As MPs return for the continuation of the
2005/2006 Parliamentary session, a survey of the new House
of Commons shows that a majority of MPs of all political
parties believe that they should take on a leading role
in the drive to cut red tape. Overwhelmingly they also
believe that manufacturing should do more to communicate
with them, particularly in their constituency.
Among the survey’s other main
findings it shows that:
- MPs generally have little inherent
knowledge of manufacturing, indicating that lobbying
- On manufacturing issues, constituency
firms and individuals
are MPs’ most influential sources of information
followed by Parliamentary briefings
- Career backgrounds
are significantly more influential on banking and insurance
(31%) and business services (27%)
The survey for the Engineering and Machinery Alliance
(EAMA) reports the views of a quarter of all MPs in the
House in a representative sample by party, region and length
EAMA chairman Graham Hayes explains:
This is a really encouraging survey. Yes, it’s true
that MPs’ knowledge of manufacturing is not strong.
They were only really convincing on two of the eight true
or false fact tests. But they seem to be well informed
at a general business level and overwhelmingly they think
manufacturing should do more to communicate with them.
“MPs strongly support policy
initiatives encouraging investment, exports and a reduction
in red tape, indicating
that they are interested in becoming involved in reforming
UK business conditions, but they need the facts.
“The problem for manufacturers is that raising productivity
means that there are no resources available to deal with
activities like briefing local MPs on a consistent basis.
So it’s not surprising that MPs’ knowledge
could be improved. Now it’s up to manufacturing trade
associations and alliances like EAMA with our bias towards
SME manufacturers to speak up. And to do that we need the
support of as many companies and trade associations as
possible so that we can tackle MPs across the country,
given the way their views can vary.”
Despite the MPs’ enthusiasm for
grappling with red tape and their recognition that SMEs
in particular struggle
to deal with it, only a small majority believe that family
friendly policies hit SMEs disproportionately. Indeed Labour
and female MPs reject this view. These two groups are also
sceptical as to whether companies complaining about over
regulation actually have a good case to make.
In view of the Government’s plans
to place greater emphasis on encouraging more foreign
forms to invest in
the UK at the expense of helping UK firms to export it
is interesting to note that MPs reject this proposition
54% to 26%, when phrased differently, so that it does not
refer to Government policy.
There is also a majority for overhauling the regional
grants scheme to minimise the way it distorts investment.
MPs in London, the South and the Midlands tend to favour
change, whereas Westminster MPs from Wales, Scotland and
Northern Ireland tend to be against this sort of change.
In the survey MPs ranked four sources of information that
they rely on most. After constituency sources (24%) and
own career background (21%) came the media (19%) and finally
Parliamentary activities (17%) in fourth position as the
Notes to Editors:
- The survey was conducted by
Communicate Research across a representative panel of
154 MPs June 7-24. The sample comprised 80 Labour, 51
Conservative, 20 Liberal Democrats and 3 MPs representing
the smaller parties.
- EAMA’s seven member
associations are: British Automation and Robot Association
Machinery Suppliers Association (BPMSA), British Turned
Part Manufacturers Association (BTMA), Gauge and Toolmakers
Association (GTMA), Manufacturing Technologies Association
(MTA), Printing, Papermaking and Converting Suppliers
Association (PICON), Processing and Packaging Machinery
- Graham Hayes (photo available on
request) was elected EAMA chairman in 2004. He is chairman
of Bradman Lake
the British Packaging machinery manufacturers.