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EAMA - Engineering & Machinery Alliance Press Release

Wednesday 19 October 2005


Survey of MPs on SME Manufacturing
MPs want to do and know more about UK manufacturing in the real world


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 is important
  • 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%) matters

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 of service.

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 least influential.


Notes to Editors:

  1. 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.
  2. EAMA’s seven member associations are: British Automation and Robot Association (BARA), British Paper 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 Association (PPMA)
  3. Graham Hayes (photo available on request) was elected EAMA chairman in 2004. He is chairman of Bradman Lake the British Packaging machinery manufacturers.