Future cutler contradicts Javid

Business Secretary Sajid Javid              Picture: Leon Neal/PA Wire
Business Secretary Sajid Javid Picture: Leon Neal/PA Wire
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Business Secretary Sajid Javid insisted the UK had an industrial strategy - after being urged to introduce one by a speaker at an event in Yorkshire.

Mr Javid told guests at the Cutlers’ Feast in Sheffield that the Tories had built on a “comprehensive industrial strategy” developed by the Coalition.

His comments were at odds with senior warden Richard Edwards - set to be the next Master Cutler - who gave an impassioned speech urging the Government to treat industry as a national asset.

Mr Edwards, a serial entrepreneur who has built and sold two companies, urged government to develop a “clear industrial strategy.”

He added: “Over many years we have called for this and the recent crisis in the steel industry has again highlighted the need.

“Up until recently heavy industry has had to pay inflated energy prices through a green levy which made British companies uncompetitive against our European competitors, never mind the Chinese companies.

“Even after government intervention, we are still paying 25 per cent more for our electricity than our competitors in Germany.

“It seems that UK industry is seen as an easy target for government policies which may seem attractive in the short term but can be extremely damaging.”

He urged all government departments to “pull in the same direction” and work with business to get policy right whether it was tax, energy, digital skills or infrastructure.

He added: “Secretary of State, government has a role to be supportive, to be a critical friend and treat industry as a national asset which needs to be encouraged and promoted.

“We ask you to take this message back with you.”

He spoke at the 380th Cutlers’ Feast at the opulent Cutlers’ Hall in Sheffield - hailed the most important business dinner in the North. It was attended by 320 people and organised by the Company of Cutlers, a near 400-year-old organisation that represent manufacturers across Sheffield City Region.

Mr Javid insisted Labour had neglected industry and the present Government had done much for businesses across the North.

He added: “Under the coalition, we put in place a comprehensive industrial strategy, working with sectors that have serious potential and removing the barriers that are stopping them from growing.

“The results are there for everyone to see. Compared with 2010, manufacturing employment is up.”

The event was attended by the Lord Lieutenant of South Yorkshire, the High Sheriff, mayors of Rotherham, Barnsley, Doncaster, the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Sheffield City Council chief executive John Mothersole and Stocksbridge MP Angela Smith.

Earlier, members of the PCS union had staged a demonstration outside the Hall over plans to close the BiS office in Sheffield city centre with the lost of 250 jobs to London.

Master Cutler Craig McKay, boss of Dinnington engineering firm Evenort, gave a speech after Mr Javid, thanking him for attending.

He said: “I was delighted when the Secretary of State, The Right Honourable Sajid Javid MP agreed to be the principal guest at this, the 380th Cutlers’ Feast. I am more delighted that he is actually here, Sajid Javid is a very busy politician right now responding positively to the current steel crisis, his presence here tonight is a clear indication of his commitment to manufacturing and the Northern Powerhouse.”