Peer urges big firms to echo 'wartime spirit' of companies giving free or at cost help during coronavirus outbreak

A Yorkshire Peer has praised a firm which has donated 40,000 metres of material to Barbour and Burberry to make protective equipment for health and social care staff.

Baroness Anne McIntosh praised Industrial Textiles and Plastics, based in Easingwold, in the House of Lords yesterday, after the firm donated their material, which was used in the Gulf War to make shelters resistant to potential chemical attacks. The firm donated enough to make 25,000 gowns.

The business gave the material to manufacturers for free, and with the equipment also being made into gowns for no cost, it will save the NHS more than £1.75m.

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Baroness McIntosh said the PPE would be “distributed through a Thirsk-based volunteer organisation organised by local NHS trusts” and asked: “will the Government agree to use this model for the manufacture and distribution of gowns through local manufacturers and local distributors to disperse to NHS trusts?”

Baroness McIntosh of Pickering.Baroness McIntosh of Pickering.
Baroness McIntosh of Pickering.

Replying on behalf of the Government Lord James Bethell said: “I share the noble Baroness’s endorsement of the tremendous response from British manufacturing.

“Some 176 firms have applied to the scheme and we are processing their suggestions. My noble friend Lord Deighton is a powerful advocate for the Make programme.”

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Speaking to this newspaper Baroness McIntosh said she hoped the “wartime spirit” would be echoed elsewhere, including by Deloitte, which is assisting the Government with carrying out testing.

She said: “I was slightly alarmed to hear Deloitte is involved, my concern is maybe they have a role to play in the critical NHS supply, but this is a national effort, Burbury and Barbour are prepared to reduce their fees and are protecting the health staff. It would be a nice gesture if they [Deloitte] were to do the same”

A spokeswoman for Deloitte said: “As a policy, Deloitte does not discuss details of client engagements.”

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