The new All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) was first suggested at a meeting of MPs with ceramic manufacturing sites in their constituency hosted by Stoke-on-Trent North and Kidsgrove MP Ruth Smeeth in January. The establishment of the group comes as the trade association for the sector, the British Ceramic Confederation (BCC), continues its EARTH campaign on five policy demands which could help secure 20,000 UK jobs in the industry.
Shortly following the meeting a parliamentary debate secured by fellow Potteries MP Tristram Hunt examined the extent of Government support for the industry. Business Minister Anna Soubry MP was scheduled to respond on behalf of the Government in the debate.
Dr Tristram Hunt, MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central said before the debate: “I am delighted to have secured a Westminster Hall debate to highlight issues currently facing the UK ceramics industry and what government can do to support it. The future prosperity of thousands of families in Stoke-on-Trent depends on whether the Tory government steps-up to support our world-leading ceramic businesses.
“That is why, during the debate, I will be urging the Government to show commitments on a host of business-friendly policy changes such as competitive compliance costs, lower energy prices and global trading rules that foster a fairer international marketplace. The debate offers an opportunity for the Government to step-up and offer real, meaningful commitments to supporting the UK ceramics industry. I know that our ceramic manufacturers in The Potteries will be watching closely to see if the Government’s pro-business rhetoric is followed by positive action.
“I am also looking forward to the inaugural meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Ceramics. This offers an excellent opportunity for industry leaders and Members of Parliament to meet and work together to grow the ceramics industry in the UK and create the skilled, well-paid jobs places like Stoke-on-Trent need. I am grateful to my colleague from Stoke-on-Trent North, Ruth Smeeth MP, for leading this group.”
Ruth Smeeth, MP for Stoke-on-Trent North and Kidsgrove said: “It’s a great privilege to represent The Potteries, the beating heart of Britain’s ceramics industry. The All Party Group for Ceramics is a great opportunity to put the concerns of the industry front and centre and to ensure that the Government is standing up for British business.
There are over 20,000 people employed directly by the ceramics industry in the UK, and over 2,500 of those are in my own constituency of Stoke-on-Trent North and Kidsgrove. It is vital that we are doing everything we can to help these businesses grow and prosper.”
Dr Laura Cohen, Chief Executive of the BCC said: “Quite understandably a lot of the media and Government focus of late has been on the crisis-hit steel industry. It’s really important, however, that other industries aren’t jeopardised or their growth potential ignored. For example in ceramic manufacturing there are five simple policy changes which would stop the industry from being held back – the basis of our EARTH campaign. We’re not asking for handouts from the Government, just a level playing field with international competitors which would allow our world-beating industry to thrive to its full potential.”