Rolls-Royce chief executive Sir John Rose has attacked successive British governments for their lack of industrial strategy at a meeting of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce in London on 10 November – where, in the past, issues such as the nationalisation of the railways and the digging of the Channel tunnel were first raised.
“What we need is a clear education, industrial and energy strategy” that makes Britain an exporter of goods rather than an importer, he said. “We must stop hiding behind the myth that Britain is a post-industrial economy as if that was a praiseworthy ambition.”
He had a pointed question about government policy for the energy industry in particular: “…do we mean we want the UK to be the biggest manufacturer of wind turbines or the biggest importer or subsidiser of them?”
Critical of the view in government that “other less fortunate countries could get on with the business of making things”, he pointed out that India and China will not be satisfied with low-cost manufacturing for long, and are already investing in high-value energy, infrastructure and defence projects.
“We should be shocked by the speed with which our competitors are moving up the value chain.”