JCB chairman Lord Bamford has spoken of his pride in manufacturing as he gave his maiden speech in the House of Lords.
The digger giant boss stood before his peers earlier this week to thank everyone who has helped him over the years before speaking of the changes he has experienced since taking over JCB when he was 30 years old in 1975.
In his speech, Lord Bamford said: “Britain has changed since 1975. It has changed for the better in countless ways.
“It is a freer, happier and more prosperous country. However, some changes sadden me and would indeed sadden and disturb any lifelong manufacturer.
“In 1975, manufacturing represented more than 27 per cent of our GDP – today it represents just 11 per cent.
“In 1975, manufacturing employed more than seven million people, more than 30 per cent of the total workforce – today it employs 2.5 million, less than eight per cent.
“In 1975, manufacturing contributed to a healthy balance of payments; sadly this has been in deficit since 1984. These are concerning numbers for those of us who want a strong, vibrant, stable and balanced economy.”
However, he added there was still a lot to celebrate about UK manufacturing with many successful businesses and sees JCB alone export 80 per cent of its UK manufactured products.
The businessman, whose father Joseph Cyril Bamford started the business the year he was born, described himself as an engineer and manufacturer after starting his career as an engineering apprentice at Massey Ferguson, in France.
He said: “It was then that it first hit me that behind every product there is an army of talented creators, makers and engineers. Somebody somewhere designed, engineered and made these red benches on which we sit, the lights by which we see each other, the microphones which help us hear each other and the telephones in our pockets which keep in touch with each other.
“We need more people like my father – more inventors and makers. We need their brains, hands, knowledge, creativity, design and technical skills and, most importantly, we need them to known that they are valued by society as a whole.”
Lord Bamford also told his peers about the 500 pupils who currently attend JCB Academy to become the next generation of engineers with many going on to apprenticeships.
He concluded his speech by telling his peers: “As a young man at JCB I came to realise how deeply rewarding it is to turn an idea into something that you can touch, something with form and texture which works and does things, and to use the best of yourself – your energy, know-how and talent – to make things that shape the world in which we live and, yes, even contribute to human progress.
“Fifty years on, I am as excited by the making of things as I was at the very beginning of my career. I end where I began. It has been, and continues to be, a real privilege to call myself an engineer and a manufacturer and to be heard in this house.”