The UK is an easy target for government policies which may seem attractive in the short term but can be extremely damaging, the Cutlers’ Feast heard.
Senior Warden Richard Edwards - set to be the next Master Cutler - urged Business Secretary Sajid Javid to develop a “clear industrial strategy” claiming the recent crisis in the steel industry proved again that it was necessary.
His comments appeared at odds with those of Mr Javid who said in his speech that the Tories had developed a “comprehensive industrial strategy.”
Mr Edwards 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, by 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 can be extremely damaging.”
He urged all governments to “pull in the same direction” saying that meant working with businesses 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.”
Mr Javid said 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.”