If only they would fight

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ONE of the most important jobs for a local MP is to help protect and promote the interests of the local economy and key firms in their patch.

One of these is OGN in Wallsend which makes offshore rigs. I have visited the plant on several occasions and keep in touch with the management.

Any company will succeed if it provides the right goods and services but can demand that it is treated fairly and that competition is on a level playing field.

Governments provide all manner of support to such companies because their success generates jobs, tax revenues and growth – which we are in need of at this testing time for the UK economy.

British companies won’t always win contracts but our government can be tougher in setting the terms of such deals by, for instance, insisting as much employment as possible is found for local people.

This is the case with OGN which tells me that they probably lost 1,500 good quality local jobs overseas when a South Korean company was recently given a contract.

The company won a contract from the British government, which unaccountably failed to insist that the Koreans domestically source jobs. This needlessly hobbled British companies such as OGN.

The problem is that the UK government lacks a proper industrial strategy, which is compounded by confusion between government departments and ministers with overlapping responsibilities.

I have tabled a Commons motion deploring this approach and urging it be remedied. We cannot afford to be fainthearted about boosting British jobs when we use foreign companies.

I have backed OGN in the Commons before and stand ready to do my bit to bat for Britain. If only Ministers would join the fight.