Maggie Throup MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Furniture Industry Group (APPFIG), secured a Westminster Hall debate on 23 January 2019 that examined the contribution of furniture manufacturing to the UK economy.
Ms Throup used the opportunity to champion UK furniture manufacturing and raised some of the policy issues that the British Furniture Confederation (BFC) has been highlighting.
During the debate, Ms Throup raised four key issues: trade and export; standards and regulations; skills and education; and the environment. All of these areas are key BFC policy concerns, which can be found in its manifesto.
The debate was well attended by MPs from both sides of the House of Commons and from constituencies across the UK. Richard Harrington MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business and Industry, responded for the Government. He acknowledged the economic importance of the furniture industry, commented how ‘furniture is fundamental to all our lives’ and provided clarity on the Government’s position on some of the BFC’s key policy concerns.
Mr Harrington mentioned that ‘the country has a rich history of producing world-class furniture’. On Brexit, he said: ‘The Government will do everything we can to ensure that the movement of goods remains as frictionless as possible to the benefit of industry across the UK.’
On safety and regulation, Mr Harrington said: ‘We need to maintain the industry’s reputation for excellence in both quality and safety’. On skills and education, he said: ‘The Government are keen to ensure that the industry has the skills it needs’.
Mr Harrington concluded the debate by stating that he recognised ‘the furniture industry’s great contribution to our country and of the strong position it is in to make a positive contribution to a more sustainable future.’
The chairman of the BFC, Jonathan Hindle, said: “The debate highlighted the important contribution of the UK furniture industry to the UK economy and allowed a number of the industry’s key policy concerns to be discussed. I’m very grateful to Maggie Throup MP for seeking the debate and look forward to working with her, the APPFIG and Government departments to ensure that the British furniture industry continues to thrive.”