Following the vote to leave the EU, it is more important than ever that the Government does all it can to secure the future of our manufacturing industries.
This week Bio-pharma company Seqirus, based in my constituency, were due to take the crucial step of deciding whether to locate its “fill and finish” capacity for its vaccinations in Speke or in mainland Europe. The new cutting-edge capacity would be at the forefront of innovation and complete the supply chain for the production of the vaccinations, which are currently packaged elsewhere in Europe. Liverpool is the best option, but the move will require capital investment to consolidate the future of the Speke plant.
This represents a great opportunity for the Government to show its support for the manufacturing industry in Liverpool.
The second largest influenza vaccine company in the world, Seqirus was created in July 2015 when bioCSL and Novartis merged. Its production facility in Speke currently has around 600 employees, and carries out vitally important work manufacturing egg-based flu vaccines.
Influenza is a global public health issue that kills up to 500,000 people per year world-wide, and Seqirus is the only company in the UK that produces injectable influenza vaccines. It therefore plays a critical role in ensuring that UK health services have rapid access to these vaccines to respond to flu epidemics and treat those most vulnerable to potentially life-threatening symptoms.
Over the past few months I have repeatedly urged the Government to support Liverpool’s bid, and have made numerous attempts to secure a meeting with Greg Clark the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Despite receiving a written response from Greg Hands MP, Minister for Trade and Investment, my requests for a meeting remained unanswered.
Last week I raised the issue on the floor of the House during questions on future parliamentary business. I urged the Government to provide time for a debate in the Commons on the future of the manufacturing industry following the Brexit vote, and stated the urgent need for a meeting with Greg Clark MP.
Following my intervention in the Commons, I was finally offered a chance to discuss the issue with the Secretary of State. This was a positive meeting, and offered Seqirus the opportunity to emphasise the considerable benefits this investment would bring to Liverpool and the UK.
I hope this will be enough to secure Liverpool’s future as a world leader in flu vaccination manufacturing.
Watch the full video of my question in the House of Commons here – Investment for Seqirus