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Home / Tim Worstall /The begging bowl is usually a little better hidden than this

The begging bowl is usually a little better hidden than this

Summary:
The claims here might actually be true. That the development of electric vehicles in the UK requires that there be a UK electric battery plant. Further, that such a battery plant requires advantages in order to be created. We can’t say that we’re convinced of this, we see no reason why it should be necessary, nor even desirable, that the two pieces, the car and the battery, be made in close geographic proximity. After all, the diesel engines for BMW’s mini are made in Austria, international supply chains are hardly a novelty in the car business. But imagine that it’s true, it’s then still true that the begging bowl is a little better hidden than this:The Government must attract battery-makers to the UK with the same determination that Margaret Thatcher showed in the 1980s when major car

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The claims here might actually be true. That the development of electric vehicles in the UK requires that there be a UK electric battery plant. Further, that such a battery plant requires advantages in order to be created.

We can’t say that we’re convinced of this, we see no reason why it should be necessary, nor even desirable, that the two pieces, the car and the battery, be made in close geographic proximity. After all, the diesel engines for BMW’s mini are made in Austria, international supply chains are hardly a novelty in the car business.

But imagine that it’s true, it’s then still true that the begging bowl is a little better hidden than this:

The Government must attract battery-makers to the UK with the same determination that Margaret Thatcher showed in the 1980s when major car producers were convinced to invest in Britain, a leading industry figure has said.

Former Aston Martin boss Andy Palmer, who is now vice-chairman at European electric vehicle battery producer InoBat, says the future of British carmaking depends on new technologies developing on these shores.

"We’ve got to be mindful of local production," Mr Palmer said.

"Car-makers will want batteries near their factories and the Government has to go all out to attract and support investment in a UK battery gigafactory.

"It’s an existential threat now, just as the UK car industry faced in the 1980s."

“Subsidise me!” is a common enough demand but as we say, it’s normally a little more subtle than that. We’d suggest Mr. Palmer try to develop his argument a little more than that.

As for the rest of us given the clarity here an answer is easy enough to come to. Specific benefits - whether tax, grant, planning, whatever - don’t need to be, shouldn’t, offered to this or any other sector. If we do have rules - tax, planning, other - that prevent economic development then of course we should be getting rid of them for all developments, not just those who hire a PR firm. If it is true that aid is required then that’s evidence that the system itself is too restrictive, not that a specific sector deserves said aid.

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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