Apprenticeships, the skills gap and the profile of commerce among politicians were among the subjects aired during a business lunch and information session organised by Conservative MEPs.

The Birmingham Business Lunch held at Edgbaston Cricket Ground on Thursday was "enlightening, entertaining and very well-received," said Anthea McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, who hosted the event.

To build on this success, further events are now planned under the banner Birmingham Conservative Business Forum.

Special guest and main speaker was Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe, a minister in both the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.

She spoke of her experience as a civil servant in the Cabinet Office, the Prime Minister’s Policy Unit and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food - and her later leading roles in business on the boards of Tesco, ITV, PwC and Birmingham food company 2 Sisters.

She warned that business was too often overlooked or marginalised and told her audience: "In political life and even more in Parliament business receives much less sympathetic attention from most people than its importance warrants. And what attention it receives is often misplaced and counter-productive.

"So the realities of political life in the UK are tough for business. I see it as one of the main jobs for Ministers in the Business department to try to combat this attitude as far as I can.

Miss McIntyre said later:  "It was a really good event. We had about 50 guests and I think they were all impressed by Lucy's energy and her insight into both business and politics.

"This will now be the launch pad for a series of Birmingham Conservative Business Forums. Although Conservatives will be organising the gatherings, we do not want them to be party political at all. We see them as an opportunity for our business people to get together, share ideas and experience and hear from people with useful knowledge and experience.