Industrial Strategy Consultation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:46 pm on 23rd January 2017.

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Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy 4:46 pm, 23rd January 2017

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his welcome. He says that it is an interventionist strategy, and it is true that the Government should be engaged with the economy to make sure that we have the right conditions for success, but I also point out that openness for competition to have its full run in our economy is vital to our success. As Chairman of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, he will reflect that point. I look forward to the Select Committee’s inquiry on the strategy.

The hon. Gentleman asks how the strategy is different from its predecessors, and I would suggest two ways in particular. First, as he will have observed, many of the themes that I have discussed are not about investing in particular companies or subsidising particular businesses but are cross-cutting. The themes are horizontal in that they look at skills right across the economy, infrastructure —looking at the importance of place and the differences between places—science and research. These are cross-economy measures, which is a different approach from those taken in the past.

Secondly, a lot of efforts in previous industrial policy were correctly about innovation, but they concentrated just on new discoveries and new inventions. That is important—as I have made clear, we need to extend our excellence into the future—but there is a big opportunity to make differences for the companies that follow and in the regions that are not competing at the top level. If we can really increase productivity there, we can make a big difference to the whole economy. That has not been the focus of previous industrial strategies.