We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Industrial Strategy

Part of Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Bill [Lords] (Programme) – in the House of Commons at 3:40 pm on 18th April 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy 3:40 pm, 18th April 2018

The overall population of the UK is growing, as the hon. Gentleman knows. It is important that our immigration system is set in a sensible way that recognises the needs of the economy and the needs of our society, and that is the approach being taken.

I talked about grand challenges. Let me turn to another important aspect of the industrial strategy, which is, candidly, to address areas of historic relative weakness in the UK economy. I talked about our strengths, but it is well known to every Member of this House that for many years now our productivity performance has not been as good as that of some of our competitors, and since the financial crisis it has been slower to recover. In recent quarters we have seen an acceleration of productivity growth, but I think everyone would recognise that it is the responsibility of this House and those of us in Government to act on the foundations of productivity so that we can maximise the productive capacity of the economy. A big part of the consultation was to consider what we can do to drive up our productivity performance.

There are five areas in which clear commitments and progress are required across the whole economy—indeed, across society, to go back to the comments made by Mr McFadden. This is not simply, if at all, in the gift of the Business Department. It requires a whole-country commitment to investing in the foundations of productivity. We have set out our plans and ideas on research and development, as I mentioned earlier. As new technologies are developed, the skills required by the workforce to make use of them clearly need to change as well. It is no good doing one if we do not do the other, so the skills element of the strategy is very important. It is important to recognise the different needs of different places, as I mentioned in response to an intervention from Alex Cunningham.

We want to make sure that our business environment is not only competitive and open, but recognises the need to ensure that when companies start up—we have a great record of start-ups—they can attract the funding that they require to grow into medium and larger businesses. We want to make sure that the infrastructure on which our whole economy depends is competitive with the best in the world. Through the industrial strategy, we set out action across all five of those contributors to productivity.