It is a great pleasure to contribute to this debate about the economy. It is an economy that is changing, and I want to use my few minutes to speak about that change.
Technology has already transformed many of our businesses and much of our economic activity is now happening online, but of course some things have not changed. The Government still need businesses to create wealth to tax and spend on public services, and businesses still need the Government to provide the environment in which wealth can be created. But in the new digital economy, Government policy making needs to be quicker and more imaginative, and it needs to do several things at once.
Policy making needs to provide for necessary infra- structure, including broadband. It also needs to deliver the increased investment in science and research referred to in the Gracious Speech, and an immigration system designed to allow the brightest minds to contribute to our ongoing prosperity. But there is something else that policy has to do. It needs to create the ethical and regulatory frameworks within which technology advances. Now, some fear that innovation is stifled by ethical safeguards, but I think it is the opposite; I think that it can be the absence of ethical safeguards that holds innovation back.
Let us take artificial intelligence as a good example. The real potential for AI is in the intelligent utilisation of data, and lots of it. It cannot bring truly transformative improvement without that data, and much of the data it needs—some of it very sensitive—it is in the hands of individuals who understandably worry about what may be done with it. They will not make their data available if they are not persuaded that there are ethical safeguards in place to protect it. The Government need to design and implement those safeguards.