HC Deb 13 February 2001 vol 363 cc78-9W
Mr. Pound

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans the Government have to support enterprise, skills and innovation. [150126]

Mr. Byers

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment and I are today publishing "Opportunity for All in a World of Change: A White Paper on Enterprise, Skills and Innovation" (Cm 5052). Copies will be laid in the Libraries of the House and will be available in the Vote Office

The White Paper unveils the Government's active industrial policy to help people and businesses in all regions prosper in our fast-changing world, and sets out the Government's action plan for the future. It sets out the Government's next steps for raising GDP in the regions, closing the skills gap, supporting industry through restructuring and nurturing new industries as they develop.

University Innovation Centres and Technology Institutes

The measures include a major new drive to create hubs for growth in the regions based on imaginative new partnerships between universities, colleges and businesses. World-class university innovation centres will be established in England. The first five are announced today involving companies such as BAE and Proctor and Gamble in the north-east and Hewlett Packard in Bristol. New technology institutes will be developed in each region to boost the supply of ICT and other high-tech skills and transfer of know-how to SMEs. This new network will produce a step change in the capacity of regions and communities to grow new dynamic businesses and high-tech employment. The involvement of colleges will ensure skills and know how are cascaded into the wider community.

A new regional policy

The Government's goal is to increase the rate of growth in all regions, addressing underperformance and building on success. Raising the trend rate of growth by 0.5 per cent. for the worst-performing regions would increase GDP in 10 years by £20 billion. The measures include: a new £75 million incubator fund to support start-ups and growth businesses; special support to manufacturing industry through a new manufacturing advisory service. a boost for R&D in the regions—university innovation centres and technology institutes developing strategies for success support for clusters.

Closing the Skills Gap

The Government inherited a situation of poor standards in schools and neglect of skills. Much has been done to tackle these problems. The goal now is to ensure all our people have the skills they need to be enterprising and creative and to deliver the world beating technical skills business needs. The measures include: an action plan to drive up ICT skills including training up to 10,000 people each year through the new technology institutes which will have £25 million new pump priming funding; reducing the number of adults with literacy and numeracy problems by 750,000 by 2004; building a world-class technical education system with a major rationalisation in qualifications and building up training in colleges and through apprenticeships a job transition service to help communities and individuals affected by redundancy to find the rights jobs more quickly.


The Government's goal is to strengthen the ability of British business to innovate, ensuring that Britain has a world-class ICT infrastructure and promoting the exploitation of scientific advances by business.

Initiatives include: an additional £90 million to promote the commercial exploitation of research in basic technologies, genomics and e-science; a £30 million fund to begin the process of ensuring as many people and businesses as possible across the UK have access to affordable broadband services. This forms part of the "UK online: the broadband future" strategy which is being published today. Copies are available in the House of Commons Library; measures to promote take up of digital TV, giving people without PCs access to the internet.