BIS committee chair: Industrial Strategy Inquiry “will certainly look” at digital infrastructure

Written as editor of the New Statesman’s NS Tech and first published here.

This week, the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee launched a call for evidence on Theresa May’s new (old) Industrial Strategy launched post-Brexit.

The new strategic approach to the economy was of such importance when it was announced the news even made the big screens over in New York’s Times Square.

The committee will consider the approach taken by previous governments “unseen since Margaret Thatcher” so said Bloomberg a few weeks ago, as well as looking at other countries’ efforts.

But what is an Industrial Strategy today without digital?

“We touched upon digital business, skills, talent and infrastructure in our Digital Economy inquiry,” the committee’s chair Iain Wright MP told NS Tech.

“However, given the importance of this agenda, and how I’m keen to see a UK industrial strategy provide coordination across areas like skills and infrastructure, I anticipate that we will certainly look at this.”

Submissions on the following items are being accepted until 27 September:

  • What does the Government mean by industrial strategy, and what does the private sector want from one?
  • How interventionist in the free market should Government be in implementing an industrial strategy, for example in preventing foreign takeovers of UK companies?
  • What tensions exist between the objectives of an industrial strategy and the objectives of other policies, and how should the Government address these tensions?
  • What are the pros and cons of an industrial strategy adopting a sectoral approach
  • Should the Government proactively seek to ‘pick winners’?
  • What criteria should be used to identify which sectors are supported?
  • Should the Government prop up traditional industries that it considers to be in the national interest?
  • If not a sectoral approach, should the industrial strategy have a broader objective, such as improving productivity?
  • Should the industrial strategy have a geographical emphasis?
  • How should an industrial strategy link with devolution initiatives aimed at devolving taxation and decision making away from Westminster?
  • What examples are there of interventions from central Government that have successfully supported economic growth away from London and the South East of England?
  • How should the industrial strategy work with local authorities and Local Economic Partnerships, reconciling a U.K.-wide strategy and local, regional and devolved nations’ priorities?

What would you include in a plan to create the modern, innovative and competitive UK economy we so desperately need?

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