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Committee launches inquiry into Government's industrial strategy

1 August 2016

The Business, Innovation and Skills Committee (BIS) launches an inquiry into the Government's industrial strategy. The inquiry launch follows the inclusion of the term "industrial strategy" into the Department for Business's name and an indication from the new Prime Minister, Theresa May, that her government will explicitly intervene to support certain parts of the economy.

The Committee will consider what the Government means by industrial strategy and questions how interventionist in the free market it should be, such as whether it should prevent foreign takeover of UK companies.

Priorities for the private sector, in terms of what businesses want from a revamped industrial strategy, the pros and cons of a sectorial approach and possible geographical emphasis will also be explored by the Committee.

It will also look at the industrial strategies of previous governments and of other countries to see if there are any lessons to be learnt.

Chair's comments

Iain Wright MP, Chair of the Business Innovation and Skills Committee, said:

"I am pleased that the new Prime Minister agrees that a modern innovative and competitive economy needs an industrial strategy. But we on the committee want to explore what this means in practice. Will this be a return to ‘picking winners' by the Government? Is it just a rebadging of existing policies? Or is the Government going to make a genuinely new offer to support key industries right across the country?

We will want to explore the rationale for the support and the means of providing it, particularly in a coordinated way across Government departments. We will also want to test how a new Government industrial strategy fits in with its own devolution agenda, so that local, regional and national policies and strategies can be aligned as much as possible."

Call for written submissions

The Committee is inviting written submissions, sent via the Committee's inquiry page by 27 September 2016, on the following:

  1. What does the Government mean by industrial strategy, and what does the private sector want from one?
  2. How interventionist in the free market should Government be in implementing an industrial strategy, for example in preventing foreign takeovers of UK companies?
  3. What lessons can be learnt from:
    • Previous governments' industrial strategies?
    • Other countries' attempts to develop industrial strategies?
  4. What tensions exist between the objectives of an industrial strategy and the objectives of other policies, and how should the Government address these tensions?
  5. 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?
  6. 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?

Further information

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