Members of the Lords debated the competitiveness of UK industry yesterday (Thursday 5 July)
Members with a special interest in business and economics spoke during the debate. They discussed the UK's success in attracting inward investment and exporting to global markets. They also considered the UK industry's role in strengthening the economy and in job creation.
Lord Jenkin of Roding (Conservative) opened the debate and referred to earlier debates on youth unemployment and economic growth and said: 'One key to solving both those problems is achieving the success of UK industry, by that I mean all industries, for the nation in earning its living...'
Focusing on the life sciences industry Lord Kakkar (Crossbench), a member of the European Union Committee (Sub-Committee B: Internal Market, Infrastructure, and Employment) explained that it 'generates in excess of £50 billion a year in revenue' and 'is second only to financial services in contribution that it makes to our economy'. He called for tax incentives for translational medical research and adaptive licensing and said: '...there must always be a careful, measured approach towards regulation of research, ensuring that patients are always protected but also that the environment for research in our country remains competitive and attractive.'
'A fair society and a strong economy go together. This is why both social and economic considerations have to be taken into account when judging our nation's competitiveness,' argued Lord Haskel (Labour). He called for better regulation saying 'good regulation actually stimulates the innovation and investment, which adds to our competitiveness.' He added: 'Social considerations of fairness have to be taken into account in the competitiveness of our tax regime.'
Lord Flight (Conservative), a former shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, stated: 'To me, the economic facts of life are very simple: if this economy is going to pick up and grow, it can do it only through rising exports and capital investment.' Speaking of Burberry, Hamleys and Fortnum and Mason he said: 'Think of all the fantastic British brands for which there is much greater potential now that there are parts of the world that can afford these things, potentially more than we can ourselves.'
Responding on behalf of the government Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint (Conservative) argued for investment and net trade. He argued: 'We need to work away at encouraging more companies into international markets.'