Gazette & Herald Column: Strategy will transform productivity in industries

This week Ministers in my department were proud to launch the country’s first Industrial Strategy, setting out a long term plan to boost the productivity of business and the earning power of people throughout the UK. We have been hard at work developing a strategy which looks at how we can help businesses with investment in developing the skills, industries and infrastructure of the future. The plan includes some new Grand Challenges in future-facing industries like Artificial Intelligence, automated and electric vehicles and clean energy generation, as well as the first wave of sector deals that will transform productivity and opportunities in industries like construction and car manufacturing – it’s a big plan, supported by the biggest ever increase in research and development money being invested on our behalf by the government (along with big commitments from the private sector to do the same) and we are all committed to its success.

Alongside my hectic Westminster schedule, I also must deliver local campaign priorities, so last Friday I had a very busy Constituency day, meeting with local schools and GPs. I started by visiting Southbroom St James’ School, who were being visited by Google as part of their campaign to help children stay safe online by becoming Internet Legends! I spoke with Headteacher Mr Bailey about the fantastic progress that the school is making and invited pupils and teachers to visit Parliament. Later in the day I also had the pleasure of visiting Downland School to discuss the opportunities for specialist education provision in Wiltshire and enjoyed my “Question Time” grilling from some of the students! Last week’s budget pledged another £3.5bn for NHS projects which transform local care, and so I met Dr Sandford-Hill, Chair of Wiltshire CCG and the project team to see how this can be used towards the Devizes Urgent Care Centre – which should receive planning consent soon. I was also persuaded to have a winter flu jab which I wish I had done every year – it is quick, easy and quite painless so please do think about getting one!

Back in Westminster this week I had to go through the daunting process of giving evidence to the BEIS Select Committee. Select committees are important parts of British democracy, with a Committee for each department, made up of MPs from different parties who are elected to their roles (I served on the Justice Committee with one J. Corbyn several years ago!) with the remit to scrutinise government on any topic they deem important. The hearings are open to the public, so I would encourage everyone to come along and see democracy in action!