Clark to lead on industrial strategy in new business department

1 Aug 16

Ministerial roles and responsibilities at the newly formed Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy have been confirmed today, with former communities secretary Greg Clark to lead on the creation of a new relationship between government and business.

After the department was created in the recent government shake-up, Greg Clark was appointed as secretary of state for business, energy, industrial strategy.

It has today been confirmed will have responsibility for developing and delivering a comprehensive industrial strategy and leading the government’s relationship with business, as well as ensuring energy supplies and tackling climate change. On Friday, Clark announced a review of the project to build the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, postponing the signing of contracts that was set to take place.

In addition to Clark, ministerial posts confirmed today include Nick Hurd as minister for climate change and industry, Jo Johnson as minister of state for universities, science, research and innovation (jointly with the Department for Education), and Jesse Norman as minister for industry and energy.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe has been named minister of state for energy and intellectual property, while Margot James is the minister for small business, consumers, and corporate responsibility.

In a statement, Clark said: “I am thrilled to have been appointed to lead this new department charged with delivering a comprehensive industrial strategy, leading government’s relationship with business, further our world-class science base, delivering affordable, clean energy and tackling climate change.”

The appointment comes as the business, innovation and skills select committee launched an inquiry into government’s plans for an industrial strategy.

MPs will examine what the government means by industrial strategy and consider how interventionist in the free market it should be following the indication by Theresa May that her government will explicitly intervene to support certain parts of the economy.

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.

Committee chair Iain Wright said he was pleased the new prime minister agreed that a modern innovative and competitive economy needs an industrial strategy.

The committee would 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."

The committee is inviting written submissions, via the committee’s website by 27 September 2016, to inform its investigation.

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