Brown: UK will be best for business

Gordon Brown today set the tone for Monday’s pre-Budget report by outlining a whole host of measures designed to “make globalisation work for Britain”.

In a speech to the advancing enterprise conference in the London, the chancellor emphasised the importance of long-term economic stability but also providing the right regulatory framework and investment to make Britain the best place to do business.

Mr Brown announced additional investment in medical research, a review of intellectual property law and an audit of Britain’s skills needs over the next 15 years.

And he signalled his intention to make planning laws more flexible and more responsive, to extend tax credits for investment and innovation and to relieve the burden of regulation.

“I want a Britain that is a leader in the world’s fastest growing, most wealth-creating sectors at the cutting edge of global advance – in capital markets and financial services, in science and innovation, in creativity and enterprise, and in skills and education,” he told delegates.

Putting interest rate-setting decisions into the hands of an independent Bank of England had brought Britain long-term stability, Mr Brown said, while the recent decision to grant the Office for National Statistics independence would add to this.

But it was now vital to build on Britain’s existing advantages, he said, to ensure the country could cope in an increasingly competitive global market.

The first task was to become world leaders in science, to which end he announced an extra £50 million funding in stem cell research, and a new partnership of pharmaceutical and biomedical companies that would bring in £500 million in research and development funds.

In addition, Mr Brown announced the establishment of a National Institute for Health Research, made up of ten major centres of excellence, and appointing 250 clinical academic fellowships and 100 clinical lectureships a year.

To ensure firms could take advantage of this additional research investment, the chancellor announced a review of intellectual property law, to be headed by former Financial Times editor Andrew Gowers.

Speaking earlier, Mr Gowers said: “I believe that intellectual property is at the heart of Britain’s success in the knowledge economy. This review will ensure that we maintain a world-class environment for creativity, design and innovation.”

The chancellor also used his speech to welcome the recommendations on creative industries published by George Cox today, which called for a new creativity and innovation centre to be set up in London, with a network of similar centres built across the country.

Turning to Labour’s flagship policy, Mr Brown launched the first stage of an audit of Britain’s skills needs, designed to set out priorities for the future of vocational training.

And finally, the chancellor highlighted the government’s new agriculture policy, drawn up with environment minister Margaret Beckett, which would marry the principles of global free trade with concerns about high-quality food and its effect on the environment.

“If we work together then I believe we shall prove that Britain is made for globalisation and globalisation is made for Britain,” he said.

Mr Brown’s speech came after a concerted effort by the government to persuade business leaders that Labour was working for them – there have been complaints that the chancellor has yet to deliver on its promises, a perception he will hope to dispel on Monday.