The 65th Queen’s Speech was delivered to MPs and peers yesterday (May 18), setting out the Conservative Government’s forthcoming legislation for the year ahead.
Commenting on the Digital Economy and Infrastructure Bill, CEO of EEF, Terry Scuoler said: “The Government’s legislative agenda will have an important bearing on the operating environment for businesses.
“In particular, if industry is to take advantage of the fourth industrial revolution, it is critical that we have a world class digital and physical infrastructure in place, together with the highly skilled people who can deliver it.”
“This [Digital Economy] Bill will lay the groundwork to ensure that businesses have access to more cost effective and more reliable and resilient digital infrastructure than at present. A specific universal service obligation for businesses is central to this ambition.
On the Higher Education and Research Bill, Scuoler noted: “Government is right to focus on driving quality of teaching if the UK’s position as a global leader in higher education is to be retained.
“Manufacturers are crying out for graduate talent to fill their job roles, but can’t always attract a sufficient number of applicants to fill these vacancies. Knowing that there are numerous and prosperous career opportunities in manufacturing will hopefully drive more candidates through manufacturers’ doors.”
CBI deputy director-general, Josh Hardie said: “Given the focus on the European Union referendum in this political cycle, it’s particularly encouraging to see the Government’s clear commitment to locking in growth, creating jobs and boosting investment to create a more prosperous society.
“Prioritising the digital revolution, which is transforming the face of modern business, is a key step to propelling the UK’s productivity. Ensuring that broadband reaches all corners of the country will breed a new generation of companies in an increasingly competitive environment.
“We are already working closely with the Government on ensuring higher education gives students the best opportunities and skills, and on the devolution of business rates to drive regional growth. Further action to improve offender rehabilitation is an area where business will look forward to working with the Government.
“Whatever the outcome of the EU referendum, it’s vital the Government ploughs ahead with the rest of its programme. In the near future, business is looking forward to hearing more on several key projects, from a new runway in the South East to the National Innovation Plan.”
Chief executive of SMMT, Mike Hawes noted: “SMMT welcomes government’s commitment to accelerate the development of connected and autonomous vehicles in the UK.
“This is a huge opportunity for Britain, with the potential to deliver significant road safety improvements, create hundreds of thousands of new jobs and generate £51bn for the economy by 2030.
“[This] announcement will help the UK position itself as a global leader in innovation and building the cars of the future.”
CEO of ADS (Aerospace, Defence, Security & Space) Group, Paul Everitt said: “Already there has been no lack of discussion on the issue of EU membership, just last week Paul Kahn, president of Airbus Group, gave a stark warning as to the implications of withdrawal on the ability for the UK to remain competitive.
“For industry, the challenge lies in making a clear case of the economic benefits that EU membership provides to companies, their employees and to the economy as whole.”
With small firms owed more than an estimated £32bn in late payments; Everitt said of the Enterprise Bill: “Industry as a whole loses out if time is too heavily focussed on managing cash flow and not concentrated on the innovation that is central to encouraging growth.
“An effective supply chain is vital to the success of our sectors and something that UK industry actively promotes to foreign investors; it is diverse, agile and pioneering, and depends on prompt payments in order to run effectively.”
Confirmation of a Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) puts forward an opportunity for the defence industry to work with Government in determining the best way to deliver necessary capabilities within a tight budgetary framework.
Everitt commented: “The upcoming SDSR will be about ensuring the UK has the right mix of capabilities and invests in the skills and new technologies we need to respond to wide range of potential threats to the UK’s national and economic security.”
Director general of the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), Ian Wright CBE said: “Improving productivity in UK food and drink manufacturing – which adds £22bn annually to the Exchequer, supports 400,000 jobs directly, and feeds millions everyday – should be a shared national priority.
“If we are to continue to invest, innovate and create highly skilled jobs and apprenticeships, we really need to address and manage the increasing regulatory costs and reporting obligations that we face. We hope the Better Markets Bill will achieve that.
“With its scale and reach across the UK, food and drink manufacturing will have a major role to play fulfilling Government’s ambition to create a Northern Powerhouse. For example, Yorkshire and the Humber’s 800 plus food and drink manufacturers achieve a turnover of £10bn alone, the highest of all English regions.
“For Government’s Childhood Obesity Strategy to be effective, it must be based on sound science and be truly comprehensive, as promised. The case for a soft drinks levy looks no stronger today than when it was first announced in March this year.
“Obesity will only be beaten by a national partnership involving Government, the NHS and health professionals, schools, retailers, restaurants and food and drink manufacturers.”