Byers spells out spend on high-tech investment



Parliamentary reporter

Trade and industry secretary Stephen Byers has outlined measures to boost high-tech investment in the regions at the Labour...



Parliamentary reporter

Trade and industry secretary Stephen Byers has outlined measures to boost high-tech investment in the regions at the Labour Party conference in Brighton last week.

The proposals build on chancellor Gordon Brown's plan for new tax breaks to lure high-tech companies to inner-cities and deprived parts of Britain.

Byers repeated Brown's commitment to ensure that the "benefits of economic prosperity go to all our people wherever they live".

The Tyneside MP told delegates, "Under-performance by regions has serious economic costs and its also has disturbing social consequences. We now need a new approach to this deep seated problem".

"We shall establish a £50m fund to ensure that all regions can improve the performance on innovation.

Byers also said there would be a 30% increase in funding for Business Links, an organisation that advises small businesses, particularly in IT investment. He added that there was a further £1bn on the way to support science and £140m in the Higher Education Innovation Fund to help transfer British inventions to the marketplace.

Prime minister Tony Blair underlined his commitment to making Britain IT-literate as a key part of his agenda for Labour's second term.

He repeated figures showing what had already been done, saying, "Because 90% of new jobs will need skills with computers, there will be 6,000 centres around Britain giving access to the Internet and help with technology.

"Everyone will get an 80% discount on computer courses, the unemployed will get it for free. There will be 1,000 more technology centres for small business or the self-employed.

"Because we want to stay ahead in the new technologies, we are investing £2.25m over five years in British science, the largest investment since the 1960s," Blair said.

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