Industrial growth on the agenda for May's new Cabinet committee


Theresa May's new Cabinet committee focused on developing the UK's industrial strategy will meet for the first time on Tuesday.

The Prime Minister will chair the Cabinet Committee on Economy and Industrial Strategy, designed to promote a diversity of industrial sectors and spread benefits of growth across the country's cities and regions.

In particular, it will look at addressing long-term productivity growth, encouraging innovation and focusing on the industries and technologies that could give the UK a competitive advantage.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Mrs May said: "As I said on my first day as Prime Minister, I will govern for the whole United Kingdom, and we will look to build an economy that works for everyone, not just the privileged few.

"That is why we need a proper industrial strategy that focuses on improving productivity, rewarding hardworking people with higher wages and creating more opportunities for young people so that, whatever their background, they go as far as their talents will take them. We also need a plan to drive growth up and down the country - from rural areas to our great cities.

"If we are to take advantages of the opportunities presented by Brexit, we need to have our whole economy firing. That's why this committee's work is of the highest priority and we will be getting down to work immediately."

The new committee will be made up of Secretaries of State from 11 Government departments, including Chancellor Philip Hammond, Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green.

Mrs May shocked the business world when she ordered a last-minute halt to finalising the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant project so the situation could be reviewed.

It is thought there are security concerns about the role of the Chinese state - which has a one-third stake in the project - investing in critical infrastructure in the UK.

Former business secretary Sir Vince Cable has said Mrs May was unhappy with what she saw as the previous government's "gung-ho" approach to doing deals with Beijing when they were in the coalition cabinet together.

Chinese state media reacted sternly by warning the country "cannot tolerate" accusations that Britain's national security may be put at risk by the Asian giant's involvement in Hinkley Point.

A comment piece for the official Xinhua news agency reportedly said the delay to the project "adds uncertainties to the 'Golden Era' of China-UK ties".

"China can wait for a rational British government to make responsible decisions, but cannot tolerate any unwanted accusation against its sincere and benign willingness for win-win co-operation," it added.