MP for Windsor
Working Hard For You
Adam Afriyie welcomes Government commitment to UK spaceport

Adam Afriyie today welcomed the Government’s restatement of their commitment to a UK spaceport.

Adam Afriyie, MP for Windsor and Chair of the Parliamentary Space Committee, said:

“I’m delighted the Government has again committed to establish a spaceport in the UK by 2018. This shows the Government has the vision to imagine Britain as a global player in this emerging industry.

“As politicians we need to keep our eye on the future. Just like business people, we need to spot new opportunities first, and I believe the space tourism industry is just one of those opportunities.

“The UK space sector already supports hundreds of thousands of high-quality tech jobs, and space tourism create countless more in the future. The value of aerospace exports alone grew by 12 percent in 2013.

“Moreover, this will encourage young people to become the space scientists of the future, putting Britain at the forefront of this important global industry.”

Contact:

Notes to Editors:

  1. Mr Afriyie’s website: http://www.adamafriyie.org/

 

It’s time to close our innovation gap in science and technology

Who contributes the most to science? The UK does, according to the latest Good Country Index. But while we publish world-leading research and win Nobel prizes, we sadly haven’t always been able to take economic advantage of that research excellence.

Closing this ‘innovation gap’ must be a priority for the Government as I argue in The Huffington Post today. We must make sure our young people are learning technical skills at school and that our tax system is competitive for science and technology companies.

Read the article on The Huffington Post

This is what a hi-tech, prosperous and Conservative Britain could look like

The year is 2020.  The UK has enjoyed five years of economic prosperity and stability with a wholly Conservative government.  We are heading back to the top of global economic tables for competitiveness, employment and public sector productivity.  International businesses and investors recognise the UK as “the place to be”.  Britain is recognised as the world’s leading hi-tech nation.  Almost everyone has a tangible stake in the economy by holding shares and bonds in family businesses, mutuals and social enterprises.  Above all people are planning confidently for their future.

The vision I have set out with my colleagues in the 2020 Agenda for Transformation is optimistic, hopeful, and eminently achievable.  Policies are the tools of the trade which politicians must use to realise their longer term purposes and objectives: what kind of future do we want, and how do we get there?  It is all too easy for politicians to speak about policies without first defining a vision of the future.

It is vital that Britain knows what a Conservative country looks like.  This publication by Conservative MPs defines a vision of Britain founded on fearless optimism and sound Conservative values – and it sets out the steps to achieve that vision by presenting nothing less than a framework for the 2015 Conservative manifesto.

As co-chairs of the Economic Commission, George Freeman MP and I want to see thriving clusters in aerospace, biosciences, advanced manufacturing and digital technologies spread across the country.  To do so, we need an economic culture that embraces innovation at every level because innovation is the central driver of jobs, productivity and competitiveness in an increasingly globalised economy.  An innovation economy is one in which Britain is:

  1. Globally competitive: SMEs thrive and UK big businesses lead the world, whilst international corporations compete to base their HQs in Britain.
  2. An enterprising nation with flexible employment: tax is low and simple to administrate, and businesses are easy to set up.  Businesses compete for employees, with improving terms and conditions in the absence of major legislation.
  3. A ‘participatory economy’ where everyone has a direct stake in the economy: people own shares in businesses and mutuals, and hold stakes in cooperatives and public services.
  4. Crammed full of high-tech, high-value businesses: the UK is a global hub for science, technology and engineering.  It is the first choice world-wide for registering and exploiting intellectual property.
  5. Known to have the most productive public sector in the world: the public sector landscape is a rich mix of organisations from public bodies, mutuals and cooperatives to private trusts, businesses and investors.  Services improve year on year as these organisations compete with one another.
  6. Completely connected: people are employed and run their own businesses in their spare time.  Public services are easily selected through online apps.

The Coalition Government came together in the national interest to fix the economic mess left by the previous administration.  It has not been easy, and significant progress has been made.  Yet a managerialist approach to government will not win a Conservative majority in 2015.  The biggest challenge Conservatives now face is to set out a cogent and convincing vision of what Britain will look like after a Conservative victory in 2015.  My colleagues and I will be shaping these themes over the coming months, before setting out policies in more detail to be at the forefront of the next manifesto.

It will take nothing less than a clear and distinctive vision of the future to achieve a Conservative majority in 2015 following this unusual period of Coalition.

 

Parliament supports science

Last week Parliament renewed its commitment to science and technology. Recent suggestions of budget cuts to the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) prompted prominent members of the science and engineering community, and many MPs and Peers, to voice their support for POST.

Adam speaking about science at the Conservative Party Conference

Following discussions with the House of Commons authorities, Adam Afriyie MP, Chair of the POST Board, is now confident that the POST budget is secure until April 2015.

Commenting on the news, Mr Afriyie said:

“Supporting parliamentarians’ work through POST is absolutely critical to improving understanding of science and technology issues in Parliament. POST has a vital role to play in improving the quality of public policy in the UK by supporting an evidence-based approach to policy-making.

“I am delighted that the POST budget is now secure until April 2015.”

Contact:

  • Telephone: 020 7219 8023
  • E-mail: adam.afriyie.mp@parliament.uk

Editors’ notes:

1. Adam Afriyie is MP for Windsor and Chair of the POST Board. He was Shadow Minister for Science and Innovation from 2007 to 2010.

2. POST’s website: http://www.parliament.uk/post 

 

 

Ideas to boost innovation

From Peel to Thatcher, the concepts of science and innovation have been integral to Conservative attitudes. Indeed, as a respected research scientist, Margaret Thatcher was the embodiment of science in office.

If science is about building on acquired knowledge to inform decisions for the future – a fundamentally Conservative notion – then innovation is its perfect partner.  Innovation, as an evolutionary process, has always been a mainstay of Conservative thought.  By invoking the past to make sense of the present, science and innovation blend the most appealing aspects of the traditionalist and progressive traditions of the party, and offer a convincing route to increasing the nation’s prosperity.

Conservatives are natural innovators

Adaptation is the key to survival.  To innovate goes with the grain of human nature.  Conservatives take this outlook a step further.  We believe that people should be free to adopt new practices, rather than have ‘grand ideas’ imposed upon them by self-appointed elites in smoke-filled back rooms.  We understand the intrinsic risks of radical change, but we recognise that to stand still or retreat into the past would be equally destructive.

But what is innovation?  It is more than scientific discovery.  Innovation is about the introduction of new products, services and ways of doing things that will improve our quality of life.

The Government’s role in innovation

If government is to allow innovation to flourish in wider society, it must first introduce innovative approaches to the process of government.  It must adopt a two-track mindset: first, to incorporate innovative practices in the public sector and, second, to establish an environment in which innovation can thrive in the private sector.

At the second anniversary of the Conservative-led Coalition notable progress has been made, but the direction of travel has sometimes been muddled.  The Prime Minister has set out his vision for a more dynamic British society with bigger people and a small state, but Coalition politics naturally gets in the way of putting that vision fully into practice.  Radical and destabilising reform of the Lords is not a priority for hard-working families and job-seekers.  It will not create the jobs and prosperity that an innovative and wholly Conservative Government can bring.  It is time to reaffirm our progressive Conservative values in the modern world, not shy from them.

Open Data

Francis Maude’s efforts to embed open data as an operating principle of government will drive economic growth and improve public services.  Now could be the time for all new government IT systems to publish datasets for commercial use as the default position.

Intellectual Property

The Hargreaves review gives the Coalition has an opportunity to deliver an intellectual property framework that promotes innovation and growth.  I believe that it is also now time to give the Intellectual Property Office a new duty to market the publicly registered intellectual property in its care.

Broadband

The Government is committed to delivering the best superfast broadband in Europe by 2015.  Given the state of the public finances, we cannot rely on government spending alone.  Innovation holds the key to delivering our goal.  When today’s satellites can beam high-speed internet access to every region of Britain, we must not inadvertently restrict the use of such innovative technologies that can bring instant access to remote areas.

Removing barriers to work

When I chaired the Conservative Deregulation Task Force in 2008, we sought to stimulate innovation and growth by removing unhelpful regulations.  Progress has been made – despite stiff resistance from LibDems – but there is a long way to go.  Now is the time to re-double our efforts to release private sector innovation, particularly in the area of employment law.

The pace of innovation will determine Britain’s place in the world.  We must not only embrace innovation but actively remove the obstacles to it.  The solutions to our current challenges will not come from the stranglehold of state bureaucracy and top-down control, but from placing our trust in the spirit of innovation.

But let’s be honest: even good governments are inherently bad at innovation.  We need an economy with a bigger and more vibrant private sector.  The Prime Minister has made some progress, but it is time to renew our efforts in the next Conservative manifesto.

Traditionalist or moderniser, innovation is in the Conservative DNA.  Only by restating our core Conservative values can we secure the jobs and economic growth our country requires.