The Chancellor Gordon Brown and Patricia Hewitt, Minister for Small Business and E-Commerce, held the first Pre-Budget Roadshow to discuss the Government's agenda to improve productivity in the UK at UUNET's headquarters in Cambridge last Friday.
Chancellor's first roadshow takes place in Cambridge
The roadshow concentrated on the subject of innovation including e-commerce, clusters, encouraging the commercialisation of science and the R&D Tax Credit. (See http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk).
The event enabled the business community to discuss with both Ministers the Pre-Budget report.
UUNET is the leading Internet service provider for business and one of Cambridge's biggest success stories. The Chancellor also officially opened UUNET's new building which will double its presence on the Science Park, creating a further 350 jobs over the next 12 months.
Speaking at the event, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown said:
'First of all may I say that I am delighted to be in Cambridge today and delighted to be given the chance to open the new extension to UUNET and see the development of 350 additional jobs here on this site. I am very pleased to be on the Science Park and pay tribute to the work that has been done by so many people to make this the fastest expanding area for high technology developments in the country.
'There are 1200 high tech companies in the Cambridge area and 1000's of jobs have already been created as a result, and many that are on their way. I believe that a good relationship between universities and business is one that will yield even greater results in the future.
'This is the first of our pre-budget consultations running up to the budget next Easter, and these consultations are going to be a vital part of the modern budget process. I believe that to deliver the modern budget we do need a modern process. If we want a budget to meet the challenges of our economy in a new global and competitive market we need to face these challenges together - government, business, local communities, university. We need therefore to have a budget process that is open and consultative. And this pre-budget report and roadshow is part of the process.
'I need to secure the platform of stability that is necessary for growth to take place in our economy and through measures directed at enterprise, work and fairness we will equip the whole of the country for the future and ensure rising standards for all. Indeed the wealth and prosperity of every country in the new century will depend on that combination of economic stability, that comes for a sound and disciplined monetary and fiscal policy, and the promotion of enterprise in what is now a knowledge-based economy.
'This is an astonishing age of possibility. The Internet and electronic commerce are revolutionising our access to innovation, the way in which we educate, buy and sell, entertain ourselves. From the acquisition and servicing of people, to the management of stocks and supplies, the Internet and Ecommerce will transform the way we do business.
'The rate of innovation will clearly accelerate in coming years, the rewards for discovering new ideas will be ever greater. Which ever country is able to make use of inventions and innovation fastest will come out ahead and I want that country to be Britain and I want the United Kingdom to lead in Europe. This is the time to raise our sights and equip ourselves for the challenge ahead. I believe that Britain can aspire to new economic ambition for the next decade and a faster rise in productivity.'
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The Chancellor's full speech - and details of the entire event, including the speech by E-Commerce Minister Patricia Hewitt - is available online at: http://www.uk.uu.net/new/1999/chancellor/