Manufacturing and technology policies in UK general election manifestos

Out-Law Guide | 27 Nov 2019 | 11:45 am | 3 min. read

The main parties' policies in manufacturing and technology touch on a wide range of issues from drug manufacture to the climate impact of manufacturing processes to media regulation and the dominance of large technology companies in advertising.

You can also see what the parties say about infrastructure; energy; real estate; retail, and financial services in our companion guides.

Conservative

The Conservative manifesto says that the party will “embrace new technologies and crack down on online crimes” through proposals such as creating a world-class National Crime Laboratory and empowering the police to use new technologies like biometrics and artificial intelligence.

The manifesto also claims that, if elected, the Conservative Party will make the UK the leading global hub for life sciences post-Brexit.

AMT commitments include plans to:

  • support start ups via government procurement;
  • make the UK the leading hub for life sciences after Brexit;
  • strengthen the Small Businesses Commissioner to tackle late payments by larger partners;
  • increase the tax credit rate to 13% and review the definition of R&D so that important investments in cloud computing and data, which boost productivity and innovation, are incentivised;
  • improve the use of data, data science and evidence in the process of government;
  • legislate to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online;
  • reform the science funding system to cut time wasted by scientists filling in forms;
  • repeal section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2014.

Labour

In manufacturing and technology the Labour Party commits to establishing a state-owned generic pharmaceutical company and to use the Patents Act to secure generic versions of patented drugs if drug companies cannot agree a 'fair' price with the NHS.

Manufacturing and technology policies include:

  • establish a generic drug company;
  • use the Patents Act provisions, compulsory licences and research exemptions to secure access to generic versions if fair prices are rejected for patented drugs;
  • play an active role in the medical innovation model, ensuring rewards and incentives match the areas of greatest health need;
  • ensure that all parts of the NHS, the treatment of patients, the employment of staff and medicine pricing are all fully excluded and protected from any international trade deals;
  • progress clinically appropriate prescription of medical cannabis and abolish prescription charges in England;
  • address misconduct in the media and the unresolved failures of corporate governance raised by the second stage of the abandoned Leveson Inquiry;
  • take action to address the "monopolistic hold" that technology giants have on advertising revenues and support vital local newspapers and media outlets;
  • consult media sector workers and trade unions to establish an inquiry into the ‘fake news’ undermining trust in media, democracy and public debate and on a legal right of public interest defence for journalists;
  • use public procurement to strengthen local jobs and supply chains and require all companies bidding for public contracts to recognise trade unions, pay suppliers on time and demonstrate equalities best practice.

Liberal Democrat

Liberal Democrat policies on manufacturing and technology include:

  • expand the market for green products and services with steadily higher green criteria in public procurement policy;
  • build on the industrial strategy developed by Liberal Democrat ministers in government from 2010-2015, working with sectors which are critical to the UK’s ability to trade internationally, creating more ‘catapult’ innovation and technology centres and backing private investment in particular in zero carbon and environmental innovation;
  • support the growth of new jobs and businesses in the tech sector by allowing companies to claim R&D tax credits against the cost of purchasing datasets and cloud computing, simplifying the regulatory landscape and speeding up regulatory change;
  • introduce a National Food Strategy, including the use of public procurement policy, to promote the production and consumption of healthy, sustainable and affordable food and cut down on food waste;
  • support growth in the creative industries, including video gaming, by continuing to support the Creative Industries Council and tailored industry-specific tax support, promoting creative skills, supporting modern and flexible patent, copyright and licensing rules, and addressing the barriers to finance faced by small creative businesses.