Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Think the unthinkable, urges Cable

Vince Cable will use a speech in the City of London's Mansion House to take up the theme against short-termism

Vince Cable will urge business leaders to "think the unthinkable" and imagine the UK a decade into the future, with cities revived, the banking system repaired and a booming energy sector.

The Business Secretary will use a speech in the City of London's Mansion House to take up the theme against short-termism, which Labour and parts of British industry have raised in recent days.

He will say that the UK's financial markets were "obsessively short-termist", adding: "The practice of quarterly reporting may be lucrative for successful arbitrageurs and the serried ranks of financial intermediaries but it can be crippling for companies trying to invest for the longer term."

Mr Cable will ask the audience to think long-term, by imagining the UK a decade or more into the future.

"Our energy sector booms in the wake of opportunities created by a simultaneous upsurge in investment in gas and low-carbon electricity, including nuclear. Energy prices become more predictable and stable."

He said Britain was a world leader in some new IT based technologies and - outside the US - the go-to country for entrepreneurs wanting a supportive environment for innovation.

"Our banking system is largely repaired from the damage of the crash in 2008, and is unrecognisable. Sustained reform of our planning system, housing finance and local authority incentives has meant that we've been building enough homes for our burgeoning population, correcting a major long-standing social and economic problem and providing hundreds of thousands of skilled jobs.

"British universities, along with top US institutions, continue to dominate the world rankings as Chinese and other competitors fail to match the creative intellectual freedom linked to research and business which we can offer... There has been a revolution in apprenticeship training, increasingly the favoured career route for teenagers.

"There's been a similar revolution in the supply of engineers, increasingly dominated by women. The transformation of the workplace in the wake of shared parental leave and flexible working gives rise to a male movement seeking quotas to prevent women from beginning to dominate the upper echelons of business, the professions, politics and the civil service."

The minister will tell the annual trade and industry dinner, hosted by the Lord Mayor of the City of London Roger Gifford: "You may think I am getting carried away, but all these trends are recognisable in today's world. Unless we think the unthinkable, we shall be overwhelmed by the pace of change."

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