New trade and industry secretary Stephen Byers is expected to press ahead with the strategy outlined in the Competitiveness White Paper, unveiled by Peter Mandelson less than a week before he was forced to resign last month.
Andy Scott, CBI director for international competitiveness, said that following recent talks with the DTI ‘we have no reason to suppose [Byers] won’t be taking the same agenda forward’.
Mandelson’s departure was mourned by industry, which had been encouraged by the way he left his mark on the department during his short tenure. Many believe Mandelson made useful improvements to earlier drafts of the paper drawn up under his predecessor Margaret Beckett.
The CBI and the Engineering Employers’ Federation have urged Byers to continue the themes the White Paper sets out. Byers, a lawyer, is seen as sharing the modernising vision of Mandelson and Prime Minister Tony Blair, though trade unions hope he will be more sympathetic to their cause than Mandelson was.
He is expected to adopt the White Paper strategy with only minor changes of emphasis. One source said: ‘It was written by Mandelson with a foreword by Tony Blair. He’s not likely to demur from that.’
The White Paper sets out the DTI’s role as to invest in a world-class science base, to step up efforts to convert research output into profits, and to develop a US-style enterprise culture.