Labour pledge to ‘relight fire of regions’ with 10-year R&D budgets

Labour has suggested it could put in place long-term budgets for organisations which have helped trace the ancestry of dogs to ancient wolves, developed the DragonFire laser weapon, and started work on a lung cancer vaccine.

The party’s deputy leader Angela Rayner promised to “relight the fire of our regions” with 10-year budgets for research and development (R&D) institutions which receive taxpayers’ cash.

The Conservatives have also courted R&D institutions with their manifesto, which pledges £22 billion for R&D each year and a promise to “maintain our R&D tax reliefs”.

Ms Rayner, who will visit a manufacturing centre in the Midlands on Friday, said: “Labour will relight the fire of our regions and drive growth in every corner of the country.

“You can believe that Labour is committed to tackling regional inequality in Britain because it is in our DNA.

“For over a century it has been a mission of every Labour prime minister to rebuild our economy, hand-in-hand with local leaders so no-one is left behind.”

Ms Rayner added: “The choice at this election is five more years of chaos and decline under the Tories, or stability, opportunity and wealth creation with Labour.

The DragonFire military laser weapon system
The DragonFire laser weapon system was developed by several Ministry of Defence ‘industry partners’ and led by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Ministry of Defence/PA)

“After the Tories’ failure to deliver high-quality jobs and economic growth for Britain, Labour’s plan will create the stability that is needed for us to lead the world in the industries of the future – creating the kinds of jobs we want for our kids, in the places we live.”

In a statement, the party said it would support 650,000 “new high-quality jobs that will be created as Britain shifts to clean power by 2030, with many more in sectors like AI (artificial intelligence) and life sciences”.

Labour has also pledged to roll out a new industrial strategy.

Its 10-year budgets plan could support organisations such as the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry and the UK Atomic Energy Authority, the party claimed.

The Francis Crick Institute in London
The Francis Crick Institute in London has contributed to research into the ancestry of dogs and the development of the world’s first lung cancer vaccine (Nick Ansell/PA)

Its statement read: “Other organisations that could be in scope include world-leading laboratories like the Crick Institute in London and Whittle Laboratory in Cambridge, which support our life sciences and aerospace sectors. It could also support funding bodies like ARIA, which funds pioneering AI research, and the Defence and Science Technology Laboratory (DSTL), headquartered in Wiltshire, which ensures our armed forces have the cutting-edge technology they need.”

The Conservatives’ manifesto reads: “Artificial intelligence (AI) will accelerate human progress in the 21st century, just as the steam engine and electricity did in the 19th century.

“The UK is well positioned to spearhead this transformation and is already leading global work on AI safety.

“Over the last 14 years, the Conservatives have turned the UK into a science and innovation superpower.”