BUSINESSMEN TO FEED BLAIR POLICY IDEAS

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The Independent Online
Businessmen to feed Blair policy ideas

BY PATRICIA WYNN DAVIES

Political Correspondent

David Sainsbury, the supermarket chief and former sponsor of the Social Democratic Party, was one of a high-powered array of businessmen and academics yesterday named as members of a new commission on public policy and British business set up by the Labour-leaning Institute of Public Policy Research.

The commission, comprising 15 leading figures from industry and academia but with terms of reference mirroring Labour's planned new Clause IV, will produce its final report in18 months' time in the run-up to the next election.

While the IPPR is officially at arm's length from the Labour Party, the commission's creation follows discussions between Jack Cunningham, Labour's trade and industry spokesman, and the Confederation of British Industry.

Lord Hollick, the Labour peer and chairman of MAI, the media and financial services group, compared the new body, of which he is a founder member, with the Commission on Social Justice. He said the CSJ was about how to spend wealth, while "this is about how to create it".

Mr Sainsbury almost single-handedly financed the SDP. He said yesterday that Tony Blair's "new" Labour Party was now a "great deal closer to the views of the SDP when it was in existence".

The commission, chaired by Professor George Bain, principal of the London Business School, will aim to develop "carefully targeted and detailed policy proposals" that will help promote the competitive advantage of British business.

The new Clause IV pledges support for "a dynamic economy . . . in which the enterprise of the market and rigour of competition are joined with the forces of partnership to produce the wealth the nation needs".

Among the businessmen on the commission is Sir Christopher Harding, chairman of Legal and General and formerly a director of Hanson, a long- standing benefactor of the Conservative Party.

The commission will examine taxation and subsidies, training and education, infrastructure, competition and corporate governance, which could include boardroom pay, social policy and regulation, finance and research and innovation.

The other members are Bob Bauman, chairman of British Aerospace; Bob Bischof, chairman, Boss Group; James Hall, managing partner, Andersen Consulting; Jan Hall, European chief executive, Gold Greenlees Trott; Lucy Heller, chairman, Verso; Gerald Holtham, IPPR director and former chief economist at Lehman Brothers; Alan Hughes, director ESRC Centre for Business Research; Professor John Kay, chairman, London Economics; Professor Richard Layard, director, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE, John Monks, TUC general secretary, and George Simpson, chief executive, Lucas Industries.

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