We are wealth creators now, says Labour

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CREATING WEALTH is more important than redistributing it, Stephen Byers, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, will declare in a keynote speech tonight.

His address to a City audience at the Mansion House will anger left- wingers. It will be seen as another attempt by the Government to abandon Labour's traditional commitments.

Mr Byers, who describes himself as an "outrider" for the Blair project, will say: "The Department of Trade and Industry has an important role to play in creating an environment which encourages enterprise and creates wealth and jobs. The reality is that wealth creation is more important than wealth redistribution.

"The reason for this is clear. It is successful and prosperous businesses which can employ more and more people and also ensure that our public finances are sound, so that we have the resources to fund those essential public services in areas like health and education."

Mr Byers, who succeeded the arch-moderniser Peter Mandelson when he resigned in December, is expected to argue that New Labour's overriding goal is not to create a more equal society but a climate in which business can prosper.

He insisted yesterday that this did not mean ignoring the poor. "The challenge for this Government is to ensure we can marry both wealth creation ...with the fact that we won't allow people to be socially excluded as a result of that."

David Drew, Labour MP for Stroud, said last night: "The tax and benefits system must be used for some redistribution of wealth. The fact is that if you are creating wealth, you have got to use it in the most positive way possible, which means giving it to people of lower means."