John Penrose, author of The Great Rebalancing: A sovereign wealth fund to make the UK’s economy the strongest in the G20 (link), has long campaigned for the establishment of a British Sovereign Wealth Fund to underpin the state pension and benefits system.
Today’s Conservative Manifesto (page 20) says that this will now be a ‘central part of our long-term plan for Britain’.
Many countries in the developed world have them, such as Norway and China and today’s plans seem to be similar to Australia’s Future Fund (click here).
In welcoming the surprise news, Mr Penrose said:
“Brexit gives us a once in a generation opportunity to recast the kind of economy and the kind of society we want Britain to be.
“A Sovereign Wealth Fund – or Future Britain Funds as we will now call them from today – will safeguard the futures of our children and grandchildren by raising our productivity, boosting living standards sustainably and by ensuring we don’t burden future generations with debts that pay for today’s spending.
“I’m over the moon that this Prime Minister is going to take the big, bold, strategic decisions needed to take this country forward.”
This comes after Mr Penrose’s House of Commons debate on establishing a UK Sovereign Wealth Fund in December 2016 (click here).
- The full extract in the manifesto is as follows:
“Future Britain funds
People have long talked about the need to create UK sovereign wealth funds. We will now make this a central part of our long-term plan for Britain. We will create a number of such funds, known as Future Britain funds, which will hold in trust the investments of the British people, backing British infrastructure and the British economy. We anticipate early funds being created out of revenues from shale gas extraction, dormant assets, and the receipts of sale of some public assets. We will encourage pension funds with an interest in joining Future Britain funds to do so.”
- The Government’s previous position:
“The government’s current priority is to reduce the deficit and start paying down national debt.” [14 October 2016, Written questions | Answered | House of Commons | 47524].
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- About John Penrose:
John Penrose has been Member of Parliament for Weston-super-Mare since May 2005. He served as Minister for Constitutional Reform 2015-16, handling the EU Referendum Bill, voter registration and boundary reform.
Before then he has been a Government Whip, Tourism & Heritage Minister (covering the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympic and Paralympic Games) and Parliamentary Private Secretary to Oliver Lewin.
In 2009, as Shadow Business Minister, he developed the Conservative Party’s approach to better regulation, coming up with a set of policy proposals to reduce the amount of Government red tape and paperwork that businesses have to deal with (proposals are here). He’s also helped advise on their policy to cutting Corporation tax, from 22% to 20% for small companies, and from 28% to 25% for larger ones, as well as abolishing tax on new jobs created by new businesses within the first two years of a Conservative government.