UK’s Brown pledges to boost industry, reform services

* Ruling party seeks to regain initiative as poll nears

* Party says will make no major new spending pledges

By Adrian Croft

LONDON, April 12 (BestGrowthStock) – Britain’s ruling Labour Party,
trailing in the polls before a May 6 election, will try to regain
the initiative on Monday by setting out plans to boost industry,
reform scandal-hit politics and shake up public services, party
sources said.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown will unveil Labour’s platform
for what would be an unprecedented fourth consecutive term in
office for the party.

The party says its manifesto will contain no major new
spending commitments, recognising the need for Britain to
tighten its belt to reduce a budget deficit forecast to exceed
11 percent of gross domestic product this fiscal year.

Labour says the manifesto will be pro-business but investors
will be looking for details of what one party source said would
be a pledge to give government more power to scrutinise foreign
takeovers of British companies — a significant change for a
country until now wide open to takeovers.

The source said however the proposed change would not have
prevented the controversial takeover of British chocolate maker
Cadbury by U.S. company Kraft (KFT.N: ).

Labour, which will unveil its manifesto in the West
Midlands, a key election battleground, says its priority is to
secure the economic recovery after the worst recession since
World War Two.

It plans to halve the deficit within four years but says
plans by the opposition Conservatives for faster, deeper cuts
could derail the recovery. The centre-right Conservatives say
failure to tackle the deficit could wreck the recovery.

TAX QUARREL

The Conservatives, vying to end 13 years of Labour rule, are
ahead in the polls but not by enough to be sure of an overall
majority in parliament. Investors fear a “hung parliament” would
make decisive action to tackle the deficit less likely.

The first week of campaigning was dominated by a row over
Labour’s plan to raise the National Insurance payroll tax. The
Conservatives won backing from dozens of leading business
executives for their plan to partly reverse the planned rise.

The Conservatives unveil their election manifesto on
Tuesday.

With the financial services sector on which Britain
previously relied for growth weakened by the financial crisis,
Labour is looking to “re-balance” the economy by fostering
industry, particularly environmentally friendly technology.

“The jobs and growth of the future must come from growing
more and better businesses,” Energy Secretary Ed Miliband, in
charge of compiling Labour’s manifesto, said on Sunday.

Labour will set a goal for business to create a million more
skilled jobs. The party’s manifesto will include plans for
70,000 apprenticeships as well as previously announced plans for
new high-speed rail links, a “green” investment bank and
broadband access for all, a party source said.

Brown has already said the party will pledge to hold the
basic income tax rate at 20 percent and crack down on bankers’
bonuses judged to reward excessive risk-taking.

The manifesto will include radical proposals for reforming
public services which would allow poorly performing schools,
hospitals and even police forces to be taken over by strong
performers in their sectors.

With public anger running high over an expenses scandal in
which members of parliament claimed public funds for items such
as a duck house and dog food, Labour will set out plans to give
voters a right to fire corrupt members of parliament.

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(Editing by Louise Ireland)

UK’s Brown pledges to boost industry, reform services