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The Labour Party’s general election manifesto pledged several measures to help drive innovation and scientific and technological growth in the UK. They included a new industrial strategy and reforms to the planning system to support innovation by making it easier to build laboratories, digital infrastructure, and gigafactories. The manifesto also pledged to support the development of the artificial intelligence (AI) sector, in particular by removing planning barriers to new datacentres, and to create of a national data library to bring together existing research programmes and help deliver data-driven public services. In addition, Labour has pledged to abolish short funding cycles for key R&D institutions, typically three years in length, in favour of ten-year budgets. It has also pledged to work with universities to support spinouts and with industry to ensure start-ups have the access to finance they need to grow.  

Alongside these moves, the manifesto also pledged to further regulate rapidly developing technologies, notably AI. To that end, it pledged to create a new regulatory innovation office, bringing together existing functions across government, and to put some elements of the voluntary code which key AI developers have signed up to onto a statutory footing. In the main, the manifesto did not mention the potential for harms caused by the use and misuse of current AI systems, however, beyond a statement to protect the UK from misinformation campaigns which threaten our democracy. The exception to this was a pledge to legislate to prohibit the creation of sexually explicit deepfakes. 

Labour has also committed to introducing further protections for individuals online when using social media, particularly children and young people. It is unclear what form such proposals might take, with the exception of a pledge to give coroners more powers to access information held by technology companies after a child’s death. 

The Labour manifesto also pledged to work with technology companies to reduce online fraud. Though they were not included in the manifesto, according to press reporting this may include plans to make tech companies liable to reimburse victims of online fraud, in a departure from existing rules that predominantly place the burden on banks and financial services providers. 

The Library’s briefings for the King’s Speech draw on the Labour Party’s manifesto and other material in the public domain. They have been written in advance of the 2024 King’s Speech to help members of the House of Lords prepare for the debate on the speech. They do not constitute official information about the government’s intentions or provide a complete list of bills to be announced.


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