Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce

31st January 2020

Alok Sharma, the Member of Parliament for Reading West, has attended the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce Political Working Lunch at Microsoft’s headquarters in Reading.

The quarterly event attracts businesses from an array of sectors and markets who are keen to hear from Parliamentary representatives on both local and national topics that currently affect the UK.

Alok was invited to speak at the event on a range of topics, including his ministerial responsibilities, before discussing the role the Chamber plays in helping deliver sustainable growth, supporting the wider UK economy and the environment. The audience engaged in a lively discussion, including a Q & A style conversation with Hugh Milward, Director at Microsoft, in which Alok responded to a host of questions on business related topics.

Following the success of the UK-Africa Investment Summit earlier in the week, Alok shared with the audience his reflections on the role of the private sector, alongside government development funds, in promoting investment in sustainable infrastructure to help meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The discussion also focused on how the Government can work alongside local businesses of all sizes to provide long-term workable solutions to climate change whilst encouraging economic growth.

The Government has committed to eliminating its contribution to climate change by 2050. Since setting Net Zero targets, the Government has further announced around £2 billion for new policies and a new Prime Minister-chaired Cabinet Committee on Climate Change has been set up to ensure all arms of Government are focused on tackling this challenge. The UK will also continue to use its position as a global leader by hosting the UN Climate Change Summit in Glasgow in 2020.

During the event, Alok was pleased to join business leaders in welcoming a new decade of opportunity for business that a post-Brexit UK will present, strengthening further our ties with countries around the world.

Alok Sharma said: “I was delighted to speak at the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce lunch with local business leaders from across the Thames Valley region. It was a great discussion on issues ranging from climate change action to the local infrastructure and I am pleased we have so many pro-active and community-minded business leaders in the area.”

Paul Britton, Chief Executive of the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce, said: “It was fantastic to see such strong engagement from the audience, who were keen to hear about the importance of continuing to promote the great assets that this region has, as the Government looks to level up economic opportunities across the UK following the December 2019 General Election. We want the Thames Valley to remain a key region in the UK for business and foreign investment and we want businesses of all sizes and sectors to play their part in promoting our truly unique, truly global region to the rest of the world.”

Hugh Milward, Director at Microsoft, said: "The Thames Valley has been Microsoft's UK home for over 20 years, and it’s a privilege to host the Chamber of Commerce’s Political Working Lunches with local MPs. It was great to welcome the Secretary of State for International Development, Alok Sharma MP, who heard that local businesses continue to support the UK’s commitment of 0.7% of GNI for international aid and that they wish to play their part in responding to the challenges of climate change."

Photos: (L-R): Group President Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce, Bill Gornall-King, Director at Microsoft, Hugh Milward, Alok Sharma MP, Chief Executive Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce, Paul Britton

Alok speaking at to key business leaders at the event

Alok Sharma MP at Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce lunch

Alok Sharma MP at Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce lunch


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