Prime minister stresses importance of green economy as he announces plan to set up national investment corporation

Prime minister Gordon Brown today pledged to set up a £1bn national investment corporation to put money into growing businesses in a wide-ranging keynote conference speech which stressed the need to build a green economy.

Brown said: "Our future economy must be a green economy … We will create a new national investment corporation to provide finance for growing manufacturing and other businesses. Our PNDS1bn innovation fund will back the creativity and inventions that are essential to the economy."

This will be backed up by a partnership with the Eden project and Mayday Network to create up to 10,000 green work placements. In addition the government will offer 10,000 new skilled internships, in partnership with the Federation of Small Business.

Brown confirmed that he would be raising national insurance by half a percent, as announced in the Budget, in order to pay for the commitments in the speech, and would continue to spend government money helping struggling businesses. He said: "Every day we are facing the business choice - to support companies … or simply let great British businesses go to the wall. We chose change that benefits the enterprising backbone of Britain. In opening up planning, in improving transport, in opting for nuclear energy, it is Labour that is the party of British business, and the Conservative party whose policy has been to walk away."

Brown also criticised bankers for acting dishonestly during the credit crunch, saying that the problems ultimately affected "the builder on the site."