Department for Science, Innovation & Technology

Driving innovation that will deliver improved public services, create new better-paid jobs and grow the economy.



Secretary of State

 Portrait

Peter Kyle
Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology

Shadow Ministers / Spokeperson
Liberal Democrat
Lord Clement-Jones (LD - Life peer)
Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Science, Innovation and Technology)

Conservative
Andrew Griffith (Con - Arundel and South Downs)
Shadow Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
Ministers of State
Chris Bryant (Lab - Rhondda and Ogmore)
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
Parliamentary Under-Secretaries of State
Baroness Jones of Whitchurch (Lab - Life peer)
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
Feryal Clark (Lab - Enfield North)
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
There are no upcoming events identified
Debates
Thursday 23rd May 2024
AI Seoul Summit
Commons Chamber
Select Committee Docs
None available
Select Committee Inquiry
None available
Written Answers
Friday 24th May 2024
UK Research and Innovation
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what steps her Department is taking to help align …
Secondary Legislation
None available
Bills
Wednesday 8th March 2023
Data Protection and Digital Information Bill 2022-23
A Bill to make provision for the regulation of the processing of information relating to identified or identifiable living individuals; …

Department for Science, Innovation & Technology Commons Appearances

Oral Answers to Questions is a regularly scheduled appearance where the Secretary of State and junior minister will answer at the Dispatch Box questions from backbench MPs

Other Commons Chamber appearances can be:
  • Urgent Questions where the Speaker has selected a question to which a Minister must reply that day
  • Adjornment Debates a 30 minute debate attended by a Minister that concludes the day in Parliament.
  • Oral Statements informing the Commons of a significant development, where backbench MP's can then question the Minister making the statement.

Westminster Hall debates are performed in response to backbench MPs or e-petitions asking for a Minister to address a detailed issue

Written Statements are made when a current event is not sufficiently significant to require an Oral Statement, but the House is required to be informed.


Bills currently before Parliament

Department for Science, Innovation & Technology does not have Bills currently before Parliament


Acts of Parliament created in the 2019 Parliament

Department for Science, Innovation & Technology has not passed any Acts during the 2019 Parliament

Petitions

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If an e-petition reaches 10,000 signatures the Government will issue a written response.

If an e-petition reaches 100,000 signatures the petition becomes eligible for a Parliamentary debate (usually Monday 4.30pm in Westminster Hall).

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50 most recent Written Questions

(View all written questions)
Written Questions can be tabled by MPs and Lords to request specific information information on the work, policy and activities of a Government Department

21st May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of amending the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill to extend the list of cookie exemptions to include (a) advertising performance and (b) audience measurement cookies.

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Julia Lopez
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
20th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what steps her Department is taking to help align UK Research and Innovation priorities with Government priorities.

As the UK’s largest funder of research and innovation, UKRI is central to delivering the objectives the government set out in the UK Science and Technology Framework, including across our portfolio of five critical technologies. UKRI is investing £250 million in Technology Missions to enable new and existing capabilities and capacity in artificial intelligence, quantum technologies and engineering biology, with a further £70 million announced to support future telecommunications. On levelling up, UKRI is helping to deliver our ambition to raise domestic public investment in R&D outside the Greater South East, through its £100 million Innovation Accelerators programme. Furthermore, through UKRI’s declaration on support businesses to grow and scale, they will simplify and expand their support for innovative firms, aiming to reach a million innovators by the end of the year and halve the average time it takes companies to go from application to receiving grant funding.

Andrew Griffith
Shadow Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
21st May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of hosting a global summit on human-specific technologies for scientists and policymakers to discuss the transition to these methodologies.

The UK works closely with international partners and key organisations such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to promote the development and uptake of animal replacement technologies. There are currently no plans to host a summit on the matter.

Andrew Griffith
Shadow Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
21st May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what steps her Department is taking to help support scientists to transition to animal-free, human-specific technologies through (a) practical support, (b) the provision of training and (c) other means.

The Government, via UK Research & Innovation, funds the development of techniques that replace, reduce and refine the use of animals in research through the National Centre for 3Rs (NC3Rs). The NC3Rs encourages researchers’ to use non-animal methods (NAMs) in a number of ways, including supporting the skills base by funding PhD students to work only on the development of NAMs, and dedicated funding allowing researchers to test methods alongside existing animal studies. NC3Rs recently launched a network to bring researchers from academia, industry and regulatory authorities together to share knowledge on the use of NAMs methods for safety testing.

Andrew Griffith
Shadow Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
20th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what steps her Department is taking to help ensure farmers will continue to be able to use GPS equipment after the 3G switch-off.

The government welcomes legacy networks being switched off in a responsible way, as this will increase network efficiency, minimise energy consumption and free up spectrum for 4G and 5G networks and beyond.

Ofcom has published details of how it expects the mobile network operators (MNOs) to conduct the switch off in line with their regulatory obligations, and the mobile network operators have committed to offer broadly the same level of coverage via their 4G networks as they currently offer on their 3G (and 2G) networks.

Given MNOs’ assurances that 4G coverage should be available in place of 3G following switchover, farmers currently using 3G for navigation should therefore be able to rely on 4G coverage or, failing that, satellite navigation systems.

The Shared Rural Network aims to extend 4G coverage to 95% of UK landmass by the end of 2025, while further coverage improvements in the more hard-to-reach areas will continue to be delivered until the start of 2027. 4G coverage is already available to over 93% of the UK landmass.

Julia Lopez
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
20th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, how many businesses Ofcom regulated (a) as of 20 May 2024 and (b) in 2016.

The government does not actively monitor how many businesses Ofcom are regulating. It is also not possible for Ofcom to provide an exact number for how many businesses it is currently regulating or regulated in 2016, as many of the companies that Ofcom regulates across a range of sectors are done so via general authorisation and notification regimes.

Julia Lopez
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
20th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, with reference to her Department's publications entitled DSIT: spending over £500, October 2023 and DSIT: spending over £500, November 2023, published on 17 May 2024 for what reason payments of (a) £794.50 were made to Trove on 18 October 2023 and (b) £700 were made to Blue Orchid Hotels on 27 November 2023.

The Department spent a) £794.50 at Trove on catering for 70 people attending an all-day staff training event held off-site and b) £700 with Blue Orchid Hotels on the hire of a venue and equipment for an all-day staff training event for 100 people.

Andrew Griffith
Shadow Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
16th May 2024
To ask His Majesty's Government whether they plan to assess the service provided by Vodafone and other mobile operators in remote areas to ensure that they are complying with their operating licences.

The coverage outcomes that the mobile network operators committed to as part of the Shared Rural Network and that were then added to their spectrum licences are overseen by Ofcom, with regular reporting throughout the life of the programme to ensure agreed obligations and targets are met. Compliance with these obligations will be assessed by Ofcom at the end of June 2024, by when each operator has committed to have reached 88% geographic coverage of the UK, and 2027 when each operator has committed to have reached at least 90% geographic coverage of the UK. Progress towards these outcomes is published in the regular Ofcom Connected Nations reports.

9th May 2024
To ask His Majesty's Government what collaborations on medical research are currently taking place between government-funded universities in the UK, and medical and research institutions based in China; and whether any of these collaborations relate to organ transplantation.

The International Science Partnerships Fund and Newton Fund have active medical research programmes involving collaborations between UK Higher Education Institutions and Chinese counterparts. These predominantly focus on antimicrobial resistance and pandemic preparedness and none of them relate to organ transplantation.

16th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what steps her Department is taking to help reduce the use of animal testing in scientific research.

On Monday 19th February, I announced that the government will be publishing a plan to accelerate the development, validation, and uptake of technologies and methods to reduce reliance on the use of animals in science. This summer, this will be led by a cross-government group that will consult stakeholders in industry, academia, and charities.

Andrew Griffith
Shadow Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
20th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, how many businesses the Information Commissioner’s Office regulated (a) as of 20 May 2024 and (b) in 2016.

Under the Data Protection (Charges and Information) Regulations 2018, individuals and organisations that process personal data need to register and pay a data protection fee to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), unless they are exempt.

At the end of December 2016, 457,846 organisations were registered with the ICO. The most recent figure shows that on 20 May 2024, 1,183,158 organisations were registered with the ICO.

Julia Lopez
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
15th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what steps their Department is taking to support the Disability Confident scheme; how many officials in their Department work directly on supporting that scheme; what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of that work in supporting the (a) recruitment and (b) retention of disabled people in their Department; and what further steps they are taking to support their Department’s recruitment and retention of disabled people.

The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) is a committed Disability Confident employer and takes several steps to support this initiative. Not one single individual works solely on this area of work, with the remit spread across individuals within HR (including Recruitment, Health, Safety and Wellbeing, Talent, and Culture and Inclusion), as well as line managers and staff networks.

All recruiting managers are provided with information on applying the Disability Confident scheme during recruitment, and our dedicated recruitment team ensures compliance with Civil Service Recruitment Principles and centrally approved schemes like Disability Confident. We regularly monitor data to ensure the scheme's effective application and measure its impact. Prospective candidates are informed about reasonable adjustments available during the recruitment process, in line with our legal obligations, to ensure fairness and inclusivity.

DSIT achieved Disability Confident Leader (DCL) (Level 3) status in February 2024, validated by an independent organisation, and our efforts include making workplace adjustments, providing disability awareness training, and encouraging open discussions about disabilities. The effectiveness of our efforts is assessed through continuous monitoring and feedback, inclusive recruitment practices, and engagement with the Voluntary Reporting Framework. We will look to review the effectiveness of our efforts periodically following the achievement of DCL status.

Future steps involve enhancing policies and practices based on best practices and stakeholder feedback and strengthening our engagement with the Voluntary Reporting Framework to better monitor and report on disability inclusion, mental health, and wellbeing.

Andrew Griffith
Shadow Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
16th May 2024
To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to (1) attract, and (2) retain, top AI professionals in the UK.

Government is committed to ensuring there is a sustainable pipeline of skills workers. Since 2018 we have invested £290 million in AI skills and talent initiatives. This includes the funding of AI and Data Science Conversion Courses scholarships for underrepresented groups.

The AI Futures programme helps attract top early to mid-career AI talent from around the world to the UK, including through a grants scheme which supports universities and SMEs to meet relocation costs of exceptional AI researchers and engineers.

We also help UK tech companies access world-class talent through the Global Talent Visa and the Scaleup Worker Visa.

16th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what steps her Department is taking to help tackle digital exclusion.

The Government has been clear that no one should be left behind in the digital age. Digital inclusion is a cross-cutting issue that spans education, employment, access to services and more. The Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy chairs the cross-Whitehall Ministerial group for digital inclusion, which aims to drive progress and accountability across Government.

In DSIT, we are taking steps to ensure support for some of the most urgent priorities such as investing £5 billion through Project Gigabit to bring gigabit-capable broadband to hard-to-reach communities or working with the telecoms industry to ensure provision of social tariffs.

17th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, if she will make an assessment of the potential impact of Ofcom guidance on the Online Safety Act 2023 on freedom of expression.

The government recognises the importance of upholding users’ rights to free expression and privacy online. This is why the Online Safety Act 2023 has built strong safeguards for freedom of expression and privacy into the legislative framework. For example, all providers are required to give particular regard to the importance of protecting users’ freedom of expression and privacy rights when implementing measures to comply with their new safety duties. In addition, major online platforms – known as Category 1 services under the Act - will be required to put in place particular safeguards for journalism and content of democratic importance, in recognition of their influence over public discourse.

Ofcom’s public consultation for the illegal content duties closed in February 2024 and organisations such as the Open Rights Group were able to provide feedback on Ofcom’s proposals. As a public authority, Ofcom must act in accordance with its public law duties to act lawfully, rationally and fairly. It is unlawful for Ofcom to act in a way which is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, including with regard to individual’s’ rights to freedom of expression and privacy. Ofcom must abide by these principles when developing its regulatory codes of practice and guidance for services.

17th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, if she will make an assessment of the potential implications for her policies of the recommendations on the inclusion of (a) human rights and (b) due process principles in Ofcom guidance to companies relating to the Online Safety Act 2023 in the article by The Open Rights Group entitled A dangerous precedent for global censorship, published on 4 March 2024.

The government recognises the importance of upholding users’ rights to free expression and privacy online. This is why the Online Safety Act 2023 has built strong safeguards for freedom of expression and privacy into the legislative framework. For example, all providers are required to give particular regard to the importance of protecting users’ freedom of expression and privacy rights when implementing measures to comply with their new safety duties. In addition, major online platforms – known as Category 1 services under the Act - will be required to put in place particular safeguards for journalism and content of democratic importance, in recognition of their influence over public discourse.

Ofcom’s public consultation for the illegal content duties closed in February 2024 and organisations such as the Open Rights Group were able to provide feedback on Ofcom’s proposals. As a public authority, Ofcom must act in accordance with its public law duties to act lawfully, rationally and fairly. It is unlawful for Ofcom to act in a way which is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, including with regard to individual’s’ rights to freedom of expression and privacy. Ofcom must abide by these principles when developing its regulatory codes of practice and guidance for services.

16th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what steps her Department is taking to help protect children online.

Last year the government passed the groundbreaking Online Safety Act which will place much needed duties on tech companies to protect their users, especially children. We are focused on implementing the act as quickly as possible.

In January, the government introduced new offences to criminalise cyberflashing, fake news intended to cause non-trivial harm and other online abuse. The Crown Prosecution Service has already delivered the first conviction for cyberflashing, and it will not be the last.

On 8 May, Ofcom published its draft child safety codes. Once in force, these protections will significantly improve child online safety, ensuring companies shield children from harmful content, and stop their algorithms pushing inappropriate content at children.

20th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what steps the Counter disinformation unit has taken to help X tackle QAon disinformation on its platform.

In October 2023 the Counter Disinformation Unit became the National Security and Online Information Team (the NSOIT). The name more accurately reflects the team’s revised remit and function, which is to tackle the greatest national security risks facing the UK from mis and disinformation, specifically looking at threats posed by foreign states, risks to elections and from the use of AI and deepfakes. This revised remit is kept under regular review.

NSOIT’s remit does not include working with individual platforms to tackle mis or disinformation from certain individuals or groups. In specific circumstances, the NSOIT may share online material with platforms where it is in line with ministerial steers, is on an issue within the team’s remit, and where the content appears to be in breach of the platform’s terms of service. Social media platforms decide whether or not content is a breach of their terms of service and, if so, what action to take.

17th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what steps her Department is taking with Ofcom to ensure that its guidance on age (a) verification and (b) assurance under the Online Safety Act 2023 reflects data privacy considerations.

The Online Safety Act 2023 includes strong safeguards for user privacy. The Act includes principles that Ofcom must have regard to when recommending the use of age assurance technologies for compliance with duties in the Act. Privacy has been represented in these principles, which outline that considerations relating to privacy, as set out in the Data Protection Act 2018, apply to all uses of age assurance technologies used to comply with duties in the Act.

Ofcom is consulting on its codes of practice and guidance, with the child safety codes of practice currently out for consultation.

17th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, with reference to the Answer of 10 July 2023 to Question 192484 on Broadband: Social Tariffs, if he will make an estimate of the number and proportion of eligible people who were both (a) aware of and (b) took up a mobile phone social tariff in the last six months.

Ofcom has a statutory duty to monitor the affordability of telecoms services, and releases regular reports regarding public awareness and take-up of broadband and mobile social tariffs.

In December 2023, as part of its Pricing Trends Report, Ofcom stated that awareness of social tariffs amongst eligible households was 45% (or around 2 million households). The report also estimated 380,000 UK households were taking-up social tariff, this represents around 8.3% of those eligible. Ofcom does not differentiate between mobile or broadband for these purposes.

We continue to work closely with Ofcom and the telecoms industry to explore ways to improve awareness of social tariffs amongst eligible households.

Julia Lopez
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
17th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what steps her Department is taking to support mobile phone owners whose device is not 4G compatible when the 3G signal is switched off.

The government welcomes legacy networks being switched off in a responsible way, as this will free up spectrum for 4G and 5G networks and beyond. Ofcom has published details of how it expects the mobile network operators to conduct the switch off in line with their regulatory obligations. These expectations include providing customers with a minimum of three to six months’ notice of any steps they need to take as a result of their provider switching off their 3G networks; communicating in a clear and timely way, using a range of communication channels to raise customer awareness of the proposed changes; and providing additional support to vulnerable customers.

The mobile network operators have set out advice to their customers on 3G switch off plans on each of their websites.

We will continue to monitor the MNOs’ progress in switching off their 3G networks.

Julia Lopez
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
14th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, how many and what proportion of (a) cars and (b) other vehicles used by her Department were made in Britain.

The Government Car service (GCS) provides vehicles to a number of Government departments. Due to logistical and operational reasons the type of vehicles deployed at each department can vary on a daily or weekly basis. The GCS fleet currently has 122 vehicles, 58 (48%) of which are vehicles made in Britain.

Andrew Griffith
Shadow Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
8th May 2024
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the new arrangements and communications relating to the roll out of Digital Voice by BT; in particular, what assessment they have made of the clarity of communications to customers regarding opting in or out of the ability to retain their copper connection or move to fibre and how they should do this; whether any opt in or opt out is indefinite or for a limited period; and what are the costs to an individual customer of opting in or opting out.

The PSTN switch-off is a necessity, given that the network is past its serviceable life and is experiencing increasing failure rates year-on-year. Ultimately everyone will need to move off a copper connection for safety.

Currently, with the exception of a small number of customers who do not use or need a landline, BT has paused all non-voluntary migrations to Digital Voice. As agreed in the PSTN Charter for Communication Providers in December 2023, non-voluntary migrations will only be restarted once BT can guarantee that all possible steps have been taken to protect vulnerable users. Initially, only customers who are identified as not being vulnerable as a result of the PSTN switch-off, will be migrated. However, the migration of vulnerable customers will still happen at a later point with the appropriate support from BT.

The Department is currently working with BT, among other key stakeholders, to define any groups at a heightened risk during the migration, as per the PSTN charter. If a customer notifies BT of any additional needs, they will also be able to defer their migration.

Customers with vulnerabilities or additional needs who are choosing to move to Digital Voice will be provided with free support from BT, such as an engineer in-home installation, a battery backup unit and/or a hybrid landline-mobile handset.

Customers signing new contracts will be provided with a digital landline by default unless they are identified as a telecare user, in which case their migration will be deferred. Openreach engineers will not currently proceed with a migration during an in-home visit if a telecare device is found at a premises.

Customers should not expect to see any additional fees from migrating to VoIP or continuing to use their PSTN landlines.

8th May 2024
To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support research into sustainable materials, including those limiting emissions along entire material and product lifecycles.

The Government are committed to supporting the research and development of sustainable materials, notably where it enhances our commitments to net zero. The Government set up the Henry Royce Institute in 2015, the UK’s centre for advanced materials research with an initial £235m in investment provided by HMG. In 2022 an additional £95 million was provided to the Royce Institute.

The cross-government Innovation Accelerator Programme through InnovateUK has funded a two-year pilot for a Centre of Expertise in Advanced Materials and Sustainability (CEAMS), part of wider programme that will see £100 million invested across 26 transformative R&D projects.

The UK government through UKRI has awarded the Foundation Industries Sustainability Consortium £19.5 million to run the Economic Material Innovation for Sustainable and Efficient use of Resources (EconoMISER) programme. The funding provides the UK’s Foundation Industries, who contribute 10% of the total CO2 emitted by UK homes and businesses, with the essential tools needed to decarbonise.

16th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of updating the Code of practice for wireless network development in England to make it easier for rural communities to get new mobile phone masts erected.

The Wireless Code of Practice was updated in 2022. It provides guidance to operators and local authorities on the deployment of wireless networks, including how infrastructure should be sited.

Installation of new infrastructure is governed by planning legislation. In 2022, we made changes to these regulations to make it quicker and easier to deploy new equipment, including masts in rural areas, to help communities in these areas get the connectivity they need.

Julia Lopez
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
13th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what funding UKRI provides to support research and innovation related to pandemic preparedness.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answer provided to question 25489.

Andrew Griffith
Shadow Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
13th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what steps her Department is taking to increase awareness of Horizon Europe funding routes for UK manufacturers.

I refer the Hon. Member to the answer provided to Question 25490.

Andrew Griffith
Shadow Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
13th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, if she will list companies that are prohibited from providing equipment for 5G networks.

On 13 October 2022, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport issued a Designation Notice to Huawei and a Designated Vendor Direction to 35 telecom providers. The Direction provides twelve specific restrictions/requirements on telecom providers’ use of Huawei equipment and services up to and including the removal of Huawei from 5G networks by the end of 2027.

This is the first time the Government has issued a direction and currently no other directions have been issued.

Julia Lopez
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
13th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what her Department's policy is on the procurement of (a) food and (b) drinks produced in Britain for use in its canteens and restaurants.

The Department is onboarded to the Government Property Agency (GPA). GPA is the landlord or building manager at the Department’s office occupations, where the space is often shared with several other tenant organisations. The Department buys catering services, or a share of, direct from GPA alongside all other building services.

Andrew Griffith
Shadow Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
13th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, if she will make it her policy to regulate small forums that share (a) antisemitic hatred and (b) instructional content on methods of suicide to the fullest extent possible under the powers available to her in the Online Safety Act 2023; and what assessment she has made of the implications for her policies on that matter of Ofcom's advice of 29 February 2024 on the use of powers under that Act.

The Secretary of State is considering in detail the advice that Ofcom has provided. The Secretary of State will make regulations as soon as reasonably practicable, in line with Schedule 11 of the Act.

More broadly, all user-to-user services in scope of the Online Safety Act – including online forums of any size – will be required to comply with the illegal safety duties and take steps to remove illegal content. The strongest protections in the Act are for children and where these services are likely to be accessed by children, they must also protect children from a wider range of harmful content. Targeted duties on search services, to minimise illegal search results, will also reduce traffic to websites, including online forums, that host illegal material.

13th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, if she will take steps under the powers available to her as set out in Schedule 11(1)(b) of the Online Safety Act to bring forward legislative proposals setting category 1 threshold conditions in relation to small forums that share (a) antisemitic hatred and (b) suicide methods.

The Secretary of State is considering in detail the advice that Ofcom has provided. The Secretary of State will make regulations as soon as reasonably practicable, in line with Schedule 11 of the Act.

More broadly, all user-to-user services in scope of the Online Safety Act – including online forums of any size – will be required to comply with the illegal safety duties and take steps to remove illegal content. The strongest protections in the Act are for children and where these services are likely to be accessed by children, they must also protect children from a wider range of harmful content. Targeted duties on search services, to minimise illegal search results, will also reduce traffic to websites, including online forums, that host illegal material.

13th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what information her Department holds on the amount of R&D spend by the (a) Government, (b) higher education sector, (b) charity sector and (c) private sector in each region in each year since 1997.

The amount of R&D spend by sector and region is published annually by the Office for National Statistics.

The most recent release of these R&D spending breakdowns can be downloaded from: https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/governmentpublicsectorandtaxes/researchanddevelopmentexpenditure/bulletins/ukgrossdomesticexpenditureonresearchanddevelopment/2021

Andrew Griffith
Shadow Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
13th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, with reference to page 173 of the Levelling Up the United Kingdom White Paper, published the Government on 2 February 2022, what recent progress she has made on targeting at least 55% of domestic R&D funding outside the greater south east by 2024-25.

Following the establishment of DSIT, the department set the aim to invest, over the Spending Review period, a cumulative £1.3 billion more in R&D funding outside the Greater South East than in 2021-2022, superseding the referenced BEIS target.

DSIT and UKRI are working together to achieve this target, delivering the Innovation Accelerators programme to accelerate innovation clusters, investing £200 million in 12 projects across the UK through the Strength in Places Fund, by 2025, and in Autumn 2023 DSIT announced funding for a next-gen Exascale supercomputing facility in Edinburgh, and a new AI supercomputer for the national AI Research Resource in Bristol.

Andrew Griffith
Shadow Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
13th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, with reference to her Department's press release entitled AI Safety Institute releases new AI safety evaluations platform, published on 10 May 2024, what steps she is taking to encourage the integration of the Inspect platform in AI development projects in (a) healthcare, (b) transportation and (c) other sectors.

The AI Safety Institute has responsibility for developing and conducting evaluations on advanced AI systems, including assessing potentially harmful capabilities. As part of this, AISI has released an open-source evaluations platform called Inspect. Inspect is designed to help AI safety researchers build more standardised and reproduceable safety evaluations. Whilst Inspect will not support the development of new AI products and services directly, by open-sourcing the platform we are making it easier to test the safety of new advanced AI systems.

13th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what recent steps her Department has taken to help ensure the UK remains at the forefront of safe and regulated research and development for (a) artificial intelligence, (b) machine learning models and (c) deep learning algorithms.

In February, the Government’s response to the AI Regulation White Paper set out how it is delivering on our regulatory framework. The AI Safety Institute has built state-of-the-art safety testing capacity - and have just published headline results from a recent evaluation exercise. We have also open-sourced our AI safety testing platform (‘Inspect’), empowering safety researchers to conduct their own evaluations; published the International AI Safety Report on 17 May, promoting a shared understanding of AI’s potential impacts; and are co-hosting the next AI Safety Summit in Seoul this week, convening the international community to strengthen AI safety collaboration.

13th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, with which (a) people and (b) organisations the AI Safety Institute (i) consulted and (ii) collaborated in developing the Inspect toolset; and whether international AI safety bodies were (A) consulted and (B) involved in collaboration.

The AI Safety Institute is the first state-backed organisation focused on advancing AI safety for the public interest. Safety evaluations for frontier AI systems are often built in non-standardised formats, making it difficult for other organisations to reproduce and verify them. Inspect was developed by AI Safety Institute technical staff in response to this problem. Since making Inspect open-source, technical staff have briefed major AI labs, safety research organisations, academics and government experts on its potential use cases. This should enable closer collaboration across the AI Safety research ecosystem.

13th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what steps she is taking to monitor the potential impact of the Inspect platform on global AI safety standards.

The Inspect platform has the potential to unlock more seamless collaboration between AI safety researchers across the world by improving the standardisation and repeatability of safety evaluations. The AI Safety Institute will monitor the uptake of Inspect by drawing on usage data from GitHub, where the toolkit is available for anyone to access, and will continue to engage with AI safety researchers and developers to continue to improve the model. The upcoming AI Seoul Summit will be a valuable forum to deepen AISI’s global collaboration efforts on AI Safety standards.

10th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what the cost to the public purse was of Government investment into kidney disease research in 2022-23; and which public bodies provided that investment.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funds research into the detection, prevention, treatment and underpinning biology of kidney disease, allocated primarily through the Medical Research Council (MRC). Over the period of 2019/20 to 2022/23, MRC has invested nearly £30 million in funding and support for kidney disease research with £6.9 million in 2022/23.

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) also provides funding for kidney disease research. I refer the Hon. Member to the answer provided by my Rt. Hon. Friend the member for Pendle on 15 April 2024 (UIN 20328).

https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2024-03-25/20328

Andrew Griffith
Shadow Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
15th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, pursuant to the Answer of 14 May 2024 to Question 25493 on Life Sciences Council, for what reason the Life Sciences Council meeting of May 2024 was rescheduled; how long had the meeting been in place prior to rescheduling; and how much notice was given to the meeting participants of its rescheduling.

The May 2024 meeting of the Life Sciences Council (LSC) was rescheduled due to Ministerial diary pressures and has now been confirmed for June 2024.

The May meeting was confirmed three months prior to the meeting date. Five weeks’ notice was given to meeting participants of its rescheduling.

Andrew Griffith
Shadow Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
13th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, pursuant to the Answer of 19 April 2024 to Question 21525 on Telecommunications: Infrastructure, when she plans to meet with fixed-line operators to discuss concerns.

I met fixed-line operators on 18 April to discuss the concerns around the deployment of telegraph poles, and to seek commitments from industry. I was reassured by operators that they do not wish to undermine the public confidence in the Government's programme of infrastructure rollout and that they will consider how to improve their working practices around pole placement. I am positive that revisions to the Code of Practice can be delivered by industry, and I will meet with them again in June to understand what progress has been made.

Julia Lopez
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
10th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, whether she has had recent discussions with (a) the Mental Health Foundation, (b) the Antisemitism Policy Trust and (c) other civil society organisations on the regulation of online forums that allow the sharing of (i) detailed instructional information about methods of suicide and (ii) other (A) dangerous and (B) hateful content; and whether she plans further such discussions.

The Secretary of State and department officials have regular meetings and discussions with a wide range of stakeholders, including civil society groups, on online safety issues. During the development and passage of the Online Safety Act, the department and Ministers met with relevant civil society organisations to discuss issues such as suicide prevention and countering online hate and violence, to ensure the legislation took into account as broad a range of views as possible.

Following the Act gaining Royal Assent, there is ongoing engagement with relevant stakeholders as the legislation is implemented by Ofcom, the online safety regulator.

8th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, if she will make an assessment of the potential impact of malign actors imitating the interfaces of reputable sources on public trust in digital content.

It is a key priority of this government to preserve the integrity of our democratic processes and safeguard the public from interference by malign state and non-state actors, including through AI-enabled threats and manipulated media.

The Online Safety Act will tackle illegal disinformation and misinformation including state-sponsored disinformation via the Foreign Interference Offence, including deepfakes and other forms of manipulated media. This means that companies will have a legal duty to take preventative action to identify and minimise their users’ exposure to state-linked interference with UK society. Such content will need to be swiftly removed, requiring tangible action against state-backed attempts to undermine our democratic, political and legal processes.

In addition to our regulatory approach, the DSIT National Security Online Information Team (NSOIT) analyses attempts by foreign states to artificially manipulate the online information environment. The NSOIT works with social media platforms to support and encourage them to put in place policies that are fit for purpose, consistently enforced, and which respect freedom of expression.

8th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, whether she has had recent discussions with her Australian counterpart on the proposed Misinformation and Disinformation Bill in that country.

Ministers and officials from the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology meet regularly with counterparts from other countries to share our experience and expertise and to develop common approaches to online safety. We work closely with the Government of Australia and recently signed a memorandum of understanding setting out our intention to promote regulatory coordination and jointly deliver online safety and security policy to support our citizens.

The UK government has already delivered world-leading legislation via the Online Safety Act, which captures misinformation and disinformation where it constitutes illegal content or content which is harmful to children, and which forces the largest platforms to remove misinformation and disinformation prohibited under their Terms of Service.

8th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what steps his Department is taking to encourage investment in the UK artificial intelligence sector.

The UK’s AI market is valued at over $21 billion and is estimated to grow to over 1 trillion by 2035. Recently we have seen the largest investment ($1 billion) into a UK AI start-up (Wayve), with several AI companies opening their European headquarters here. Google and Microsoft have recently announced plans to invest $4.2 billion in the UK, demonstrating confidence in the UK’s approach to AI. To encourage further investment, we host the annual Global Investment Summit, we have tax incentives available for AI companies, and we are delivering £1.5bn of investment into compute, all of which will strengthen our position as an attractive place to invest.

8th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what assessment her Department has made of the potential impact of the UK Standard Essential Patents regulatory regime on the ability of SMEs to innovate on (a) artificial intelligence and (b) the Internet of Things.

The Government recognises the growing importance of Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) to the UK economy. Following a Call for Views, an SME questionnaire, and additional evidence-gathering, the Government published its key objectives on SEPs in February 2024. Those objectives, which are cross-sectoral, and so encompass our approach to Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things, include helping implementers, especially SMEs, to navigate and better understand the SEPs ecosystem. Delivering against those objectives, the Government is now focussed on the introduction of key non-regulatory interventions. These include the launch of a Resource Hub in May 2024, which would be a repository of tools, guidance and other material designed to help SMEs navigate the SEPs ecosystem.

14th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, if she will commission a report on the potential impact of AI on (a) democracy and (b) elections.

The Government takes the threat disinformation and AI digitally manipulated content poses very seriously.

We have already seen examples of AI-driven election interference across the globe targeting elected leaders and seeking to influence democratic debate. To mitigate these risks, as part of the Defending Democracy Taskforce, DSIT is working across government to ensure we are ready to respond to risks to the UK’s democratic processes.

14th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, with reference to the press notice entitled PM announces turning point in European security as UK set to increase defence spending to 2.5% by 2030, published on 23 April 2024, whether the 5% of the defence budget to be committed to research and development will be counted as science spend; and which Department will be responsible for that expenditure.

The Government is delivering a record £20 billion public investment in R&D this year, which will increase to £22 billion by the end of the next Parliament. £1.6 billion of this £2 billion increase will be allocated to higher defence R&D by 2028-29. The Ministry of Defence will be responsible for this expenditure and further details will be confirmed at the next Spending Review.

Andrew Griffith
Shadow Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
13th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, whether officials in her Department have provided Ministers with written advice on meeting the public sector equality duty in relation to the (a) UK Science and Technology Framework, (b) National AI Strategy and (c) Life Sciences Vision.

The department does not hold an Equality Impact Assessment for the Science and Technology Framework, as it is a high-level strategic Framework through which to deliver Government policy. Individual policies that will be delivered under the Framework have or will develop Equality Impact Assessments for their policies, in line with the Public Sector Equality Duty. As set out in the published Science and Technology Framework, many of the strands have equality considerations at the heart of what they are aiming to achieve.

Andrew Griffith
Shadow Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
13th May 2024
To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, when the most recent meeting of Life Sciences Council was held; and when the council is scheduled to meet next.

The last meeting of the Life Sciences Council took place on Tuesday 21 November 2023.

The date for the next meeting is currently being agreed with members.

Andrew Griffith
Shadow Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology