Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between George Freeman and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 25th January 2024

(2 months, 4 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call George Freeman.

George Freeman Portrait George Freeman (Mid Norfolk) (Con)
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May I take this opportunity to congratulate and thank the Secretary of State—[Interruption.] Sorry, Question 2.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between George Freeman and Lindsay Hoyle
Wednesday 14th June 2023

(10 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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George Freeman Portrait George Freeman
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I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman could not be more wrong; it is quite the opposite. The truth is that the Oxford-Cambridge-London triangle is golden for a reason: it is home to two of the world’s top three universities and five of top 15. Our central mission is to ensure that we grow an R&D economy all around the country that nurtures and invests in research, including a fantastic cluster in Yorkshire: the Yorkshire bioeconomy, advanced manufacturing in Sheffield, and Doncaster. We are investing in all that, but one does not create the Oxford-Cambridge triangle overnight; it requires us to invest with local leaders, as they are doing across the north-east in County Durham and Northumbria, in the innovative companies of tomorrow. This is a historic moment for the former coalfields.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Scottish National party spokesperson.

Carol Monaghan Portrait Carol Monaghan (Glasgow North West) (SNP)
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I declare an interest as the chair of the all-party group on photonics and quantum. The Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics at the University of Strathclyde has played a leading role in the industrial strategy challenge fund, collaborating with more companies and projects than any other organisation, and it has been praised as a key strength in the national quantum strategy. The centre is supported by the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise, but despite its being established at the UK Government’s invitation, the UK Government have provided no core funding. What discussion has the Minister had with Treasury colleagues on providing that core funding to a vital part of the quantum technology landscape?

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George Freeman Portrait George Freeman
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My right hon. and learned Friend makes an important point. One of the attractions of Horizon is that we get back most of what we put in, and it funds research collaborations across our system, but the negotiations are important. We have been out of the system for two years; we need to get a fair deal, as the Prime Minister has made clear, and to make sure that the UK is not paying for stuff that it has not been able to access over the past two and a half years. I am sure that His Majesty’s Treasury is well equipped to have that negotiation on our behalf.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.

Chi Onwurah Portrait Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central) (Lab)
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It is now 127 weeks of uncertainty, delay and broken promises since the Conservatives took us out of the world’s biggest and most prestigious science fund, Horizon Europe. Our scientists, universities and businesses have paid the price in lost jobs and investment, so will the Minister confirm or deny the reports that negotiations to rejoin Horizon have stalled because his Government are pushing for a reduced fee to reflect what they believe is a lasting reduction in grants won by UK scientists? If they have permanently damaged our success rate, should the Minister not be trying to fix that, rather than claim a discount?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between George Freeman and Lindsay Hoyle
Wednesday 3rd May 2023

(11 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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George Freeman Portrait George Freeman
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Yes, I absolutely agree. That is why we have put £1.9 billion into the Catapult network—our network for deep industrial collaboration with our universities. In the north-east, we have the offshore renewables Catapult in Blyth, the digital Catapult in Sunderland and the satellite applications Catapult in Durham. This is a deep investment in the north-east economy of tomorrow.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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We now come to the Scottish National party spokesperson.

Carol Monaghan Portrait Carol Monaghan (Glasgow North West) (SNP)
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One of the companies based in NETPark is Pragmatic Semiconductor, which is innovating chip production. It has indicated that it would consider moving its operations overseas if the UK fails to produce a semiconductor strategy that funds and supports chip production. We have been asking for this strategy for years now, so can the Minister assure the House not only that the strategy is imminent and will be published very shortly, but that it will properly fund and support companies such as Pragmatic?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between George Freeman and Lindsay Hoyle
Wednesday 15th March 2023

(1 year, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Vicky Ford Portrait Vicky Ford
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As a science geek, I love this new Department. The Chelmsford-based company Teledyne e2v is the world leader in space imaging. When the earthquake hit Turkey and Syria, its technology from way up there in space pinpointed the exact location of collapsed businesses, sent rescuers to the spot and saved lives. It also provides crucial monitoring of our planet’s air, oceans and volcanos via the Copernicus programme. The European Space Agency wants to continue to use e2v tech for the next generation of Copernicus satellites, so will the UK continue to participate in Copernicus post-2024 so that companies like e2v can continue to sell to—

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. The right hon. Lady, as much as she might be a science geek, ought to know that questions need to be shorter to give somebody else a chance. Put in for an urgent question. Come on in, Minister.

George Freeman Portrait George Freeman
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I pay tribute to Teledyne, which is a great company. That is why we have put £1.8 billion through the European Space Agency, so that little companies like that here in the UK can benefit. On Friday, I visited Space East. We support the cluster it is a part of. Following the Northern Ireland protocol agreement, the Windsor framework, we are actively discussing with the EU the membership of Horizon, Copernicus and Euratom, and funding earth observation programmes in any case.

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George Freeman Portrait George Freeman
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That is an excellent question. We have set out the shared prosperity fund, which is now fully deployed around the country. We have made the commitment to increase domestic research and development outside the greater south-east by 40% between now and 2030, and 50% of Government R&D in the old Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy was outside the greater south-east. I do not want to pre-empt the Chancellor, but this afternoon there will be announcements about how we support regional science and technology growth.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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How would you know that?

Michael Fabricant Portrait Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con)
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Nissan in Sunderland is one of the most productive plants in the whole Nissan network. What meetings has the Minister had with Nissan about its work?

George Freeman Portrait George Freeman
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Since arriving in this new portfolio I have not had any meetings with Nissan, but as a Department we are actively picking up the clean tech piece and the future energy technologies piece, and we are working with a range of companies, as well as with the Department for Business and Trade and the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.

Chi Onwurah Portrait Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central) (Lab)
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Across the country, our regions are home to thousands of brilliant science start-ups and spin-outs, but they are being hit by a Tory quadruple whammy: slashing R&D tax credits, leaving with them an average of £100,000 less to spend on research a year; a £120-million cliff-edge loss of European regional development funding; lack of access to capital—the UK has the lowest business investment in the G7; and continuing uncertainty over association with the £95-billion Horizon Europe, the biggest science fund in the world. Which of those barriers to growth for our innovative businesses will the Minister sort out today?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between George Freeman and Lindsay Hoyle
Tuesday 29th November 2022

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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George Freeman Portrait George Freeman
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The hon. Member is absolutely right that we are committed to growing that supply chain for the gigafactory revolution in the north-east, the midlands and all around the country. That is why we set out, in our critical minerals strategy, a coherent plan for making sure that the country has the whole supply chain, as well as those factories. I know that the Minister with responsibility for energy technology will be happy to talk to the hon. Member to make sure that the supply chain is working locally as well.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.

Transport

Debate between George Freeman and Lindsay Hoyle
Monday 10th February 2020

(4 years, 2 months ago)

Ministerial Corrections
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Feryal Clark Portrait Feryal Clark
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The Minister will be aware that transport accounts for a higher share of overall emissions than any other sector, so helping people to drive less and cycle more is crucial to tackling the climate crisis. We currently spent £7 per head on cycling infrastructure, but the Walking and Cycling Alliance recommends that we should be spending £17 per head on cycling infrastructure if we are serious about improving cycling. He will be aware that the Conservatives’ pledge to spend £350 million on cycling infrastructure actually reduced that spend to £1.18—[Interruption.]

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. I call the Minister.

George Freeman Portrait George Freeman
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As the new Minister for the decarbonisation of transport, I can say that the Government are absolutely committed to this, and we have a cycling Prime Minister who is committed to it. We have announced £350 million for cycling infrastructure. As I have said, we are completely committed over this Parliament to doubling the number of people cycling and walking.

[Official Report, 30 January 2020, Vol. 670, c. 917.]

Letter from George Freeman:

Errors have been identified in my responses to the hon. Member for Enfield North (Feryal Clark).

The correct responses should have been:

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between George Freeman and Lindsay Hoyle
Thursday 30th January 2020

(4 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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May I advise Members that their questions should be linked to the main question? If a certain area is specified, your questions are meant to be about that area. You cannot just have a free for all. Minister, if you can pick something out of that, please do so.

George Freeman Portrait George Freeman
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At a stretch, Mr Speaker, I think that Buckinghamshire touches the east-west corridor. I would be delighted to meet my hon. Friend to look at a place-based solution for sustainable housing and transport.

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Feryal Clark Portrait Feryal Clark
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The Minister will be aware that transport accounts for a higher share of overall emissions than any other sector, so helping people to drive less and cycle more is crucial to tackling the climate crisis. We currently spent £7 per head on cycling infrastructure, but the Walking and Cycling Alliance recommends that we should be spending £17 per head on cycling infrastructure if we are serious about improving cycling. He will be aware that the Conservatives’ pledge to spend £350 million on cycling infrastructure actually reduced that spend to £1.18—[Interruption.]

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. I call the Minister.

George Freeman Portrait George Freeman
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As the new Minister for the decarbonisation of transport, I can say that the Government are absolutely committed to this, and we have a cycling Prime Minister who is committed to it. We have announced £350 million for cycling infrastructure. As I have said, we are completely committed over this Parliament to doubling the number of people cycling and walking.[Official Report, 10 February 2020, Vol. 671, c. 8MC.]