Science and Technology Framework

Nigel Evans Excerpts
Tuesday 7th March 2023

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Michelle Donelan Portrait Michelle Donelan
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I thank the hon. Member for her comments, but in reality it is this Government who are here today delivering jobs and a better future for the British public. As I said in my statement, we are focusing not only on actions today, but on a strategic long-term approach to ensure that we are a science and technology superpower by 2030.

The hon. Member said that there are more technologies than the five that we have identified. Of course there are. The ones we have identified are the key strategic ones, but there is a great deal of work that my ministerial team and I are doing. On funding, we are investing £20 billion by 2024-25, as we have said on the record. The £370 million that we announced yesterday is a new spending commitment that we had not previously outlined. On geographical spread across the nation, we have made a strategic commitment to ensure that 55% of the spend is outside the south-east.

The framework that we have set out is just one part of the work that my Department is doing. Let us not forget that it was established just four weeks ago. In one month, we have not only published a comprehensive framework plan, but got on with key actions to drive the agenda forward. This Government mean business. We have worked very hard in the past few weeks to talk collaboratively with industry and with researchers.

I am not going to take the Opposition’s word about what is wrong. Let us have a look at what experts and people on the ground have to say. Professor Sir Ian Boyd, president of the Royal Society of Biology, says:

“Science and technology is already a central plank of modern life. Putting this centre-stage in government strategy is essential and welcome.”

Professor Julia Black, president of the British Academy, says:

“The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology’s announcements reaffirm the Government’s ambition to put the UK at the forefront of global research, development and innovation”.

I could go on all day long, because our announcement has been wholeheartedly welcomed.

The hon. Member asked about Horizon. This is an announcement about our framework—that is what is on the annunciator screen—and not about Horizon, but I will answer her question anyway. We have not changed our position on Horizon. For the past two years, we have tried to associate. It was in the original deal, and we welcome the comments from the EU. Of course, terms would have to be favourable for the UK—we have lost two years—and we would have to ensure value for money for the taxpayer. We cannot wait around for another two years, because we want to put our researchers first. That is why we have done the responsible and right thing and worked up a plan B, which stands ready should we need it, but our position on Horizon has not changed. We look forward to continuing our conversations with the EU.

Nigel Evans Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Nigel Evans)
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I call the Chair of the Select Committee on Science and Technology.

Greg Clark Portrait Greg Clark (Tunbridge Wells) (Con)
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It is a great pleasure to welcome my right hon. Friend and her ministerial team to their positions. It has been some years since a Science Minister stood at the Dispatch Box as a Secretary of State; I hope that she and her team will have a very successful tenure. I warmly welcome the priority that the Government are giving to science and technology at one of the most exciting times for it since the first industrial revolution. My Committee looks forward to welcoming her to discuss her work and the framework.

I have a few specific questions. First, can my right hon. Friend commit that the £1.65 billion from the science budget that was returned to the Treasury last week as part of the supplementary estimates will go back to the science budget and has not been lost? Secondly, I am interested in what she says about Horizon. Will she say when the negotiations will begin? She rightly says that they cannot go on forever, but how long will she allow them to continue before plan B is enacted? Finally, what mechanisms are in place to ensure that in areas such as battery technology, which is a responsibility of her Department, of the Department for Business and Trade and of the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, there is a united and coherent approach across Government so that investors know what the policy is and who to deal with?

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Michelle Donelan Portrait Michelle Donelan
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The framework that we set up yesterday is the strategic overarching plan for how we get to be a science and technology superpower. Of course, we are working on many other strands to ensure that we can drive forward those policies to achieve those goals, including the life science vision.

Nigel Evans Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Nigel Evans)
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You have had some good exercise, Mr Fell.

Simon Fell Portrait Simon Fell (Barrow and Furness) (Con)
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Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker—last but not least.

I warmly welcome this statement, and I welcome the Secretary of State and her fantastic team to the Front Bench. This statement is great news for science, and the £370 million deposit towards turning the UK into a science superpower is welcome. My constituents will be glad to hear it, as we are trying to get the Ulverston life sciences cluster off the ground. Will the Secretary of State agree to meet me and the GSK taskforce to see how it can best engage with the strategy and take it forward?

Michelle Donelan Portrait Michelle Donelan
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I would be delighted to meet my hon. Friend to discuss what is happening in his constituency. I think it will improve his constituents’ lives with more jobs and better paid jobs, but it will also improve the lives of all our constituents. This is how we drive forward our economy, how we grow our economy, how we create better paid jobs, how we improve our healthcare and how we tackle climate change. My constituents are asking me for all those things, and it is this Government who are delivering this proactive, outcomes-based approach.

Nigel Evans Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Nigel Evans)
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I thank the Secretary of State for her statement, and for responding to questions for more than three quarters of an hour.

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Secretary Suella Braverman, supported by the Prime Minister, Secretary Dominic Raab, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Secretary James Cleverly, Secretary Gillian Keegan and Robert Jenrick, presented a Bill to make provision for and in connection with the removal from the United Kingdom of persons who have entered or arrived in breach of immigration control; to make provision about detention for immigration purposes; to make provision about unaccompanied children; to make provision about victims of slavery or human trafficking; to make provision about leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom; to make provision about citizenship; to make provision about the inadmissibility of certain protection and certain human rights claims relating to immigration; to make provision about the maximum number of persons entering the United Kingdom annually using safe and legal routes; and for connected purposes.

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