Chi Onwurah Portrait Chi Onwurah
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It is a pleasure and honour to follow the right hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May). I am certain that the current Conservative Government could benefit enormously from her championing and promotion of an industrial strategy, and I hope that they are listening.

I thank all those who worked so hard to improve this Bill in Committee, particularly my hon. Friends the Members for Cambridge (Daniel Zeichner), for Brent Central (Dawn Butler), for Luton North (Sarah Owen) and for Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough (Gill Furniss), as well as the Clerks and House of Commons staff for their excellent support.

It is vital that we get the Advanced Research and Invention Agency right. Today we will hear many Members—although not as many as we had thought—raise a wide range of important issues such as climate change, regional and national economic development, international development and democratic accountability, but at the heart of this debate is science, which now plays such a critical part in all our lives.

The UK has a proud tradition in science, engineering, innovation, research and development. We are renowned across the world for scientific breakthroughs and discoveries that pushed humanity forwards. From the discovery of penicillin to the invention of Stephenson’s Rocket in my constituency of Newcastle upon Tyne Central, again and again UK scientists pushed forward the boundaries of knowledge, shrinking the vast expanse of ignorance, which, as this pandemic has shown, may threaten humanity’s very existence.

Stephen Doughty Portrait Stephen Doughty (Cardiff South and Penarth) (Lab/Co-op)
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My hon. Friend refers to some of that world-beating research. I chair the all-party parliamentary group on HIV and AIDS. There has been a great degree of concern among some of our global health all-party groups about the cuts that were and are coming to global health research. I totally support the amendments that we have tabled on climate change; there is also a critical link between climate change and global health. Does my hon. Friend agree that we absolutely need to continue that world-beating research, because it has so many benefits for health not just globally, but in this country too?

Chi Onwurah Portrait Chi Onwurah
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I pay tribute to the work of my hon. Friend’s all-party parliamentary group, with which I am quite familiar. I wholeheartedly agree with him about the importance of that research, and about the link between that important research and this agency. I will develop that point further in a few moments.

As hon. Members have indicated, UK science is not only inspiring; it can also be groundbreaking and is a key economic driver. Our university research base alone contributes £95 billion to the economy, supporting nearly 1 million jobs in scientific institutes, charities and businesses of all sizes. Research by Oxford Economics commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy found that each £1 of public research and development—such as the money to be spent on ARIA—stimulates between £1.96 and £2.34 of private research and development, and we cannot recover from the pandemic without inspiring and initiating more private sector investment in research and development. Together, private and public sector research can help to address the key challenges facing humanity—from climate change to inequality, from pandemics to productivity.

That brings us very neatly to the broken promises of this Conservative Government on overseas development aid, as raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff South and Penarth (Stephen Doughty), and how that betrays the poorest among us and the critical challenges faced by us all. With over £4.1 billion slashed from overseas development aid, the £120 million cut from science and research programmes may appear minor, but that has already had a devastating impact on science here and abroad. Cutting funding from global challenges research fund hubs, for example, threatens researchers at Newcastle University in my constituency, as well as scientists in developing countries working together on water security. These cuts are a consequence of the Government’s decision to scrap the legally binding 0.7% of GDP target for overseas development aid.

New clause 4 tabled by the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell), which sought to reverse that decision, has not been selected for debate, though a debate on the issue may follow; certainly, the debate is not going away. Particularly in relation to ARIA and the amendments before us, it is really important to emphasise that for UK science, research and credibility, these cuts have a significant impact. The UK has been the only G7 country to cut aid in the middle of a pandemic, and in so doing it has united hon. and right hon. Members across this House who are horrified by the harm done—harm such as, in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, in Yemen, slashing aid by 60% without conducting an impact assessment, and harm such as cutting bilateral funding on water, sanitation and hygiene—