Science and Innovation

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th December 2016.

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Photo of Adam Afriyie Adam Afriyie Chair, Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology 12:00 am, 13th December 2016

What steps his Department is taking to promote science and innovation.

Photo of Jo Johnson Jo Johnson Minister of State (Department for Education) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Education)

This Government are strongly committed to science and innovation. We protected the science budget at the spending review in 2015. In the last autumn statement, a few days ago, we committed to spending a further £2 billion a year by the end of this Parliament. The creation of UK Research and Innovation, through the passage of the Higher Education and Research Bill, will increase the value and impact of our investments in science and innovation in the years ahead. [Official Report, 16 December 2016, Vol. 618, c. 7-8MC.]

Photo of Adam Afriyie Adam Afriyie Chair, Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology

I thank the Minister for that answer. It has certainly been a good time for science and innovation in Britain. It has also been a good year for the UK space sector, with Major Tim Peake’s historic visit to the international space station and a new spaceport here in the UK. It certainly strikes me that the next big challenge will be the successful delivery of the ExoMars programme, particularly given some of the rumours that have been going around. Will the Minister update the House on any progress made at the European Space Agency summit recently?

Photo of Jo Johnson Jo Johnson Minister of State (Department for Education) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Education)

Yes, I am happy to provide a brief update. My hon. Friend is an aficionado of space policy and former chair of the parliamentary space committee, so he will be delighted to know that we had an excellent outcome at the European Space Agency’s Council of Ministers. We committed a further €1.44 billion, which has secured the future of the ExoMars programme, among many other things.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

I do not want to ruin the Minister’s Christmas celebrations, which are imminent, but if he looks at the deplorable investment in research and development—the figures that came out only this week—does he not see that he needs to wake up and smell the coffee? The fact of the matter is that research and innovation will be deeply damaged by leaving the European Union. He should ask the universities what they think.

Photo of Jo Johnson Jo Johnson Minister of State (Department for Education) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Education)

I know that the hon. Gentleman will welcome the Government’s commitment to research and development, which was underscored in the autumn statement with a further £2 billion by the end of this Parliament—perhaps the biggest single increase in R and D expenditure by any Government in the memory of anyone in this Parliament.

Photo of Alan Mak Alan Mak Conservative, Havant

Innovate UK plays a key role in promoting science and technology by giving grants to entrepreneurs. Will the Minister continue to support it as new fourth industrial revolution businesses come forward to seek new funding to develop the next generation of science and technology businesses?

Photo of Jo Johnson Jo Johnson Minister of State (Department for Education) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Education)

Yes, I am happy to provide that assurance. Innovate UK, our innovation agency, will be at the heart of our industrial strategy, and the autumn statement will provide it with the resources it needs to continue to do its job of supporting small businesses in innovation.

Photo of Liz Saville-Roberts Liz Saville-Roberts Shadow PC Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Education), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Health), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Women and Equalities) , Shadow PC Spokesperson (Energy & Natural Resources), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Local Government)

Tidal Lagoon Power’s report, “Ours to own”, anticipates that tidal lagoons could bring more than £70 billion to the UK industry. Swansea bay tidal lagoon is key to unlocking that innovative potential, which has great opportunities for Cardiff and the north Wales coast, as well. I appreciate that the Minister will have concerns about costs to customers, but will he commit to weighing up all aspects of the energy trilemma in his response to the Hendry report?

Photo of James Davies James Davies Conservative, Vale of Clwyd

Chemical and pharmaceutical businesses are an important feature of the northern powerhouse and emerging enterprises in the sector are often rooted in university research labs. What support and funding can the UK Government commit to encourage continued research collaboration across Europe—and indeed the rest of the world—to increase our innovative business base post-Brexit?

Photo of Alan Brown Alan Brown Scottish National Party, Kilmarnock and Loudoun

The Government talk about promoting science and innovation, but this Government pulled the plug on funding for carbon capture and storage. How much of the additional £4.7 billion R and D money announced in the autumn statement will be allocated for carbon capture and storage?

Photo of Derek Twigg Derek Twigg Chair, Statutory Instruments (Joint Committee), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Select Committee)

The Catalyst science discovery centre in my constituency does an excellent job of promoting careers in science and engineering for young people. Will the Minister come and visit it? It struggles to keep going financially, but it does an absolutely unbelievably good job.