The Prime Minister’s speech set out the negotiating priority to ensure that the UK is one of the best places in the world for science and innovation. As part of the negotiations, the Government will discuss with EU member states how best to continue co-operation in the field of clinical trials. In respect of the hon. Gentleman’s question, the UK successfully applied sustained pressure to reform the current directive in the best interests of patients and business. We will follow the EU rules until the point of exit, and those new rules will come into effect shortly. The great repeal Bill will convert EU law as it applies, including EU regulations, into domestic law on exit. If needs be, we can reform the regulations after that.
Given the harmful effect of EU directives on clinical trials and science in the UK, when the time comes to write our own rules will the Secretary of State undertake to listen to some of the clinical practitioners and scientists, not just the big corporate vested interests whose business model depends on having an army of lobbyists in Brussels?
The short answer is absolutely. The hon. Gentleman is right that the original clinical trials directive was a very poorly drafted piece of EU regulation that has certainly increased the burden of undertaking such trials and, if I remember correctly from my own constituency, particularly small trials. [Interruption.] Yes, and those are exactly the sort of people he is talking about. Their views will be taken very seriously in the new regime after leaving.
Since the referendum both the US biotech company Alnylam and GlaxoSmithKline have announced that they are making very substantial investments in the UK. Does my right hon. Friend agree that this demonstrates that, even after we leave the European Union, we will still be a very competitive place for biotech companies to do business?
My hon. Friend is exactly right. I recently went to see some of those biotech companies in Cambridge, and one of the problems with people who talk the country down and talk these industries down is that they underestimate the extent to which pharmaceuticals, life sciences, finance and software are fantastically powerful British industries in which we already have a huge critical mass of talent, which will continue into the future.