Brexit, Science and Innovation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:05 pm on 6th September 2018.

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Photo of Norman Lamb Norman Lamb Chair, Science and Technology Committee (Commons) 1:05 pm, 6th September 2018

I beg to move,

That this House
takes note of the Science and Technology Committee’s Second Report on Brexit, science and innovation, HC 705, and the Government Response, Fifth Special Report, HC 1008;
further takes note of the Science and Technology Committee’s Eighth Report on An immigration system that works for science and innovation, HC 1061;
believes that the Government should seek to agree with the EU the far-reaching science and innovation accord proposed by the Prime Minister in her Mansion House speech and in The Future Relationship Between the United Kingdom and the European Union White Paper, Cm 9593;
calls for this accord to be negotiated separately from wider EU-UK trade negotiations;
and further calls for the science and innovation accord to include details of an immigration system that works for the science and innovation community.

It’s me again, I’m afraid. The motion relates to two recent reports from the Science and Technology Committee, and I again thank the members of the Committee for their work on the inquiries. I also thank the Liaison Committee for recommending to the Backbench Business Committee that the House should have the opportunity to hold this debate today. The House has spent many hours discussing the implications of leaving the European Union for the big political issues, such as trade, regulation and freedom of movement, often in ways that are deeply divisive between those who support remaining in the EU and those who believe we should be leaving, which was the decision in the referendum. Today, however, we have an opportunity to explore the effects of Brexit on something which, at least in theory, is less politically contentious for many but just as important to get right.

No one is rushing to the barricades to demand the end to scientific collaboration, about which we should all be able to agree. I am sure that Members across the House will want to join me in underlining the absolute importance of science and innovation to the economy, but I hope that today will also help to generate some political momentum to make it certain that science does not become a casualty of the Brexit process, particularly given the concerns that no deal could emerge from the negotiations.