The Councils of UKRI

Part of Higher Education and Research Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:45 am on 18th October 2016.

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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) 10:45 am, 18th October 2016

Again, I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving me the opportunity to reassure the Committee and to explain in more detail how the powers would be exercised. They would allow the Government to react to the evolving needs of the research landscape and to keep the UK at the forefront of global research and innovation, while ensuring that the science and humanities councils cannot be altered without legislative scrutiny and the agreement of Parliament.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned the 23 June referendum. That is an event and process that has encouraged the science and research community to understand that UKRI can add value to the community in bringing coherence and strength to the voice of science and research in this country in the months and years ahead. I would like to highlight the evidence that Dame Julia Slingo, the chief scientist at the Met Office, gave to the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology in September. She said:

“So the creation of UKRI is a real opportunity at this moment when we are thinking about where we are going on Brexit.”

Her views reflect an emerging, indeed strengthening, consensus across the learned societies and science community in general that UKRI is something that they want to get behind.