Safeguarding Research Collaborations and Scientific Excellence

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 7th November 2018.

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Photo of Oliver Mundell Oliver Mundell Conservative

I go back to what I said at the start of my speech. Clearly, I adopt a much more positive approach. We have to work towards the system that we want to see. We must take time to reflect on all the comments that have come in on the immigration system from the Confederation of British Industry and NFU Scotland because the issues do not exist in isolation.

I see that the cabinet secretary looks confused. My point is that immigration in the university sector is not an issue that exists in isolation and must be considered as part of a balanced package of measures that delivers not just for Scotland but for the whole of the UK. Rather than seek to make political hay out of slow progress—at times, frustratingly slow progress—it would be better if the cabinet secretary recognised that members on the Conservative benches are working hard to achieve the same goal.

That takes me nicely to my concluding remarks. At this time of national importance, I simply ask Scottish National Party members to consider their motivations and to ask themselves whether debates on important issues such as this one are brought to the Parliament to highlight those issues or to further the SNP’s own interests. Given the challenges that lie ahead and the significance of our international research collaborations and our reputation for scientific excellence, surely the national interest must come first. If that is the case, this is the time to work together, putting politics aside, and to back the Prime Minister in securing the certainty that a deal with the EU would offer.

I move amendment S5M-14638.1, to leave out from “notes with concern” to “European research programmes” and insert:

“recognises the very significant economic, social and cultural value of research co-operation across the UK and with the international community, and the benefits of knowledge exchange; welcomes the assurance of UK Government research funding up to 2020; supports the UK Government’s plans to include science and innovation among future co-operative accords with the EU; urges the UK Government to ensure that the visa system is structured to attract students and staff of the highest calibre to work in UK universities and research centres”.