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Government's Industrial Strategy could do more to reflect Brexit opportunities

12 April 2017

The Science and Technology Committee welcomes the Government's industrial strategy Green Paper, but it could give more room for discussing its links with Brexit. That means that the industrial strategy is not yet being fully configured to shape our Exit negotiations, but it will also have to be progressively updated to reflect the results of those negotiations as they proceed.

Chair's comments

Stephen Metcalfe MP, Chair of the Science and Technology Committee, said:

"We agreed our committee report on the same day that the Prime Minister triggered Article 50. Brexit will present opportunities and risks for our economy and for the science and innovation that supports it. A regulatory regime that is well-crafted and tuned to our post-Brexit international research and trading relationships—both with Europe and globally—will be essential.

The Government has an opportunity to do more to strengthen the links between the industrial strategy and Brexit as the Exit negotiations now get under way. That will be vitally important for keeping the Government's industrial strategy relevant and hooked-up to the opportunities presented by the evolving Brexit negotiations."

EU researchers working and studying in the UK

The Committee also repeat their call for the Government to give a firm commitment to EU researchers working and studying in the UK that they will continue to have a secure position here post-Brexit.

The Government told the Committee previously that it could not give such a unilateral commitment but that a reciprocal deal on this was a high priority, and the Prime Minister repeated that position in her Article 50 statement on 29 March.

Government's Autumn Statement pledge

The Committee welcomes the Government's Autumn Statement pledge of an additional £2 billion a year of science and research funding which, the Committee says, will be a valuable contribution to maintaining the country's world-leading science status and help maintain the UK as an attractive location for research.

Stephen Metcalfe MP, Chair of the Science and Technology Committee, said:

"The Government has significantly increased science funding, which will put us in a better position post-Brexit to attract skilled researchers and collaborative science projects. I want the Government to see that as an initial investment towards meeting a target—for the UK to be spending 3% of GDP on R&D—that our Committee has repeatedly pushed for."

"While it is too soon to know whether Brexit will end up bringing less or more inward science investment to the UK in the long-term, the Government should be ready to make good any net shortfall in the short-term with further funding for science."

STEM skills

The Committee also calls for the Government to complement its raft of initiatives to increase STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) skills, including the new further education T' level, by scaling-up existing local STEM-promoting initiatives.

Further education reforms aimed at raising STEM skills should also reflect not just what employers need but also evidence on what initiatives are most effective in increasing and sustaining young people's interest in science and what really influences their study subject choices.

Further information

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