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Research and Development

Volume 601: debated on Tuesday 27 October 2015

The Government have made a long-term science capital commitment, investing £6.9 billion in the United Kingdom‘s research infrastructure up to 2021. In the last Parliament we maintained the ring-fenced science budget, in cash terms, at £4.6 billion per annum, and in 2013 we provided £1.75 billion of support in research and development tax credits. Further decisions on support for research will be made as part of the forthcoming spending review.

The Government’s record on R and D does not match their rhetoric. Only yesterday, some of the leading companies in the United Kingdom expressed the fear that the Government’s reported plan to replace R and D tax credits with interest-paying loans could hit R and D investment and send it abroad. Will the Minister reassure Parliament and business that R and D grants will continue to be made available to help our businesses to innovate and remain competitive?

Future plans for R and D tax credits are, of course, a matter for the spending review, but I disagree with what the hon. Gentleman has said in the light of what we have done in the last five years. According to a recent evaluation by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, each £1 of tax forgone on R and D tax credits stimulates between £1.53 and £2.35 of additional R and D investment. During the last Parliament, the Government increased the generosity of the R and D tax credit scheme for small and medium-sized enterprises from 175% to 270%.

Both the Chancellor and the Prime Minister recently visited the Manufacturing Technology Centre, which is in my constituency. Does the Minister agree that such collaborations between the academic world and manufacturing industry show the way forward?

I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend, particularly when it comes to innovation. The Global Innovation Index ranked the United Kingdom second in the world in 2013. We have been ranked first for the reach, impact and well-roundedness of our research and first for our research productivity, which is 3.87 times the world average.