Skip to main content

Medical Research and Development (Israel)

Volume 623: debated on Thursday 23 March 2017

1. What steps he is taking to strengthen the trade relationship in medical research and development with Israel. (909448)

As we begin our questions today, it is appropriate that we recommit ourselves to the values that this Parliament represents. Those who carry out such wicked and depraved actions as we saw yesterday can never triumph in our country. We must ensure that it is not violence, hatred or division, but decency, goodness and tolerance that prevail in our country.

The United Kingdom and Israel have a strong and important trading relationship, with nearly £5 billion in bilateral trade last year. We will continue to liaise closely on strengthening our trading links, including in important sectors such as medical research and development. The Life Sciences Organisation within the Department for International Trade currently supports companies wishing to export to Israel from the earliest stages of research and development through to manufactured medicines and medical devices.

I join you, Mr Speaker, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State in expressing sincere condolences to the victims of the terrible atrocity yesterday, and particularly to the family of PC Keith Palmer, who died so that we can carry out our democratic duties.

I thank my right hon. Friend for his answer. Companies in the Israeli economy are responsible for more than 100 million prescription drugs consumed in this country every year, and one has recently launched the ReWalk device, whereby people are encouraged to develop. Will he set out what further plans he has to ensure that we benefit from Israel’s pharmaceutical industry?

UK industry will have a strong and important trading relationship with Israel, and the Department for International Trade supports and will continue to support life science companies from Israel that invest in the UK, and those seeking to export from the UK. The companies range from large multinationals to small and medium-sized companies such as the one my hon. Friend mentioned. We support all stages, whether that is by facilitating investment in research and development or setting up commercial operations, such as manufacturing, to export from the UK.

I, too, express my condolences to the families of all those who died, and I wish the very best for those who were injured.

One notable thing about Israel’s trade relationship with the EU is that Israel is part of Horizon 2020. Has the Secretary of State considered whether, after Brexit, we should stay in Horizon 2020 and the European Medicines Agency?

The latter decision will be part of our negotiations. We have made it clear that our intention is to roll over in full the trading agreements that the EU currently has with third countries. That will include Israel, on the basis of the current negotiations.

In his trade discussions with the Israeli Government, will the Secretary of State convey the House’s sympathy for and solidarity with Israel, which has so often suffered the same kind of terrorist attack as we suffered in this House yesterday?

What we have in common with all terrorist attacks is the fact that such acts of savagery against the innocent can never be justified or excused by creed or by politics.

May I echo the opening words of the Secretary of State and indeed the condolences that have been expressed for the police officer and the families of others affected by this tragedy?

The world-leading Institute of Cancer Research in the London borough of Sutton already does a lot of work with Israel. Can the Secretary of State confirm whether the post-grads who work at the institute, a third of whom come from the European Union, will be able to carry on working in those projects for years to come?

The Government have already made it clear that the United Kingdom wishes to see an early resolution on the status of EU citizens. Those who collaborate with our research institutes do so on the basis of the quality of the research, and I am sure that that will continue.