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UK-Israel Medical Research and Development

Volume 661: debated on Thursday 6 June 2019

4. What steps he is taking to strengthen UK trading relations with Israel in medical research and development; and if he will make a statement. (911190)

Before I answer that question, on the 75th anniversary of D-day it is worth our reflecting that we in this House are able to ask and answer questions in a free and democratic Parliament because of the sacrifices made by those who went before us.

Our dedicated team at the UK embassy in Tel Aviv actively promotes UK-Israel trade, and there is extensive collaboration on medical research between the UK and Israel. The UK-Israel Tech Hub, which is based at the embassy, helps to create tech and innovation partnerships across several sectors, including healthcare.

That is very good to hear. My right hon. Friend knows the state of Israeli technology—for example, all our chips, including the Intel fifth, sixth and seventh core chips, are developed in Israel for Intel in America. Magen David Adom, the equivalent of the Israeli Red Cross, has an app that provides live streaming, medical history and the location of people who use it, and that sort of innovation could be of great benefit to the UK. When we leave the European Union, what will be the advantages of doing business with Israel for both our nations?

There are huge advantages to our collaboration in or outside the European Union. To enable us to shine a light on the excellence that my hon. Friend mentions, on my recent trip to Israel I agreed with Prime Minister Netanyahu that we will jointly sponsor a Government high-level trade and investment conference that will enable us to show the world the best of what both countries have to offer in the sector mentioned by my hon. Friend.

I congratulate the Secretary of State on mentioning D-day. My father served in the Royal Engineers throughout the war, and my thoughts are of him and our brave troops today.

The Secretary of State is right to say that global trade can take place only in conditions of peace. Will he back the small group of MPs from across the House who are trying to create close relationships between university research in the UK and university research in Israel?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his kind words. He is right—where we are able to take advantage of the innovation coming out of universities, we should make every attempt to do so. One reason that international investors give for putting money into the United Kingdom is the access to high-quality innovation that comes from the collaboration between industry and academia. Where we can take full advantage of that, including with bilateral relations elsewhere, we should do so.

The Secretary of State has already mentioned the UK-Israel Tech Hub, which is the first of its kind and has already generated business of £85 million. How does he see that developing over the coming years?

I see it going from strength to strength, and as greater investment goes into both economies we will be able to scale up the innovation and creativity that is clearly shown in the tech sector. That will be of benefit not only to our two countries, but to the wider global economy.

I wish to associate myself fully with the Secretary of State’s remarks and pay tribute to the sacrifices of the fallen.

What assessment has the Secretary of State made of Israel’s participation in the agreement on pan-Euro-Mediterranean cumulation on the trade in medical products between the UK and the EU? What progress have the Government made in replicating other agreements between the EU and Israel, including the 2013 EU-Israel agreement on conformity assessment and acceptance of industrial products?

As the hon. Lady is aware, we reached a continuity agreement with Israel on 19 February, which will come into effect as we leave the European Union. The conformity assessment element of that is very important because of the number of generic prescriptions that the NHS takes advantage of that are produced by Israeli pharmaceutical companies. We will want to see as much continuity in all those arrangements as possible.