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House of Commons Hansard
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02 November 2017
Volume 630

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14. What representations his Department has received from UK universities on negotiation priorities for the UK leaving the EU. [901566]

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As we leave the EU, the Government are committed to ensuring that Britain remains a global hub for education, science and research. Our future partnership paper on collaboration in science and innovation sets out our aim for an ambitious agreement with the EU that ensures that the valuable research links between us continue to grow.

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The Prime Minister rightly established in her Lancaster House speech the Government’s priorities for science and technology, particularly as the fourth industrial revolution accelerates. Will the Minister update the House on the Government’s plans for future collaboration with the EU in that area?

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My hon. Friend, who is a champion in this House for the fourth industrial revolution, is absolutely right. The Government published a paper that set out that the UK will look to build on its unique relationship with the EU and establish an agreement on science and innovation to ensure that valuable research links between us continue to grow. That will deliver shared UK and European prosperity, and social, environmental and health benefits. The UK would like to work with the EU on designing the agreement and would welcome a full and open discussion about all options for continued collaboration.

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The United Kingdom has a world-beating universities and research sector, and Newcastle University, which is in my constituency, and its world-leading research are an excellent example of that. The university has repeatedly emphasised to me that successful research and innovation depends on collaboration with people from all disciplines who come to the UK. What will the Minister do to ensure that that is possible and to reassure researchers who are here in the UK now that they will continue to be able to work?

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The hon. Lady is absolutely right. We have been clear that we do not see the referendum result as a vote for the UK to pull up the drawbridge. We will remain an open, tolerant country that recognises the valuable contribution that people coming to our country can make. We will welcome those with the skills, drive and experience to make our nation better still. Our science and research paper and our citizens’ rights paper set that out, and it is important that we continue to send that message.