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Scientific, Cultural and Educational Programmes

Volume 653: debated on Thursday 24 January 2019

4. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the provision of scientific, cultural and educational programmes in the UK’s future relationship with the EU. (908748)

19. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the provision of scientific, cultural and educational programmes in the UK’s future relationship with the EU. (908768)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has regular conversations with Cabinet colleagues on all aspects of EU exit, and in particular science, culture and education. The best way for our universities and researchers to continue to benefit from the partnerships we have built with European counterparts is a negotiated deal. The political declaration makes it clear that the UK and the EU intend fully to establish terms and conditions regarding UK participation in EU programmes.

When Southend-on-Sea becomes a city, I am keen that we are seen as a centre of excellence for learning. Will my hon. Friend tell the House how the Government intend to replace the funding for the Erasmus+ programme, which is increasingly popular with university students, if we leave the European Union on 29 March without some sort of agreement?

Of course, we are seeking to reach an agreement with the EU so that UK organisations can continue to participate in Erasmus. We are committed to that. As my hon. Friend will know, a number of countries participate in the Erasmus scheme that have never been members of the EU—I believe Israel is one such country—so there is no reason why we cannot have a similar arrangement.

Organisations such as Sadler’s Wells and the Royal Ballet and many other cultural organisations recruit people from around the world, and some of them come from Europe. What protections will there be for people such as the excellent dancers we need to come to this country to promote tourism?

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend, who is a cultural ambassador for this country, for the great work she does in promoting the performing arts. It is absolutely the intention of Her Majesty’s Government to support the great range of talent that comes into this country, and there is no reason why that should be in any way impaired as we go forward.

The hon. Gentleman knows all about science, culture and education because he represents Cambridge.

Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. The political declaration makes it very clear that the Government want to maintain a close involvement with EU programmes in future. Will the Minister have a word with the Secretary of State, who is a fellow east of England MP, to see if he shares my disappointment at the reports that the long-established and well-regarded East of England Brussels office faces possible closure? Will he join me in making representations to the East of England Local Government Association?

I would of course be very happy to undertake conversations with my right hon. Friend on the hon. Gentleman’s behalf, and I suggest that perhaps the hon. Gentleman takes part in them, too. The principal issue is obviously about scientists; offices in themselves are not what this relationship is about. As a fellow graduate of Cambridge University, I applaud his efforts in representing the town and the university in this place.

Diolch, Mr Speaker. In addition to ensuring participation in the European Union framework programme for research and innovation, it is just as crucial that immigration policy facilitates and, indeed, supports research conducted by teams consisting of members from an array of European countries. What discussions have there been with the Home Office to ensure that UK immigration policy aligns with the Government’s priorities in this regard?

We have a labour mobility framework that especially ensures that highly skilled people are able to come into this country. There is a lot of doom-mongering and fear-mongering on this subject. It is absolutely the intention to keep an open policy for highly skilled, highly talented people to come into this country and contribute enormously to our society.