Hydrogen Energy

Debate between Viscount Stansgate and Lord Callanan
Tuesday 14th May 2024

(2 months, 1 week ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I hesitate to disagree with the noble Lord, but I think I will on this occasion. I would be interested to know where on the continent hydrogen is being rolled out, as he referred to. I am aware of one or two experimental schemes, but no widescale rollout. There is no question that it could work technically—indeed, two homes have been built in Gateshead as an experiment by Northern Gas Networks that currently are heated by hydrogen boilers and hydrogen hobs. Technically, it can work, although there are safety implications that we need to look at. The question we need to be answering is whether this is an efficient use of the country’s energy resources.

Viscount Stansgate Portrait Viscount Stansgate (Lab)
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My Lords, the Minister says that hydrogen might play only a minor role, but does he accept that, in the future, this country is possibly going to need a strategic reserve of energy to take account of the times when the wind does not blow and the sun does not shine, and that hydrogen might play an important part in the long-duration energy storage that we are going to need in this country? It could be a vital part of the country’s strategic energy future.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The noble Viscount is absolutely right. I am a huge advocate of hydrogen precisely because of its role in long-term energy storage in the circumstances that he outlined—when the wind does not blow and the sun does not shine. We were debating whether it has a viable use in home heating. I submit that electrification and heat pumps are a much more efficient way of heating homes.

Civil Nuclear Road Map

Debate between Viscount Stansgate and Lord Callanan
Monday 15th January 2024

(6 months, 1 week ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I am happy to reassure my noble friend. We have given Rolls-Royce £210 million to help in the development of the next phase of small modular reactors. There are a number of competing technologies. Great British Nuclear will be making progress on selecting the most appropriate technology in the months and years to come.

Viscount Stansgate Portrait Viscount Stansgate (Lab)
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My Lords, on page 28 of the road map document, reference is made to the fact that additional sites will be needed beyond those already designated. In the light of what the Minister has just said about the process of consultation, when does he expect the Government to be in a position to make announcements as to which sites have been chosen?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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There is quite a process to go through before then. We announced today the consultation on the national policy statement on siting, and we look forward to seeking the views of various interested parties and communities. There will be a further consultation once we have produced the national policy statement. There are a few steps to go through yet, but we want the process to be as transparent as possible, involving communities, residents and companies looking to take this work forward.

Horizon Europe: UK Participation

Debate between Viscount Stansgate and Lord Callanan
Tuesday 31st January 2023

(1 year, 5 months ago)

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Viscount Stansgate Portrait Viscount Stansgate (Lab)
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My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper; it is not the first time that I have asked it.

Lord Callanan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lord Callanan) (Con)
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The noble Viscount is getting ahead of himself. The Government have been pushing the EU to implement our association to EU programmes, including Horizon Europe, but the EU has delayed our association, to the detriment of researchers and businesses in both the UK and the EU. If this situation persists, we will be ready to introduce a comprehensive alternative programme, which will include a new long-term talent offer, a single innovation programme uniting industry and academia, a global collaboration programme and support for world- class infrastructure.

Viscount Stansgate Portrait Viscount Stansgate (Lab)
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for his Answer. He will surely agree that, for decades, the UK benefited hugely from our association with EU research programmes, but will he not grudgingly accept that, three years after Brexit, real damage has been done to British science by being out of it? The Royal Society wants to know, as do I: first, what will happen to the Horizon Europe guarantee fund when it runs out in March; secondly, what about the £2 billion that has been set aside for future association; and, thirdly, do the Government recognise signs of a brain drain caused by the uncertainty? In short, while we all want the UK-EU negotiations on the Northern Ireland protocol to succeed, we do not want plan B; we want plan A, as promised. When will the Government deliver it?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The noble Viscount needs to take that message to the EU. The Government stand ready to implement the agreement that we freely entered into; it is the EU that is refusing to do so. I agree with the noble Viscount that Horizon Europe has been very valuable. That is why we entered into an agreement—the TCA—to continue our association, but the EU refuses to progress it.

Horizon Europe

Debate between Viscount Stansgate and Lord Callanan
Thursday 8th September 2022

(1 year, 10 months ago)

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Viscount Stansgate Portrait Viscount Stansgate
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made about the United Kingdom’s participation in the Horizon Europe research programme.

Lord Callanan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lord Callanan) (Con)
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My Lords, the Government remain ready to associate to Horizon Europe. We have entered into formal consultations with the EU, aiming to finalise the UK’s association. If the UK is unable to associate soon, we will be ready to introduce a comprehensive alternative programme that delivers many of the benefits of Horizon through international collaboration, end-to-end innovation, and a strong and attractive offer to encourage talented people to build their careers here in the UK.

Viscount Stansgate Portrait Viscount Stansgate (Lab)
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for his Answer, but I have asked this several times and there has been no progress whatever. We have not even had a Minister of Science during the crucial period of this summer. Does the Minister not realise that the uncertainty about this issue is running the very real risk of a brain drain? Surely the Minister wants to keep the best and the brightest in this country. Do the Government really want to sacrifice British science on the altar of the Northern Ireland protocol? Moreover, will the Minister accept that the Royal Society, major learned societies, Cancer Research UK and even this House’s own Science and Technology Committee make the point that a plan B is not the answer?

It is not the money but the irreparable damage to the collaboration between scientists around Europe and wider afield that is at risk. If the Government feel that there is a strong case for their position, perhaps the new Leader of the House could arrange a debate in government time to discuss this extremely important issue. We cannot call ourselves a science superpower unless we find a way to join Horizon Europe. What are the new Government going to do about this?

Horizon Europe

Debate between Viscount Stansgate and Lord Callanan
Thursday 7th July 2022

(2 years ago)

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Viscount Stansgate Portrait Viscount Stansgate
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what alternative plans they have prepared in the event that the United Kingdom is no longer a part of the Horizon Europe research programme.

Lord Callanan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lord Callanan) (Con)
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My Lords, the Government remain committed to associating to Horizon Europe. We remain disappointed that the EU is politicising science co-operation by delaying association. If the UK is unable to associate soon, we are ready to introduce a comprehensive alternative programme that delivers many of the benefits of Horizon through international collaboration, end-to-end innovation and a strong and attractive offer to encourage talented researchers to build their careers here in the UK.

Viscount Stansgate Portrait Viscount Stansgate (Lab)
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for that Answer. This is the third time that I have asked that Question and it is always the same disappointing Answer. I forget—forgive me—whether or not the Secretary of State in the Minister’s department is still in post, but I am a great admirer of the current Minister for Science, who is doing a good job.

Post Office: Horizon Compensation

Debate between Viscount Stansgate and Lord Callanan
Thursday 30th June 2022

(2 years ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I can give my noble friend a very quick answer to that: yes, I can give him that assurance. Once again, I pay tribute to the work he has done in exposing this scandal.

Viscount Stansgate Portrait Viscount Stansgate (Lab)
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating the Statement and apologise for briefly having left the Chamber while he was making it. I pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Arbuthnot, and others for the work they have done in bringing this scandal to public attention. My question arises in the light of the previous one, and it is about the public inquiry. Can the Minister tell the House how long it might take, for the obvious reason that the sooner it is completed, whatever its outcome, the sooner we can be reassured that a scandal of this kind can never happen again?

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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If my noble friend is talking about the GLO legal action, of course the costs of that were funded and the lawyers were not paid by the litigants; a lot of the compensation went to pay the legal fees, which is part of the problem with the GLO scheme.

Viscount Stansgate Portrait Viscount Stansgate (Lab)
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I hope the House will allow me the flexibility to take advantage of the fact that we have a few moments left in this exchange. Will the terms of reference of the inquiry—forgive me for not knowing the detail of them—encompass the role of the judiciary, which after all succeeded in sentencing an enormous number of postmasters to prison? Will it be a feature of the inquiry when it is held to investigate how that was possible?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The inquiry can cover all relevant matters. Of course, the role of the judiciary is being examined in the cases proceeding through the courts at the moment and in the convictions being overturned. I am sure that all those members of the judiciary still in their posts will pay close attention to those cases. To be fair, they can adjudge a case only on the evidence that is presented to them, but I am sure that they will want to take careful account of any technical evidence that was given in the various cases and perhaps treat it with a bit more scepticism in future.

Trades Union Congress: Levelling Up

Debate between Viscount Stansgate and Lord Callanan
Wednesday 29th June 2022

(2 years ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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My ministerial colleague, the Minister for Small Business, regularly meets with the trade unions. Another meeting is planned, I believe, in the next few weeks. So yes, of course it is important to gauge the opinion of trade unions, but I did not use the word “powerful”; I said they were a minority interest. I repeat: only 13% of workers in the private sector, the most productive sector of the economy, are now in trade unions.

Viscount Stansgate Portrait Viscount Stansgate (Lab)
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My Lords, since the Minister says that relations between the Government and the TUC are positive, why does the Prime Minister not direct the Transport Secretary to convene a meeting between the rail unions and the rail employers in order to bring about a settlement to the railway dispute?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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Because the responsibility for sitting down belongs to the employers—in this case, Network Rail and the train operating companies—and the trade unions. My understanding from listening to Network Rail is that it has set out a very positive agenda. At the end of the day, the taxpayer supported the railways to the tune of £16 billion over the last few years: that is £160,000 for every rail employee in this country. The taxpayer has been very generous; it is about time the unions reciprocated.

Energy Security Strategy

Debate between Viscount Stansgate and Lord Callanan
Wednesday 27th April 2022

(2 years, 2 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I thank the right reverend Prelate for saying that the sun shines on all of us—I am delighted to hear that. Community energy is important and we are supporting a number of community projects within Ofgem. I realise that there is a campaign to increase the take-up of community energy and we are in principle supportive of that. However, if those community energy projects also wish to be connected to the national grid and take advantage of other forms of energy and supply, it is right that they pay a proportionate share of costs for that. They are not insulating themselves from the national grid and from other forms of energy production and supply. Nevertheless, we want to see what we can do to support community energy, Ofgem is engaged in it, and we will look at what more we can do to help.

Viscount Stansgate Portrait Viscount Stansgate (Lab)
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My Lords, reference was made in the Statement to low-carbon hydrogen production. Does the Statement mean that the Government have in effect taken a long-term strategic decision—by which I mean well beyond 2030—that the hydrogen they intend this country to produce will be green and not blue?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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Ultimately, yes, but in the short term we will want to support both forms of hydrogen production to get the market started and we will look towards providing something similar to the contracts for difference scheme for hydrogen production. As the noble Viscount is aware, we announced an expansion of hydrogen production in the strategy.

European Research Council

Debate between Viscount Stansgate and Lord Callanan
Wednesday 27th April 2022

(2 years, 2 months ago)

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Viscount Stansgate Portrait Viscount Stansgate (Lab)
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My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper, and update the House on my interests in the register, as I was recently elected president of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, which, as the House may know, is Parliament’s oldest all-party group.

Lord Callanan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lord Callanan) (Con)
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My Lords, the UK government guarantee means that eligible successful ERC applicants will receive the full value of their funding at a UK host institution and need not leave the UK. Therefore, this communication from the ERC does not accurately reflect the options available to UK applicants. The UK remains committed to association, but the EU is not honouring commitments made when the TCA was agreed. If the EU continues to delay, we will introduce a bold alternative package.

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Viscount Stansgate Portrait Viscount Stansgate (Lab)
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply, but it is still disappointing. I shall put it in context for the House: €625 million-worth of grants were announced this week, with 61 grants to people based in Germany and the second highest number, 45, to people based in the UK. It is these people who have been told that they will lose their money if the Horizon Europe agreement is not reached by the deadline, which the European Research Council today told me is 19 September this year. Does the Minister accept that time is running out for an agreement to be reached between the EU and the UK on Horizon Europe? Does he accept that the problem is the Northern Ireland protocol and that, to some extent, science is being held hostage by the failure to agree the protocol arrangements between the UK and the EU? Is this a situation that we should be proud of when all of us in this Chamber want the UK to be a science superpower? Finally, the last time I raised this question, the Minister said that the money was safeguarded. Can he assure the House that the amount allocated by the Treasury will be spent on science and, if so, on what, where and by what mechanism?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I partly agree with the noble Lord. I agree that time is running out but not that the Northern Ireland protocol is the problem. The EU entered into an agreement which it is now refusing to implement; that is the long and short of the problem. As soon as some Members stop making excuses for the EU’s bad behaviour, we might succeed. We stand ready to associate with the Horizon programme as soon as the EU is prepared to sit down and implement the agreement that it signed.

Horizon Europe

Debate between Viscount Stansgate and Lord Callanan
Wednesday 9th March 2022

(2 years, 4 months ago)

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Viscount Stansgate Portrait Viscount Stansgate (Lab)
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My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper—and, if I may, I would like to wish the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, well in his retirement. He is a man I have disagreed with all my adult life, and I am sorry he did not quite last long enough in the Chamber to listen to the exchanges on what is my first Oral Question.

Lord Callanan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lord Callanan) (Con)
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My Lords, in line with the agreement made in December 2020, this Government are committed to finalising our association to Horizon Europe at the earliest opportunity. We continue to push the EU swiftly to formalise our association to Horizon Europe, as international co-operation is more important than ever now. We will support the UK R&D sector in all scenarios, either by associating to Horizon Europe or by implementing an alternative UK programme.

Viscount Stansgate Portrait Viscount Stansgate (Lab)
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for the reply, but it is very dispiriting. On Monday this week in the other place, the annual STEM for Britain competition was held, which features early-career scientists from the UK and Europe, with brilliant work on display. It is the very week when our chances of co-operation with Europe are slipping away, which will be terribly damaging. Indeed, does the Minister agree with me that not joining Horizon Europe is

“harming scientific research and collaboration”?

He certainly should, because that is a direct quote from the meeting held before Christmas of the Specialised Committee on Participation in Union Programmes.

Finally, may I also ask him about the money? Money has been allocated in the Budget for our participation in Horizon Europe. The financial year is drawing to an end, and we have not yet joined. Can the Minister assure the House that the money allocated for Horizon Europe will not be lost to science but will be carried over, either for the UK’s participation in Horizon Europe or for such other plan B as may eventually be necessary?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I agree with the noble Viscount; it is indeed very disappointing that the EU is refusing to abide by the agreement we made with it. I am sure that some of the EU’s supporters in this House will want to urge it to press ahead with this agreement. The UK stands willing and able to associate. We have an agreement to that effect, and we hope the EU will also abide by its commitments. The noble Viscount will be aware that the spending review allocated funding for full association to EU programmes. In the event that the UK is unable to associate, the full funding allocated will go to UK programmes; £5.6 billion was set aside over the spending review period.

Post Office: Horizon

Debate between Viscount Stansgate and Lord Callanan
Thursday 24th February 2022

(2 years, 5 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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My noble friend makes a very good point. Again, let us wait for the outcome of the inquiry to see exactly where the blame lies and what suitable redress can be provided.

Viscount Stansgate Portrait Viscount Stansgate (Lab)
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My Lords, can the Minister remind the House whether the compensation that is due to the people who have suffered this terrible injustice extends to the consequential effects on the lives of those who have been declared bankrupt?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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It is a complicated picture. There are a number of different compensation streams. There are the original GLO participants who took the case to the High Court. The problem there is that that case was settled—the point that I was making earlier—although there is considerable pressure, with which I sympathise, for them to be compensated further. There is the historical shortfall scheme and then there is the compensation due to those who probably suffered more than anyone, in that they were prosecuted, found guilty and often jailed or bankrupted accordingly. So there are a number of different compensation streams, and we need to make sure that everyone receives the compensation they deserve.

Advanced Research and Invention Agency Bill

Debate between Viscount Stansgate and Lord Callanan
Lord Callanan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lord Callanan) (Con)
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My Lords, Amendment 1 is minor and technical and is consequential to the amendment made on Report in the name of my noble friend Lady Noakes.

My noble friend’s amendment removed the power for the Secretary of State to determine a pension or gratuity for non-executive members. This government amendment is needed to remove a reference to that power, which no longer exists, in paragraph 7(4) of Schedule 1. This paragraph disapplies the power for the Secretary of State to determine a pension or gratuity for the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, who will sit as a non-executive member on ARIA’s board ex officio. The power is of course not relevant in this case due to the Chief Scientific Adviser’s existing employment and pension entitlement as a civil servant. As the original power no longer exists, I am sure that noble Lords will agree that this reference needs to be removed to tidy up the Bill before it returns to the Commons for consideration of the amendments made in this House.

Viscount Stansgate Portrait Viscount Stansgate (Lab)
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My Lords, is it in order to congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, on her success in moving her amendment in Committee? I watched as it went through and I thought how pleasing it must be for anyone to get an amendment accepted by the Government.

Postmasters with Overturned Convictions: Settlement Funds

Debate between Viscount Stansgate and Lord Callanan
Wednesday 15th December 2021

(2 years, 7 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I can certainly confirm what my noble friend has said in terms of briefings that I have given to Ministers. Indeed, similar briefings were given to me when I first started in the department. I went back and started to ask more questions. Paul Scully was new in his job at the time and I discussed the issue with him. We both agreed that we needed to do more. Since then, although it was not purely due to our actions, lots more information has come about, there have been various court cases and so on. It is certainly true that the culture of government is always to put up a firewall and try to stand firm. However, there are occasions when we just need to accept that things have gone terribly wrong and do what one can to put them right, which is what we are doing. I cannot go any further than the answers that I have already given in terms of compensation to the 555, but I have great faith in the Minister for Postal Affairs, who is responsible for this matter, and he will do whatever he can within the system.

Viscount Stansgate Portrait Viscount Stansgate (Lab)
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My Lords, I know that the Minister has said that there is an inquiry, but are the Government confident, given what they already know, that such a scandal can never happen again?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I hesitate to give the noble Viscount an unequivocal assurance because no one can do that. I can certainly say from the current ministerial team that we are absolutely determined to learn whatever lessons we are told to learn by the inquiry, take on board its recommendations and put in place whatever measures are required to make sure that it never happens again.

Advanced Research and Invention Agency Bill

Debate between Viscount Stansgate and Lord Callanan
Lord Callanan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lord Callanan) (Con)
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I thank all noble Lords who contributed for their engaging and, I thought, in general, very constructive contributions to the debate today. Many noble Lords made excellent points, and I will attempt to answer as many of their questions as possible.

Today’s debate, on a tripartite basis, demonstrates a shared passion to foster the UK’s world-class research base. Ensuring that the UK is the best place in the world for scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs to live and work is at the heart of the R&D road map. Despite the small criticisms raised by the Opposition Front Bench, there was generally commitment from all three main parties and from the Cross Benches to those objectives. It is central to the Government’s plan to build back better, and an integral commitment which last week’s spending review and Budget showed.

It is thanks to our dynamic research landscape that we have responded so robustly to the Covid pandemic, as my noble friend Lord Bethell so helpfully reminded us. The challenges that we have faced show just how important it is that we always remain on the front foot of research and development. And, as set out in the UK Innovation Strategy this summer, this can only be achieved through a rich and diverse research and innovation ecosystem.

I now turn to the specific points raised by noble Lords in some of their very good speeches. My noble friend Lord Bethell, and the noble Lord, Lord Ravensdale, asked good questions about why the Government will not be setting a research focus for ARIA’s activities. At her appearance during this Bill’s Committee stage in the other place, the chief executive officer of UKRI, Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, spoke about how

“the priorities that the Government and Ministers set to solve particular challenges for the nation … fall very much within the UKRI remit”.—[Official Report, Commons, Advanced Research and Invention Agency Bill, 14/4/21; col. 8]

The Government’s innovation strategy also set out our commitment to establish a new missions programme to tackle some of the most pressing challenges confronting the UK in the coming years. These will be decided by the National Science and Technology Council, chaired by the Prime Minister, in due course. Through these new mechanisms, this Government are taking a revised, strategic approach to assessing and funding our national scientific priorities. It would clearly be inappropriate to create another new body to do essentially the same thing. To reach new, brilliant people and ideas, we must diversify our ways of funding research, and I welcome the support of my noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe on this point. Clause 2 sets out how ARIA could achieve this, offering a broad range of support to R&D and—in response to my noble friend Lord Borwick—we do not expect it to offer prizes as understood in a common sense. What “prizes” refers to in this context is better termed as research competition, where multiple teams of scientists attempt to solve essentially the same problem.

The noble Lords, Lord Patel and Lord Davies of Brixton, asked about ARIA’s scope and objective. The noble Lords, Lord Clement-Jones and Lord Ravensdale, also asked about the technologies which ARIA would fund. The Bill sets out ARIA’s functions, and in the policy statement we have also set out its design principles. But to uphold the autonomy which is at the heart of this new agency, only ARIA’s leadership itself can be responsible for specifically setting out its strategy and its funding priorities. It is not a blank cheque, as the noble Lord, Lord Fox, has suggested.

The noble Lord, Lord Rees of Ludlow, in his contribution asked whether what we are trying to achieve through ARIA could be delivered through UKRI. I reassure the noble Lord that, in designing ARIA, we carefully considered all delivery options to optimise its chances of success. The noble Lords, Lord Clement-Jones, Lord Kakkar and Lord Broers, also asked about how we make sure that ARIA will work hand in hand with UKRI and the wider research landscape. Of course, while we are diversifying our system, it will only work if it is cohesive. It is not always necessary to legislate for these sorts of relationships. Communication, openness and trust are things which ARIA’s leaders will need to have not just with UKRI but with other stakeholders across the entire ecosystem. We have been looking for exactly these qualities in our recruitment of ARIA’s CEO. I pay tribute to the creation of UKRI and the bringing together of the research councils and Innovate UK under one umbrella, a point that was noted by the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate. His was an excellent contribution, and I hope we can look forward to further from him on this subject.

Viscount Stansgate Portrait Viscount Stansgate (Lab)
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My Lords, I thank the Minister, and would like to invite him and the Government Whips to approach Hansard and ask them to publish in italics the half of my speech which had to be cut.