Debates between Joseph Johnson and Carol Monaghan

There have been 8 exchanges between Joseph Johnson and Carol Monaghan

1 Tue 6th February 2018 Space Industry Bill [Lords] 3 interactions (323 words)
2 Tue 23rd January 2018 Space Industry Bill [ Lords ] (Second sitting) 4 interactions (710 words)
3 Mon 27th November 2017 University Tuition Fees 11 interactions (1,207 words)
4 Mon 20th November 2017 Student Loans Company 3 interactions (531 words)
5 Tue 7th November 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
5 interactions (268 words)
6 Mon 6th November 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
Department for Education
5 interactions (391 words)
7 Wed 11th October 2017 Higher Education Funding 3 interactions (436 words)
8 Mon 11th September 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
Department for Education
5 interactions (332 words)

Space Industry Bill [Lords]

(3rd reading: House of Commons)
(Report stage: House of Commons)
Debate between Joseph Johnson and Carol Monaghan
Tuesday 6th February 2018

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Joseph Johnson Hansard
6 Feb 2018, 11:30 a.m.

I thank my right hon. Friend for his support for the Government’s approach of gathering the evidence base in a call for evidence, and then, if necessary, holding a further consultation, particularly involving the devolved Administrations.

Carol Monaghan Portrait Carol Monaghan - Hansard
6 Feb 2018, 11:30 a.m.

Can the Minister offer any timeframe for the consultation and the ongoing process, because the industry would welcome that?

Joseph Johnson Hansard
6 Feb 2018, 11:30 a.m.

The Government have committed to launch the call for evidence as soon as the Bill receives Royal Assent, which we hope will not be too long now. Should the evidence show that there is demand and a need for a liability cap of the kind that the hon. Lady has been describing, we will launch a formal consultation at that stage. That consultation will, properly, involve the devolved Administrations and others with interests in this matter.

Through amendment 4, the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull East (Karl Turner) rightly raises the importance of the timely provision of guidance to applicants for spaceflight operator licences, and the benefits of pre-application discussions between prospective applicants and the regulator. The Government fully recognise that all potential licence applicants under the Bill—spaceports, satellite operators, range control service providers and spaceflight operators—will need to understand the regulations and processes with which they will need to comply. I hope that my earlier responses to the hon. Member for Glasgow North West (Carol Monaghan), who is speaking on behalf of the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire, have helped Members to understand the approach that we will be taking.

Pre-licence application discussions are already a key part of current Civil Aviation Authority and UK Space Agency licensing, and they will remain a central part of the process for licences under the Bill. Such discussions benefit prospective licence applicants and the regulator, because they help to build effective working relationships. The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull East will be pleased to know that discussions of this sort are already under way with a number of interested companies.

Space Industry Bill [ Lords ] (Second sitting)

(Committee Debate: 2nd sitting: House of Commons)
Debate between Joseph Johnson and Carol Monaghan
Tuesday 23rd January 2018

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Public Bill Committees
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Carol Monaghan Portrait Carol Monaghan (Glasgow North West) (SNP) - Hansard

To add to the comments of my hon. Friend, this issue could affect where future developments take place in the space industry. Jurisdictions such as Singapore do not require satellites—Glasgow has strength in satellites—to be built locally. However, other jurisdictions require satellites to be built in the local area or in the country.

If cube satellite businesses do not get a mandatory liability cap within this Bill, there is a danger that future development will be affected, and a danger that, when those businesses are looking to expand or develop satellites for future use, they will do so where they can get one. That would be where they can insure and launch satellites. It is absolutely crucial that we get this issue sorted at this stage.

Joseph Johnson Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 2:09 p.m.

We discussed an operator’s liability to indemnify the Government against claims from foreign states and their nationals in clause 35. In addition, clause 33 places a strict liability on the operator to compensate third parties in the UK who suffer injury or damage as a result of space flight activity. This is necessary because the Bill allows spaceflight activities to take place from the UK. The intention is to provide easy recourse to compensation for the uninvolved general public in the UK on the same basis as compensation available to foreign nationals.

Clause 33(5) provides a power to make regulations to limit an operator’s liability arising out of spaceflight activities. As we have discussed, the Government intend to issue a call for evidence to consider whether such a cap is appropriate. The amendments seek to require the Government to make regulations that specify a cap on liability in an operator’s licence based on the risk profile of the launch.

The proposal is to set an upper limit on that cap in secondary legislation of €60 million. That figure, as we have discussed, reflects the existing cap on an operator’s liability to indemnify the Government in a licence for a standard mission issued under the Outer Space Act 1986, which was set following considerable experience of satellite licensing. There is no reason to believe that that is also an appropriate level at which to cap a launch vehicle operator’s liability to third parties in the UK, since that activity is likely to be inherently more risky.

Creating inflexibility in legislation is also not helpful. The existing Government indemnity liability cap of €60 million for satellite operators is set by a policy decision and can be varied as appropriate—the figure is not laid down in the Outer Space Act for that reason. The UK Space Agency is considering its approach to risk management of satellite licensing, including the implications for liabilities and insurance requirements. That flexibility is vital if regulation is to keep up with a rapidly changing space sector. The UK Space Agency intends to issue further guidance on that new approach later this year.

As that demonstrates, legislative flexibility is better for both industry and the Government, because it allows the regulator to determine case by case whether to cap liability and the level of any cap. That should encourage operators to design their missions to reduce injury and damage as much as possible, leading to safer launches and reduced costs for them.

Carol Monaghan Portrait Carol Monaghan - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 2:11 p.m.

Will the Minister give way?

Joseph Johnson Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 2:12 p.m.

Let me turn to some of the hon. Lady’s specific points before she intervenes—I may anticipate what she is about to ask.

A mandatory cap on liability and mandatory Government compensation embedded in primary legislation could potentially breach state aid rules. That could also cause difficulties in respect of future trading rules applying to the UK, although those are of course as yet unknown. For that reason, it is important to retain the flexibility to deal with the issue by way of secondary legislation. In that way, this and future Governments will have a power to introduce and vary a cap to ensure that it is in line with our legal obligations. It can also be varied in the light of changes in the market or in our trading commitments.

The amendment to clause 33(4)(a) means that the Government—the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire commented on this—must compensate a claimant only in the event of a cap. That amendment does not mean that there is a cap on the face of the Bill.

University Tuition Fees

Debate between Joseph Johnson and Carol Monaghan
Monday 27th November 2017

(2 years, 8 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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The Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation (Joseph Johnson) Hansard
27 Nov 2017, 5:55 p.m.

I am grateful to the petitioners for giving us the chance to have this debate as well as to the hon. Member for Hartlepool (Mike Hill) for introducing it.

Enabling people from all backgrounds to take advantage of the opportunities provided by higher education is obviously an important goal for the Government. Since reforming the student finance system in 2012, the Government have been able to lift the enforced cap on student numbers that had been in place for many years and remove the associated cap on social mobility that it represented. We have enabled record numbers of 18-year-olds, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to start in higher education. We have also increased the total resources available to universities by about 25% per student per degree, according to the IFS. As a result of all of that, increased numbers of students stand to benefit from increased lifetime earnings of at least £100,000 more than non-graduates after tax.

[Mr Christopher Chope in the Chair]

However, it is only fair that graduates should share some of the costs associated with their education, rather than those costs falling to the taxpayer alone. The system is designed to ensure that those who benefit contribute to the costs of higher education in proportion to the benefits that they receive from it. The motion raises the question of whether we should reduce tuition fees to £3,000. In our view that would be a big step backwards. We estimate it would cost the Government an additional £6 billion a year. The Government would have to choose whether to reduce funding to universities, reintroduce a cap on the number of students who could access higher education, or ask taxpayers, many of whom will be non-graduates, to pay that £6 billion additional cost. None of those options is palatable. We need our universities to be well funded so that they can equip our graduates with the skills and knowledge that they need to contribute to our economy.

Carol Monaghan Portrait Carol Monaghan - Hansard
27 Nov 2017, 5:57 p.m.

Will the Minister give way?

Joseph Johnson Hansard
27 Nov 2017, 5:57 p.m.

I want to respond to the points made by the hon. Member for Poplar and Limehouse (Jim Fitzpatrick), and then I will give way to the hon. Member for Glasgow North West (Carol Monaghan). The hon. Member for Poplar and Limehouse clearly does not support the wholesale abolition of tuition fees, which I understand to be the present policy of the Labour party. However, I hope he will acknowledge that the most worrying effect of reducing fees to £3,000 would be to lower the participation of students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. To lower spending and to control it in the context of rising demand for what would effectively be free higher education, the Treasury would push hard to introduce student number controls that we, thanks to our present student finance system, have been able to lift under our current arrangements.

Carol Monaghan Portrait Carol Monaghan - Hansard
27 Nov 2017, 5:58 p.m.

I thank the Minister for giving way. He mentioned who should pay the fees and shoulder the responsibility for that. If we ask taxpayers, “Do you want to fund this particular student £9,000 a year to go to university?” probably their answer would be no, but if we were to say, “Do you want to have teachers in our schools, nurses and doctors in our health service and engineers working on different projects, and your taxes will fund that,” I think the answer would be different.

Joseph Johnson Hansard
27 Nov 2017, 5:59 p.m.

The Government recognise that the cost needs to be shared in proportion to the benefits that flow from higher education. There are public benefits, which the Government make a contribution to on behalf of taxpayers, and there are private benefits, which individual students should make a contribution to. We have a mixed economy for our higher education system, which makes it sustainable and fair.

Carol Monaghan Portrait Carol Monaghan - Hansard
27 Nov 2017, 5:59 p.m.

If the Minister is suggesting that the private benefits would be an increased salary, part of the increased salary would be an increased tax, so people would be contributing via their salary.

Joseph Johnson Hansard

Indeed they would, but it is also important that they make a direct contribution that relates to the benefit they have received, which has been provided for them by a public funding contribution.

Break in Debate

Joseph Johnson Hansard
27 Nov 2017, 6:07 p.m.

My hon. Friend raises some interesting points. A longstanding feature of the system has been that it uses RPI, as that includes costs that are relevant to the basket of goods and services that students consume, including housing costs and mortgage interest costs. That is why RPI has been embedded in the student finance system historically.

International students make a massive contribution to our higher education system, economy and society. They enrich the learning experience, and the Government welcome them warmly. We wish to see more international students come to study in the United Kingdom. Members will have seen some positive changes in the Budget, including an expansion of the tier 1 exceptional talent cap, and that route into the country. The Budget also contained measures to make it easier for students to flip into tier 2 after they have finished studying, which means that they can move into work straight after completing their studies, rather than waiting until they receive a diploma some time later. That will be particularly valuable for people doing postgraduate courses. The Government are taking steps to ensure that we have a competitive offer for international students, so that we continue to be competitive around the world in attracting international students.

The hon. Member for Glasgow North West suggested that the tighter controls on student numbers in Scotland were not restricting opportunities there. I know that she did not want to hear about the OECD’s PISA rankings, but she may be interested in taking note of what the Sutton Trust has said about student numbers in Scotland, and how, in its opinion, they have restricted the aspiration of young people in Scotland. The Sutton Trust recently stated that

“Scottish 18 year olds from the most advantaged areas are still more than four times more likely to go straight to university than those from the least advantaged areas”

in Scotland. In comparison, they are 2.4 times more likely in England. We obviously take note of the hon. Lady’s points, but she should not give the impression that social mobility in Scotland is being advanced by higher education policy there to a greater extent than by our policies in England.

Carol Monaghan Portrait Carol Monaghan - Hansard
27 Nov 2017, 6:09 p.m.

As I explained in my speech, much of the data on student movement is not captured by UCAS figures and is therefore not captured by the Sutton Trust’s report, so it is simply not a true reflection of the picture in Scotland.

Joseph Johnson Hansard
27 Nov 2017, 6:09 p.m.

I take note of the hon. Lady’s comments. The Sutton Trust has been engaged in this area of study for many years and has had plenty of opportunity to take on board points from her party over the years, but it has evidently chosen not to do so.

The Government remain committed to widening participation in HE. England’s sustainable student finance system has enabled record numbers of disadvantaged 18-year-olds to benefit. As my hon. Friend the Member for North East Derbyshire (Lee Rowley) noted, in 2016 disadvantaged 18-year-olds in England were 43% more likely to go to university than they were in 2009, and the application rate for disadvantaged 18-year-olds increased to a record high once again in the 2017 entry cycle.

Student Loans Company

Debate between Joseph Johnson and Carol Monaghan
Monday 20th November 2017

(2 years, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Joseph Johnson Parliament Live - Hansard
20 Nov 2017, 3:53 p.m.

We keep all aspects of our student finance system under review, to ensure that it is fair and effective as a system, and that it is meeting our core objectives of removing financial barriers to access, funding our university system fairly, and sharing the costs of doing so equitably between individual students and the general taxpayer. The rate of interest is heavily subsidised. This is to be compared with unsecured personal commercial borrowings. The Bank of England benchmark reference rate for unsecured personal commercial borrowing would be well over 7%, and this is a particularly unique product, which is written off entirely after 30 years with no recourse to a borrower’s other assets, and it only enters the repayment period when people are earning more than £25,000. So it is a unique product, and it is not easy to compare any element of it with loan offerings from elsewhere in the commercial sector.

Carol Monaghan Portrait Carol Monaghan (Glasgow North West) (SNP) - Parliament Live - Hansard

In recent years the SLC has been plagued by mishaps, complaints of inefficient bureaucracy, and poor customer service. The latest student loan sell-off is also concerning; we saw the problems for many graduates, receiving letters telling them they must pay even though their earnings had not reached the repayment level. Can the Minister confirm that the SLC will not now, or in the foreseeable future, syphon loans off to a third party?

Devolved Administrations are shareholders in the SLC. Can the Minister outline the discussions he has had with fellow shareholders on the circumstances of the dismissal of the chief executive of that company?

Over 1,400 people are employed by the SLC in Glasgow. Can the Government confirm that any shake-up of practices will not involve a plan to move any part of the company from Glasgow and that all employees will have an opportunity to be consulted in any future discussions?

At a time when graduates are paying up to 6.1% in loan interest, student debt in England is nearly treble what it is in Scotland, so does the Minister not think that, while the SLC could use a radical-shake up and reform, his policies could, too? The Budget is just around the corner, so while the Minister works to clear up the managerial problems, why does he not clear up the mess of his policy and stop saddling English students with the millstone of debt around their necks?

Joseph Johnson Parliament Live - Hansard
20 Nov 2017, 3:55 p.m.

I am not sure that we need lessons from Scotland on our higher education policies. Over successive Administrations in this country, those policies have resulted in levels of access for people from disadvantaged backgrounds that should frankly be the envy of Scottish National party Members rather than a source of criticism. The hon. Lady asked about the work that SLC staff do from its location in Glasgow, and of course that is valued. We support everything they are doing to ensure that the SLC continues to perform at the level that we all want it to, as an important agency of the Department for Education. As I have said, it is now in its sixth consecutive year of improvement in all its operational metrics, and we want that to continue. I am sure that Glasgow will play its part in that.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Joseph Johnson and Carol Monaghan
Tuesday 7th November 2017

(2 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Joseph Johnson Parliament Live - Hansard
7 Nov 2017, 11:49 a.m.

My hon. Friend is a strong champion for her constituency, and I am pleased to say that we have recently issued a statement confirming our intention to establish high quality and prestigious institutions that specialise in delivering the higher level technical skills that employers need across all regions of England. We will be launching a call for proposals before the end of the year and would welcome applications from Redditch and other places across the country.

Carol Monaghan Portrait Carol Monaghan (Glasgow North West) (SNP) - Hansard

5. What recent assessment he has made of the effect of the UK leaving the EU on the Scottish research sector. [901638]

The Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation (Joseph Johnson) Hansard
7 Nov 2017, 11:50 a.m.

As I have said, Scottish institutions are performing well in terms of their participation levels in Horizon 2020, and we want that to continue in the years ahead. The Government are working hard to ensure the success of our institutions and to get an agreement that enables us to continue to collaborate in the years ahead.

Carol Monaghan Portrait Carol Monaghan - Parliament Live - Hansard
7 Nov 2017, 11:50 a.m.

Of course we also want our institutions to continue to do well, but our research sector is facing a significant loss of funding owing to Brexit, which will of course impact on innovation. What direct communication have the Government had with Scottish universities about the funding threat posed by Brexit?

Joseph Johnson Parliament Live - Hansard

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department for Education are in constant contact with all the devolved Administrations at various levels on a wide range of issues, including EU exit. BEIS participates in various forums, including the UK research funders group, and officials have recently participated in working groups with the Scottish Government, Universities Scotland, Heriot-Watt University and Edinburgh University.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Joseph Johnson and Carol Monaghan
Monday 6th November 2017

(2 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Education
Joseph Johnson Parliament Live - Hansard
6 Nov 2017, 2:59 p.m.

There is no cap on the number of international students who can come to study in Scotland, or in any other part of the United Kingdom. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will welcome the fact that there has been a 24% increase in the number of international students coming to study at Scottish institutions since 2009-2010.

Carol Monaghan Portrait Carol Monaghan (Glasgow North West) (SNP) - Hansard
6 Nov 2017, 2:59 p.m.

Despite any increases that the Minister may cite, the diversity of those students has narrowed dramatically. Higher education depends on the ability to attract and retain talent from across the world. The Minister will be aware that since 1998, Canada’s provincial nominee scheme has operated successfully, allowing provinces to vary immigration policy to suit their own requirements. I understand that the UK Government are anti-immigration, but Scotland is not. Will the Minister tell Universities Scotland what discussions he is having with the Home Office about the reinstatement of the post-study work visa?

Joseph Johnson Parliament Live - Hansard
6 Nov 2017, 3 p.m.

The Government have commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee to provide an assessment of the benefits of international students to the UK economy and our universities. As I said to the hon. Lady’s colleague, the hon. Member for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East (Stuart C. McDonald), Scottish institutions have experienced a 24% increase in the number of international students coming to study at them since 2009-10.

Carol Monaghan Portrait Carol Monaghan - Hansard
6 Nov 2017, 3:01 p.m.

Of course, it is not just students who are having problems. Dr Jessamyn Fairfield is a physicist originally from New Mexico, but now lecturing in Galway. In August Dr Fairfield arrived in Cardiff to do a science show. Her parking pass and entry to the festival were considered payment in kind and she was denied entry to the UK. Similar cases have been documented involving academics attending conferences. Ironically, Dr Fairfield is back in the UK this week to receive a prize for scientific engagement. So what assurances can the Minister give to academics like Dr Fairfield, who is in Parliament today, that the UK remains open for conferences and academic events?

Joseph Johnson Hansard
6 Nov 2017, 3:01 p.m.

We want the UK to remain the go-to place for scientists, tech investors and researchers in the years to come post-Brexit. We have given many assurances to EU researchers around the continent that they are welcome in the UK. We want their contribution to continue, they are hugely valued, and we have every expectation that that is going to continue to be the case.

Higher Education Funding

Debate between Joseph Johnson and Carol Monaghan
Wednesday 11th October 2017

(2 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Joseph Johnson Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Oct 2017, 12:56 p.m.

We continue to keep all aspects of our student funding system under careful review to ensure that it remains fair and effective, and that we are getting the balance right between the interests of individual students, who go on to have far higher lifetime earnings, and the interests of general taxpayers, whose voices must also be heard in this debate. The interest rate that my right hon. Friend mentioned will be among the things that we will continue to keep under careful watch in the weeks and months to come. Degree apprenticeships are a very promising way of combining the best of higher education and further education. We want them to develop and grow, and we want more providers in the system to offer them. They have huge potential.

Carol Monaghan Portrait Carol Monaghan (Glasgow North West) (SNP) - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Oct 2017, 12:57 p.m.

Raising the repayment threshold is a positive step and I am delighted that the UK Government are following the Scottish Government’s lead on that matter, but we have to be clear: it is not the panacea that this Government would have us believe. Average student debt on graduation is now more than £50,000, so the announcement needs to be part of a wider reform of student support and funding, which must include bursaries, grants and the abolition of tuition fees—indeed, everything we are doing in Scotland, which is ensuring that our students have the lowest student debt and the best level of support in the UK. We also have more students from deprived backgrounds accessing HE than ever before.

What further steps will this Government take both to increase student support and to reduce student debt? Will the Minister now commit to reducing or better still abolishing fees and reinstating the maintenance grant for those in most need as part of a realistic student support package? Will he guarantee that he will look at reducing the interest on student loans in England, which is keeping young people locked into long-term debt?

Joseph Johnson Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Oct 2017, 12:58 p.m.

No, I certainly will not commit to abolishing tuition fees. They are a strong policy success in many ways and an unsung one. They have enabled us to allow more people from disadvantaged backgrounds to go to university than at any point before. They have enabled us to lift student number controls. That is a critical argument for holding on to a system that shares the cost of funding fairly between the individual student, who goes on to have far higher lifetime earnings, and the general taxpayer.

We keep the system under careful review. As the Prime Minister set out in Manchester, we will make further announcements in due course about the rest of the student funding system.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Joseph Johnson and Carol Monaghan
Monday 11th September 2017

(2 years, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Education
Joseph Johnson Hansard
11 Sep 2017, 2:52 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman raises an important question. We must ensure that our offer for international students is competitive in all respects and that they feel they will get the kind of provision that suits their needs and opportunities to learn in a workplace environment. We will study his comments with interest.

Carol Monaghan Portrait Carol Monaghan (Glasgow North West) (SNP) - Hansard
11 Sep 2017, 2:53 p.m.

The Minister is quite right that we are doing well with international students, particularly from China and India, but universities across the UK are losing out in the recruitment of students from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US, because the UK has one of the least competitive policies on post-study work in the English-speaking world. Will he commit to work with the Home Secretary to reinstate the post-study work visa?

Joseph Johnson Hansard
11 Sep 2017, 2:53 p.m.

The hon. Lady will be encouraged, I hope, by the pilots that the Home Office has recently undertaken with a number of institutions—four, I believe —to enable a more liberal post-study work regime. The Home Office and the Department for Education are examining that pilot carefully, and it is our ambition that when circumstances allow, it can be extended more broadly across the sector.

Carol Monaghan Portrait Carol Monaghan - Hansard
11 Sep 2017, 2:54 p.m.

The pilot provides only a narrow range of courses that are eligible for participation in the scheme, so it needs to be widened. The Scottish National party has consistently called on the UK Government to remove international students from the net migration figures. Now that the Government figures on net migration among those students have been utterly discredited, will the Minister join us in calling for those students to be removed permanently from net migration figures?

Joseph Johnson Hansard

As I said a minute ago, that would not limit numbers. The fact that they are in the migration cap does not limit the ability of institutions to recruit as many international students as they wish, provided that they meet the requisite academic standards. There is no cap and no plan to introduce a cap, and that applies to Scottish institutions as much as it does to English ones.