COMMONS

An immigration system that works for science and innovation inquiry launched

16 May 2018

The Science and Technology Committee intends to develop its own proposals for immigration and visa rules for scientists.

This work follows the Government’s rejection of the Committee’s call for the conclusions of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) relating to science to be brought forward to form part of an ‘early deal’ for science and innovation.

Brexit, Science and Innovation report

The Committee published its report on “Brexit, Science and Innovation” in March, and has recently received the Government’s response. The report welcomed the Prime Minister’s call for a “far-reaching pact” with the EU on science and innovation. We had recommended that an early deal for science—including on the ‘people’ element—could set a positive tone for the rest of the trade negotiations, given the mutual benefits of cooperation on science and innovation for the UK and the EU.

The Committee now intends to produce its own proposals for an immigration system that works for science and innovation, with the aim of completing this in advance of the MAC’s report later this year.

Chair' comments

The Committee Chair, Rt Hon Norman Lamb MP, said:

“It was disappointing that the Government doesn’t see the need to secure an early science pact, and assumes that scientists are happy to just wait and see what’s in the Immigration Bill next year. We’re going to roll up our sleeves now and set out our proposals for an immigration system that works for the science and innovation sector.”

“Today’s revelation that more than 1,600 IT specialists and engineers offered jobs in the UK were denied visas between December and March sends the message that the UK is not interested in welcoming science talent at the moment. The Government needs to work quickly to correct that impression.

The Committee will draw on the submissions to its previous Brexit inquiry and the sector’s submissions to the MAC to construct its proposals for the immigration system, but further input to this process is welcome on the following points:

  • If an early deal for science and innovation could be negotiated, what specifically should it to contain in relation to immigration rules and movement of people involved with science and innovation?
  • What are the specific career needs of scientists in relation to movement of people, both in terms of attracting and retaining the people the UK needs and supporting the research that they do?
  • What aspects of the ‘people’ element need to be negotiated with the EU-27, as opposed to being simply decided on by the Government?
  • On what timescale is clarity needed in relation to future immigration rules in order to support science and innovation in the UK?

The deadline for submissions is Wednesday 6 June 2018 and can be submitted through the immigration system that works for science and innovation inquiry page. The Committee expects to hold an evidence session to be held on Tuesday 19 June and have other informal discussions with the community as appropriate.

The Committee intends subsequently to combine this work with the findings of its previous inquiry to produce its own draft ‘pact’ for science and innovation.

Further information

Image: PA

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