Beatson must keep world-class scientists


Jo has called on the Government to re-examine a decision to cut the number of staff the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research in Bearsden can recruit from overseas.

Questioning the Home Secretary Theresa May in the House of Commons this week, Jo raised concerns that the ability of the Beatson to recruit world-class scientists from around the globe may be affected by changes to the cap on immigration. The Institute was previously allowed an average of five visas every year, but changes to the rules have meant this has been reduced to just one.

Commenting, Jo said:

“If the Beatson’s capacity to recruit the best talent internationally is damaged then it risks being unable to deliver the best research possible in the fight against cancer.

“It is vital that the Home Secretary reconsiders this decision, as smaller employers like the Beatson in Bearsden are being asked to make disproportionately large cuts to their recruitment of overseas staff.

“I am pleased that Theresa May has agreed to look into this, and I hope she will agree that cancer research must not be allowed to suffer as an unintended consequence of the cap on immigration.”

Notes to editors:

The full text of Jo’s question and the reply from the Home Secretary were as follows:

Jo Swinson (East Dunbartonshire) (LD): What representations she has received from scientific organisations on the likely effects on the UK’s science base of proposed changes to the immigration rules. [20305]

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mrs Theresa May): Our recent consultation on the immigration system fully involved scientific organisations, which have underlined the importance of being able to recruit the best scientists from around the world. I am aware of the case of the Beatson institute in my hon. Friend’s constituency, and I can assure her that the UK Border Agency is looking closely at this and related cases.

Jo Swinson: I thank the Home Secretary for that reply. She refers to the Beatson Institute, which is a world-class cancer research facility that needs to attract the very best scientists in their field, regardless of their nationality. Previously it required about five tier 2 visas every year; that has been cut to just one under the new regime, so I welcome the fact that the issue will be looked at. Does she recognise the damage that could be caused to the Beatson, and to other scientific institutions, as a result of the unintended consequences of the immigration cap, and will she look again at whether an exemption could be made for science and research?

Mrs May: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for recognising that the UK Border Agency will look at the very real case that has been presented by the Beatson Institute in relation to its particular requirements. We have a commitment, as a coalition Government, to reduce net migration into this country. I believe that it is important that we do that, but do it a way that will ensure that we can truly attract the brightest and the best into this country to do the valuable work that they do in places such as the Beatson institute.


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