MP's Column

Many will know that I sit on the Science and Technology Select Committee. This committee is undertaking an enquiry into public investment in science and technology ahead of the Government's spending review.

On Tuesday last week we had the privilege of grilling Professor Brian Cox on his view regarding the benefit and likely return of tax-payers' money given to research and development in science and technology.

Professor Cox's TV profile has considerably increased public awareness of science and the Select Committee recognises his contribution to science in the UK and beyond. In particular, his support for schools that specialise in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) has led to an increase in pupils choosing these subjects.

Professor Brian Cox stated that it makes sound business and financial sense to adequately fund research in areas such as science and technology. Although the UK lags behind our global competitors when it comes to public investment in science and technology, we remain one of the world leaders in this field and people come from all around the world to learn from our experts.

In West Cornwall and on the Isles of Scilly high tech jobs and growth in the 'knowledge-based' sector provide the best opportunity for us to address our low-wage economy.

Recently MPs debated the measures that the Government is undertaking to create a well-paid, low-tax economy rather than the low-paid, high-tax situation we find ourselves in currently. The measures, such as the new living wage, 30 hours free childcare and the increase in the income tax threshold, will help to counter the changes to tax credits.

I have written to George Osborne ahead of the spending review because I believe the Government must consider further measures to ensure that our lower-paid employees, such as teaching assistants and care and support workers, are adequately rewarded for the work they do.

It is important that they can continue to do the work they do so well. These jobs are vital to our communities and valued by us all.