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Tracking David Willetts & Vince Cable

Updated 15 November

This page tracks the speeches and other interesting statements made by David Willetts, the Minister for Universities and Science, and Vince Cable, his boss at BIS.

Its different from the speeches page at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills because it includes speeches and statements by Willetts and Cable that are not approved by BIS either in part or in whole, such as Willetts speech to Oxford Brookes University on 10 June. Also, there will be some links to notable interviews with the two and some House of Commons business. Occasionally I also include relevant speeches by others, eg Cameron, Osborne or the CBI.

Its different to the Wikipedia entries because it stays up-to-date with new statements, is an original source (eg the full Oxford Brookes speech is not available elsewhere), and because Ill be offering my opinion on what Willetts and Cable are saying.

Also, there are even links here to speeches that Cable and Willetts dont make! And occassionally something by other ministers if they touch on the main BIS themes.

The Coalition involves peculiar arrangement for Willetts and Cable at BIS. According to the organogram, Cable is Willetts boss. But the political reality is that Willetts has substantial clout in his own right, also attending Cabinet for example. This makes the whole notion of BIS having a unified departmental position on any subject problematic. Although Cable and Willetts will no doubt manage to agree on many things, what about the cases where they dont?

For some of the issues raised by the BIS split, see my column in Research Fortnight (requires subscription, but pretty much all UK campuses have access). More generally, for up-to-date responses to what Willetts and Cable are saying, and analysis, you should subscribe to Research Fortnight.

This intro extensively revised on 1 July 2010

2010 Most recent at the top

Note – since the House of Commons statement about Browne on 3 November, Cable and especially Willetts have almost disappeared from view. My thoughts on what they are discussing are here.

15 November. Vince Cable speaks to the Girls School Association. No text.

12 November. Cable describes abolition of RDAs as “Maoist and chaotic

12 November. Richard Lambert, director general of the CBI, takes on Browne and the CSR. My annotated version of his speech here.

4 November. David Cameron launches the Tech City in east London with a talk on growth, and publishes an interim policy paper, Blueprint for Technology. My annotated version of the speech and reflections on the document here. Theres a lot of Google love, as evidenced in this column by Osborne & Schmidt.

3 November. Willetts speech to House of Commons announcing the governments response to Browne, and subsequent debate in Hansard or on video, starting at about 12:33. Our live blog, including much commentary and reaction, is here.

28 October. Cable speaks to students at the University of Oxford. Or, actually, he doesnt, after realising he would face a demonstration against rises in fees. Instead, he gives an interview to Craig Brown at the Daily Mail. Brown appears to have recorded some of the answers less than faithfully.

27 October. Willetts responds to a blog at Channel 4 complaining about higher fees.

25 October. Willetts speech to BIA/ABPI conference announcing Therapeutic Capability Clusters. Hear his speech here. [Thanks to Bob Winder at BIA for reminder on this].

25 October. Cable speech to CBI, giving more substance to his inquiry into City short-termism.

21 October. Willetts speech to vice chancellors at HEFCE conference focusing on Browne. My analysis here.

12 October. Cables statement to the House of Commons on Browne.

3 October. Willetts speech to Conservative Party conference. Despite authoritative leaks to the Guardian and FT, he hardly mentions the Browne review. He says he will “focus on the big challenge of growth and prosperity”. My analysis here.

30 September. Cable speech to MEPs reiterates the traditional UK agenda, prioritising the completion of the single market, especially in services. But he also slaps down the Commission’s innovation agenda, saying, “the Europe 2020 strategy, with its emphasis on innovation, skills and mobility, only tells part of the story. Far more important, in my view, is the role of trade and open markets.”

22 September. Cable speech to Lib Dem conference. The one that got him (wrongly) labelled as an anti-capitalist. My analysis here. See also Nick Cleggs incredible statement at the conference that, “The only question is over when we can afford to scrap tuition fees.”

17 September. Willetts announces review of advisory committees.

9 September. Willetts speech to Universities UK. Analysed by me here.

8 September. Vince Cable delivers his first set piece speech on science at Queen Marys (analysed here) and sets out an approach to reforming HEFCEs QR allocations (looked at more closely here), but gets it all horribly wrong on the Today programme beforehand.

26 July. Willetts announces decision to allow the huge US corporation that runs the University of Phoenix to rebrand its existing BPP College as a “University College”. BPP already has 30,000 students studying for accountancy qualifications. Daily Mail reports BPP saying it plans to become a university.

25 July. Cable tells Sunday Times that Cameron has agreed his approach to reform of fees.

22 July. BBC politics reporter on Radio 4 Today programme reports agreement between Cable and Willetts on three principles for reform of fees: more progressive; incentivise universities; open to using tax system as repayment mechanism.

21 July. Willetts space speech.

21 July Mike Baker at BBC reports senior Conservative rejecting Graduate Tax. See my report here on what the coalition has actually agreed on a “variable graduate contribution”.

15 July. Cable speech on Higher Education to London South Bank University. The one where he floats the idea of a Graduate Tax without ever saying “Graduate Tax”, with commentary from me. Oddly, Cables interview on the Radio 4 Today programme that morning has been deleted.

9 July. Willetts speech to the Royal Institution. His first landmark speech on science, with commentary from me.

21 June. Willetts Interview on the Daily Politics show, after withdrawing the loan to Sheffield Forgemasters. Willetts extends state support to “R&D”, but not picking winners. Its a rather Cable-like stance in fact, though less effusive. See my commentary here.

17 June. Willetts Comments in the House of Commons. Willetts highlights role of science role in economic growth, but fails to mention third stream funding such as TSB or HEIF, again. Indeed, as I explain in the PS here, hes starting to verge on the hostile – another difference in tone to Cable.

10 June. Cable speech on growth. Cable tackles the question of how to get growth while cutting, but, I think, says less than he seems to.

10 June. Willetts Speech at Oxford Brookes University – BIS-approved version, Full version, Blog by Laura Hood on the differences. Willetts again fails to repeat the lines that caused the stir in the Guardian story. My conclusion: his intellectual honesty has got him into trouble, as it did with grammar schools. Having blundered in the Guardian interview, he reverts to damping down middle class fears. For the background to this, see my blog here.

10 June. Willetts Interview on BBC Radio 4 Today programme. Willetts fails to repeat the lines that caused the stir in the Guardian story.

9 June. Willetts Interview with the Guardian. Willetts warns that the cost of hundreds of thousands of students degree courses is a “burden on the taxpayer that had to be tackled”. The fees system is also “unsustainable” and in need of “radical change”.

7 June. Cable column on university cuts in his local newspaper. In 300 words, Cable gives a clear picture of what universities are facing.

3 June. Cable speech to the Cass Business School. Cable outlines his agenda and – rather daringly – backs picking winners, when that phrase is properly understood.

20 May. Willetts Speech at the University of Birmingham. Willetts sets the scene for his term of office.