We are reviewing our policies for the science base in the light of the Advisory Board for the Research Council's recommendations on strategy and our wide-ranging consultations on those. This includes consideration of what the ABRC, Dr. Perutz and others have said about the need to support curiosity-motivated research.
The Government are still listening to the various voices speaking on the matter. We are considering proposals made by the ABRC, and extensive representations made by numbers of other people. We have not yet reached any conclusions in the matter.
Is my hon. Friend aware that what principally concerns my eminent constituent Dr. Perutz is the ludicrous concept put forward by the ABRC of three tiers of universities, the last of which would have no research at all? Is my hon. Friend aware that a university without research is a contradiction in terms, and can he categorically state that Her Majesty's Government will have nothing whatever to do with this nonsense and will reject this advice?
There is no doubt about the importance of the ABRC's advice that there is a need for continuing selectivity and concentration in our research effort. On the particular way of approaching that, for example by way of a multi-tier structure of universities, that is a question of the means of approaching the objective of selectivity. The Government are of course considering the proposal, but it does not necessarily follow that that is the appropriate way of doing it.
Does my hon. Friend agree that all good scientific research is based on curiosity and that the vast majority of scientists are motivated? Therefore, if he continues to support the science base, as he has indicated he will, will he concede that he will, therefore, by definition, be supporting curiosity-motivated research?
The Government have reached no conclusions in the matter. The principle of the necessary presence of research in university institutions is one that the Government understand, although I must point out to the hon. Gentleman that more than half the students in higher education in this country are educated in institutions whose mission does not embrace basic research.