To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what study he has made of the trends in the number of British students of high ability wishing to do postgraduate training and research; and in what subjects he sees cause for concern because of poor career prospects.
Is the Minister aware that despite his answer, there are many young, outstanding scientists in Britain who are deterred from undertaking postgraduate research or who go abroad to do that research because of the poor career prospects in Britain? Does he agree with Sir David Philips, chairman of the Advisory Board for the Research Councils, that we are in great danger of falling behind our foreign competitors in terms of industrial development because of the Government's failure properly to invest in civil research? Will the Government ever understand the close connection between Government-backed investment and industrial development?
I have to point out to the hon. Gentleman that the numbers of postgraduates in science have increased by one third since 1979. As for his observations about Government expenditure on civil research and development, an examination of the proportion of the national product invested in civil research and development by Governments makes it clear that we spend more than the United States and Japan.
Will my hon. Friend confirm that as our economy picks up and our manufacturing industry expands throughout Britain the opportunities for students to move into engineering and manufacturing disciplines have never been better?