Science Budget

Oral Answers to Questions — Duchy of Lancaster – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 18th May 1992.

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Photo of Mr Keith Mans Mr Keith Mans , Wyre 12:00 am, 18th May 1992

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what are the projected changes in the science budget for 1993–94 and 1994–95.

Photo of Robert Jackson Robert Jackson , Wantage

The science budget for which my right hon. Friend is responsible is projected to rise from £1,050 million in 1992–93 to £1,181 million in 1993–94 and £1,270 million in 1994–95. If the sums transferred from universities to research councils are deducted, the year-on-year increases will be £54 million and £60 million.

Photo of Mr Keith Mans Mr Keith Mans , Wyre

I welcome my hon. Friend to his new post in the new Department. How does the science budget for this year compare in real terms with that of a decade ago?

Photo of Robert Jackson Robert Jackson , Wantage

It is a substantial increase. The new Office of Science and Technology builds on healthy foundations. It has a 1992–93 science budget which is 25 per cent. larger in real terms than it was 10 years ago.

Photo of Paul Flynn Paul Flynn , Newport West

Does the Minister not consider that an appropriate use for the science budget would be investment in the successes of this country's science industry? Is it not a tragedy that Britain's last semiconductor manufacturer, INMOS, is about to move its manufacturing base to France and Italy, because the French and Italians believe in investing in British successes but the British Government do not?

Photo of Robert Jackson Robert Jackson , Wantage

It is important to ensure good links between our academic science base and industry, of the kind that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy said exists in the pharmaceutical sector. It is necessary for the private sector, which is in the lead in all those areas, to get involved and to be committed. We must keep open the science base, but it is not the Government's role to invest in near-market research and development of a kind that we can expect industry to undertake.

Photo of Liam Fox Liam Fox , Woodspring

Will my hon. Friend confirm that there has been a net inflow of academic staff specialising in this subject over recent years and that that development shows that there is a sound underlying base of research and development in the United Kingdom?

Photo of Robert Jackson Robert Jackson , Wantage

Yes. University statistical records show that there have been net inflows of academic staff from abroad over the past seven years, that the proportion of staff who leave for employment abroad is lower in the highest grades and that, since 1983, the professorial staff who leave have been outnumbered by those who have come here from abroad.