Scientific and Technical Research

Oral Answers to Questions — Duchy of Lancaster – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29 March 1993.

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Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins , Blackpool South 12:00, 29 March 1993

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what his Department's total spending on supporting scientific and technical research projects was in 1991–92.

Photo of Mr William Waldegrave Mr William Waldegrave , Bristol West

The science budget in 1991–92 was £930 million.

Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins , Blackpool South

In thanking my right hon. Friend for that answer, may I ask him to join me in welcoming the fact that some £30 million from his Department's budget is being spent via the Natural Environment Research Council on developing models for dealing with flooding problems in coastal areas? That research will be of enormous benefit to my constituents and will help in the design of new sea defences to cope with our flooding problems. It will also be of benefit to other right hon. and hon. Members who represent coastal constituencies.

Photo of Mr William Waldegrave Mr William Waldegrave , Bristol West

My hon. Friend is entirely right. Given the very large sums that have to be spent on coastal defences, it is vital that good basic science underlies it. I am sure that the House is proud of that work by the NERC and much of its other work.

Mr. Alan W. Williams:

Is the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster aware that in the past 10 years there has been a 30 per cent. cut in real terms in the amount devoted by Government to civil research and development? In total, between Government and industry, we devote 1 per cent. less of our GDP to research and development than do Japan and Germany. How can we compete industrially with those industrial super-powers when we devote so little of our resources to research and development?

Photo of Mr William Waldegrave Mr William Waldegrave , Bristol West

The hon. Gentleman is wrong if he is talking about Government spending in relation to civil research. The United Kingdom spends about 0·51 per cent. of GDP compared with 0·43 per cent. in Japan. We are in the middle of the pack of the G7 countries in relation to Government expenditure on civil research.