Science Research Council

Oral Answers to Questions — Duchy of Lancaster – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st November 1994.

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Photo of Mrs Anne Campbell Mrs Anne Campbell , Cambridge 12:00 am, 21st November 1994

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what changes he expects in the Science Research Council's administrative staffing over the next two years.

Mr. Robert G. Hughes:

Government policy is to reduce the administrative costs of research councils to the minimum level required for them to be efficient and effective, so that as much money as possible goes into science.

Photo of Mrs Anne Campbell Mrs Anne Campbell , Cambridge

Will the Parliamentary Secretary confirm that he intends to approve Sir John Cadogan's plans to reduce the administrative staffing of the research councils by around 500 people? Will he also tell us how much that will add to the £16 million that the research councils have already spent on past restructuring and early retirement? How much more money will be spent on top of that?

Mr. Hughes:

No decisions have been reached and therefore the first part of the hon. Lady's question does not arise, as she well knows. The fact is that in the 1994 "Forward Look", we explained that the director general of research councils had embarked on a fundamental review. I would have thought that anybody sensible, indeed most people in science to whom I have spoken, would believe that it is important that we direct money towards science and not towards unnecessary administration. Expenditure on administration to ensure that we get the best value for money is, of course, not unnecessary.

Photo of Mr David Shaw Mr David Shaw , Dover

When considering how to direct more money into science research, will my hon. Friend consider promoting the information super-highway in the way that he did this morning at the excellent conference that he launched? Will he also consider the fact that Britain leads in that area of technology? Will he accept my congratulations on the Government making more information available on a world-wide web server called "open.gov"? Will he also congratulate Walmer school in my constituency which went on to the information super-highway this morning and connected with a school in the United States of America?

Mr. Hughes:

The answer is yes to each of my hon. Friend's questions and I thank him for his kind remarks. The information super-highway and the Government's use of the Internet provide exciting opportunities for delivering public services better. We take that seriously and that is why the experiment which was started only a month ago, and which has already been accessed by more than 100,000 people, will expand and more information will be placed on it. We will use it in the best possible manner to improve public services.