Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:52 am on 1st April 2008.

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Photo of Graham Stringer Graham Stringer Labour, Manchester, Blackley 11:52 am, 1st April 2008

I add my congratulations to those that have been given to my hon. Friend Mr. Hall, both for his steadfast support for the project and for bringing the debate to the House. As a member of the hideously named DIUS Select Committee I attended the Daresbury site earlier in the year. We found a demoralised scientific work force who were in despair as to whether the fourth generation light source would arrive. They believed that the world class library on which the fundamental research depended was going to close. They were in doubt about the future of ALICE and suffered further doubt on the basis that if ALICE goes EMMA goes. EMMA is the electron model for many applications for which ALICE is the particle source. That, in essence, is the bulk of the fundamental research that goes on at the site.

My hon. Friend Mrs. Ellman mentioned the fact that only 3 per cent. of fundamental research goes on outside universities and outside the south-east; obviously, quite a lot goes on in universities. Most of that research is on the Daresbury site. The site will continue, and excellent science and technology will continue there, because of its applications and because computer modelling will go on. It is a great site. The real question for the Minister is whether fundamental science will go on, and whether Daresbury will be the one site outside the golden triangle of Oxford, Cambridge and London that will continue. If that is to happen, all the projects that I mentioned—ALICE, the library and the fourth generation light source—must continue there. From the information that I have had, I have doubts about whether that will happen.

Do the Government have a regional policy for science? Are they concerned about the dreadful figures? If they do have such a regional policy, what mechanisms will they use to ensure that the scientific community and the Science and Technology Facilities Council invest in the north of England? If the Government do not use their muscle and say, "We must have science at this site," what Dr. Pugh generously called the culture that pushes fundamental research into the golden triangle will continue. I do not think that it is culture. I think it is southern bigotry, and it should be taken on. What is the role of a Labour Government if it is not to say something when huge resources are being allocated throughout the country, with implications, as my hon. Friends have said, not only for how the relevant research is conducted, but for its relationship with the growth of the economy and education in the region?