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In its report published today, the ABRC expresses its gratitude to the Secretary of State, and I do not blame it. One of the worst aspects of the Government's parsimonious record on science is the way in which the scientific community has been browbeaten into a belief that funding will--in the fashionable jargon--have to exist at a "steady state", in which the horizons and expectations of the science community have been lowered.

Set against last year's promise of real decline, this year's budget has come as a disproportionate relief.

In its May 1988 document, the ABRC reported that the United Kingdom's share of world scientific output and influence was declining. It said that this

"was largely because UK output".

of scientific endeavour, as measured by data on publications and citations,

"had remained fairly constant at a time when the world total has increased significantly."

The Secretary of State's advisory board said :

"Some countries--notably United States of America, France and West Germany- -have increased scientific output and then maintained their world share whilst Japan has markedly improved on its low share." At best, this latest budget and announcements will simply maintain the slow, relative decline in Britain's science base. The science budget is only one part of overall Government investment in research. Last February the British Medical Journal reported that "as a percentage of gross domestic product, Britain already spends less than all other countries belonging to the OECD, and is spending less as other countries spend more."

The Government are typically self-congratulatory about their record over the past 10 years, but it is a poor record compared with that of other countries.

The Government have failed to understand that if we want to keep up with other countries, let alone beat them, we must put an increasing share of gross domestic product--of national income--into science, not a static or declining share. The figures show that, taking increases in national income spent on research in 16 countries since 1978, Britain's increase is twelfth. Its increase is only half that of France and one quarter that of Japan. No wonder that an ever-growing percentage of equipment used in British science laboratories is made abroad--usually in Japan.

The wild claims of the Secretary of State contrast with the figures issued by the Cabinet Office which show that total research expenditure by civil Departments, excluding the research councils, is down from £1,004 million in the early 1980s to £933 million in 1989-90, at 1985-86 prices. They show that total civil research spending is down from £2,217 million to £2,158 million. Separate analyses from the Cabinet Office show that between 1986-87 and 1990-91 there would be a 6 per cent. decline in Government investment in civil research and development, while our gross domestic product was expected to grow by 8 per cent. The author of the BMJ article concluded that

"objective indicators show that British basic science is in decline",

and that

"most scientists whom he met considered the main cause of the decline to be the decline in government funding for research". In early March, the Government will host an international conference on the global environment. A further speech from the Prime Minister about how green she is is promised. We welcomed the sudden conversion of the Prime Minister to matters environmental and her

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stated support for basic science after years of neglect under this Government. However, like many outside organisations we are healthily sceptical about the reality of the Government's commitment to the environment, especially when it is set against the £30 million cut in the Agricultural and Food Research Council's budget, the 120 jobs shortly to be cut in the Natural Environment Research Council's projects, and the switch in research resources from Wales to the south of England.

Many involved with research into the global environment, in which there has been some improvement in investment, are sceptical about the Government's record. For example, the United Kingdom stratospheric ozone review group, in its second report, argued that Britain has failed to take advantage of the lead given by the British Antarctic Survey's discovery in 1985 of a hole in the ozone layer. It said :

"the promotion and proper resourcing of fundamental research in this area of major environmental concern has been quite inadequate." My hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell, South (Dr. Bray) will deal in more detail with research into the global environment. I shall describe the state of the paleoecology research unit at University College, London, which my hon. Friend and I visited earlier today. Its condition neatly encapsulates the imbalance and lack of strategy behind Government science policy.

The work of the unit is goal-driven, applied research about acid rain, covering the history, cause, rate and extent of lake acidification in the United Kingdom and Scandinavia. For this, the unit's officials make plain that they have been "very well funded" by the Department of the Environment, the Royal Society and the NERC, with total support in excess of £1 million.

However, in parallel with the increase in applied research funding, the unit says :

"the pure research base required to develop basic techniques for the future has all but disappeared There has been a continued cutting away of infrastructure, especially of technical staff." It is exceptionally difficult to keep highly motivated and highly skilled research staff together when such staff have such incredible insecurity. Only one person-- the director of the unit, Dr. Rick Batterbee--has security of tenure. It goes on to say that

"the availability of such staff is the only means of servicing applied research problems."

The unit goes on to say that

"it is utterly demoralising to be faced year after year with internal cuts and savings targets."

Most serious of all, no one in this unit is now engaged on curiosity-led pure research to develop new techniques for the applied research of the future. [Interruption.] I think that the Secretary of State is muttering that the purpose of this unit is to do applied research. Yes, but it could not be doing applied research today unless the same people had done pure research yesterday, and it now has nobody to do the pure research into new techniques for measuring, for example, acidification in lakes by which we may find some solution to the problem of acid rain for the future.

Moreover, the income generated by contracts, by applied research, is now having to be used to subsidise teaching and other basic running costs of the institution. This undermining of the basis of pure science research arises partly from the increased calls on the science budget, the switch towards applied reseach--the switch, for example, to research into the global environment and into

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AIDS, which has to be paid for out of the science budget--and from the fact that relative price inflation is higher in high-tech areas than in the general economy. But it arises also from the squeeze in the core funding of universities--something that the Secretary of State never takes into account when he congratulates himself on the general increase in funding in the science budget, through the squeeze on the dual funding system, which is supposed to support the laboratories, equipment, technicians and core academic staff of our science base.

This year's public expenditure White Paper announced, in paragraph 42, that the Government now intend to pursue in, the university sector,

"a separation between funding for teaching and funding for research".

The Government have also announced some interdisciplinary research centres and has encouraged the University Grants Committee to pursue subject-based reviews such as the Edwards review on physics and the Stone report on chemistry, with the consequence that some universities may end up with neither chemistry nor physics departments.

Two years ago the ABRC published recommendations for a strategy for science, which gave one view--its view--about the future course of science policy, including the controversial recommendations for the categorisation of universities into research, teaching, and research and teaching institutions. A response from the Government--their own policy for science- -was promised by the Secretary of State last year. That is what he told us in the debate on 29 February. Even as late as November he was telling his Cabinet colleagues that the document would be published at the end of last year. Now the public expenditure White Paper tells us that it is not expected to be published at least until the summer.

I ask the Secretary of State to give the reason for this delay. Is it, as I understand it, because of a serious conflict between the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State over the direction of science policy?

Mr. Derek Fatchett (Leeds, Central) : He has not won that one yet.

Mr. Straw : My hon. Friend says that he has not won one yet. The conflicts between him and the Prime Minister and her policy unit are notorious.

If that is not the reason for the delay, what accounts for the extraordinary limbo in which science strategy now finds itself? Why has the Secretary of State broken the undertaking that he gave to this House last year to publish a policy for science during the course of 1988?

The Secretary of State must not delude himself about the state of our universities. When the head of a well-funded research unit like the one at University College London spoke of a situation being utterly demoralising he spoke for the whole of the university community. Many good academics are simply voting with their feet, as are many recruits. There is a brain drain. Of course we accept that that is difficult to quantify, but the study published by the Royal Society and the Fellowship of Science and Engineering Policy Studies Unit in 1987 on the migration of scientists and engineers to and from the United Kingdom said that, although quantitatively there were similar flows across the Atlantic, qualitatively the

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picture was very different. The net loss of talent was regarded as having an adverse effect on British research, particularly in universities.

If the Secretary of State requires more evidence, let me quote from the New York Times, which on 22 November published a major article entitled

"British Brain Drain Enriches U.S. Colleges".

It said :

"In the last five years perhaps 200 British professors, driven by hard times in the British higher education system and enticed by irresistible financial and scholarly opportunities in the United States, have weathered the pain of moving themselves and their families across an ocean and settling in a strange terrain. The British brain drain began early this decade but has become a hemorrhage in the last five years, and many of the emigrants blame the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's Government for the exodus." The author goes on to say :

"They are part of a migration that may be the largest single influx into this country from a single source since Jewish professors were forced to leave Germany and Austria in the 1930's."

The article quotes David Cannadine, a Cambridge historian, who went to Columbia university in September. [Interruption.] The Under- Secretary seeks to trivialise the brain drain by saying that that man had an American wife.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Robert Jackson) : He has an American wife

Mr. Straw : The Under-Secretary seeks to trivialise the brain drain by saying that he has an American wife. Yes, he does have an American wife, and since the Under-Secretary of State raises that matter I should say that for five years Mr. Cannadine carried on at the University of Cambridge trying to maintain his scholarship and his interest at that university, and he will say, as will many others, that he has been forced to leave because of lack of opportunity in this country. What the Under-Secretary needs to do is not just to make cheap remarks like that but to look to the reality of the brain drain and a serious shift of people of quality across the Atlantic. If the hon. Gentleman does not believe that, let him look at the figures for vacancies for professorial posts. Recent studies, including one by the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, reported that 36 per cent. of key professorial posts were vacant. Moreover, there are many anecdotes from heads of institutions to suggest that, whilst in the end they accept what is offered, the quality of many people appointed to senior posts is significantly lower than they would have wished.

All that is confirmed by the Secretary of State's own adviser, Sir David Phillips, who said that Great Britain contributes more scientists and engineers to the United States' technical work force than almost all other European countries put together, and by Sir George Porter, who, in his lecture last year, said :

"We are particularly well-endowed with such bright young people in this country and their loss is the saddest and most deplorable result of the philosophy of the present time"

of this Government. We recall that only eight months ago Sir George Porter said :

"The most tangible evidence of third-word science is the early preparation and export of outstanding scientists and of the production of scientific works."

Sir George added :

"We in this country seem well prepared to join the third world of science."

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Mr. Spencer Batiste (Elmet) : Does the hon. Gentleman agree that one of the most important incentives to remain in Britain is a low tax rate comparable to that of other countries? If he seeks to redress the brain drain that he describes, will he support further reductions in tax in Britain?

Mr. Straw : Most British academics are so poorly paid that they do not get into the higher tax brackets. Moreover, what has happened to the brain deain in this decade is proof, if ever it were needed, that relative tax rates have nothing to do with the flight from British universities to the United States. As the tax rates have gone up, the flight from this country has increased. [Interruption.] If there is any correlation, it is the reverse.

Central to the problem of recruiting and retaining the best is the issue not of tax rates but of university pay. On simple grounds of national self- interest, let alone the clearest grounds of justice, university teachers have an overwhelming case. Every other group of university employees and every other public sector group has had a pay rise in 1988-89 but not university academics. The consequence is that their pay lags 20 per cent. behind their comparators. The Financial Times reported today, however, that the Government were likely to reject the claim from the Association of University Teachers and the call from the union and the Committee of Vice- Chancellors and Principals for further funding. Will the Government let the claim fester, or will they take action to settle it? If the Government's record on funding academic science is so wonderful, why are our science- based universities unable to find the minimum funds to pay the increase which they accept is necessary? Without a supply of well qualified science students, this country will slip into that third world of science of which Sir George Porter spoke so eloquently. Once again the Secretary of State's attitude to science in the curriculum and to the supply of science teachers is complacent neglect. Of course, we know what he will say. What matters is what he does or has not done. He has rejected the advice of his own expert science working party. He has downgraded science in the national curriculum. He has created a two-tiered science curriculum which, for those following single science, will snuff out the chance of a scientific-based education and training beyond 16. By rejecting the broadening of A levels, as recommended by his committee under Professor Higginson, he has snuffed out the chance of many more students taking science at a higher level.

The Association for Science Education was correct in saying that the Secretary of State's proposals for two-tier science would cut off significant numbers of students from science-related jobs and undermine our competitiveness even further.

Worse, the Secretary of State is downgrading science in schools for the least acceptable reason : that there are growing shortages of teachers. He is unwilling to take effective measures, such as paying teachers more, to deal with the shortages.

Mr. Ian Taylor (Esher) : On the requirement of finding teachers in these disciplines, will the hon. Gentleman add that regional pay negotiations should be paramount?

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Mr. Straw : The hon. Gentleman should read the recommendations of the interim advisory committee last year which, in discussing the problems of subject shortages, ruled that out.

The wastage of teachers is chilling. Three out of 10 people who qualify fail to enter teaching in the following year ; four in 10 who enter teaching leave within five years. Even on the Secretary of State's wildly optimistic assessment of teacher shortages, by 1995 there will be a 5 per cent. shortfall of mathematics teachers, a 14 per cent. shortfall of physics teachers and an 18 per cent. shortfall of chemistry teachers. The Secretary of State knows that the shortages exist. That is why he has insulated his favoured city technology colleges by allowing their teachers to be paid more than they would get elsewhere in the local authority sector, but he has prevented any general increase in teachers' pay beyond the rate of inflation by the cash limit which he has imposed upon the recommendations of the interim advisory committee.

We have to add to the teacher shortages, which will deny many children a decent education, and to the underfunding of academic pay the prospect of student loans. They will plainly deter students from following the rigour and uncertainty of an academic career in favour of the richer rewards of the City or accountancy.

As a highly developed nation we should have the wit to allow the pursuit of science for its own sake because knowledge and education are good and because so many scientific advances with direct application today have been derived from scientists being permitted the space and time to follow a hunch. DNA, electricity, X-rays, penicillin, nuclear energy, radio and television, electronics, photography, sound recording, quantum mechanics, transistors, super conductors and lasers were all discovered unexpectedly, sometimes by accident, by scientists engaged in pure research.

It is on the foundation of pure research and of basic science that applied research development has to be built. At the turn of the year the deputy chief executive of British Aerospace said that there has to be a major decline in research and development to stop the decline in medium and low technology business ; the Financial Times has complained of a declining science base ; the head of venture research in BP has proclaimed that in today's world stagnation in science investment can only lead to oblivion. Einstein wrote in 1936 : "Intellectual decline brought on by a shallow materalism is a far greater menace to the survival of a society than numerous external foes who threaten its existence with violence."

There is no materialism more shallow than that of the Governmment or the Secretary of State. The Government's science policy, in so far as they have one, is for stagnation. We do not need stagnation ; we need imagination. We do not need shallow materialism ; we need vision. Above all, we need a comprehension that we will have a decent future tomorrow only if we invest in it today.

7.44 pm

The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Kenneth Baker) : I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof :

"applauds the steps taken by the Government to sustain and improve still further the strength and quality of science in the United Kingdom, noting in particular : the inclusion of science as part of the new national curriculum, measures to

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improve the supply of science teachers in schools, recent evidence that eminent scientists are returning to this country, the 26 per cent. real terms increase in the science budget since 1979, and the allocation of extra funds for research to tackle problems of the global environment, to improve the quality of life and to underpin the technological competitiveness of British industry."

It is a supreme irony that the Opposition should have chosen to debate the support for science and scientific research on the very day, planned some time ago, when I have announced the allocation of an extra £300 million to the research councils and other bodies. In the two years in which I have been responsible for this part of the expenditure of my Department I have always announced the allocation in the first fortnight of February. Today happens to be in the first fortnight of February. To begin to mount his attack upon our policy on that basis set the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) off on the wrong foot straight away. When I interrupted him, his arguments did not improve. They remained pettifogging, pedantic and puerile. What I announced bears repeating. The science budget in 1989-90 will be £115 million, or 16 per cent. higher than it is this year. Since the Government came into office, they have increased the science budget by over 26 per cent. in real terms. These are very substantial sums of money. It is this record that the Opposition are attacking. When they were last in office, between 1975-76 and 1979-80, they did not increase the science budget in real terms by a single penny. Yet we have had the attack which the hon. Member for Blackburn has launched on us.

As hon. Members know, I depend upon the Advisory Board for the Research Councils for advice on the size, composition and allocation of the resources announced today. The ABRC is chaired by Sir David Phillips, to whom the hon. Gentleman referred. He is an eminent scientist in his own right in cell research and, like the whole board, is well known for taking an independent view. Sir David reported the board's view to me in the following terms :

"We were delighted by the substantial increases in the Government's plans for the Science Budget and greatly encouraged by what you had to say about the importance to the nation of maintaining excellence in basic and strategic science."

He also said :

"This year's PES settlement provides an excellent foundation for the development of UK science."

Others too have commented favourably. Even Professor Noble of Save British Science expressed his agreement with the board's view that the extra money would do much to raise morale in the scientific community.

Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark and Bermondsey) : If the commitment is so profound, will the Secretary of State explain why, for the following two years, there is a real reduction in the budget in the Government's expenditure figures produced only weeks ago?

Mr. Baker : I expected that question because I got it at the press conference this morning. The simple answer is that I was asked to increase, as I have done, the actual science budget by some £350 million over the next three years. I have increased the base. I will receive further advice on the requirements for the next two years. I will receive additional advice from the ABRC and others. The hon. Gentleman knows very well that various proposals

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will be put to me and that I shall put them to my colleagues. He must wait to see in a year's time how well I fare. I assure him that the commitment of the Government is absolute and complete. This is a tremendous increase in real terms in the amount of money. That leads me to another point. The hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) is falling into the mistake which the Opposition Front Bench always makes. The Opposition are preoccupied with input. Their reaction is that we only get good science by putting in more and more money. They are considering the input all the time. I have said already that we recognie that we have to have a substantial investment in the scientific base for laboratories, equipment and the retention of good research. I shall come to the brain drain later.

Mr. David Nicholson (Taunton) : On the subject of inputs, has my right hon. Friend noticed that on this Opposition Supply day, on a subject on which the Opposition presumably place a great deal of importance, there are no more than eight Labour Back Benchers present in the Chamber plus one Liberal, and they are almost outnumbered by those on the Opposition Front Bench?

Mr. Baker : It shows their fleeting and transitory interest in this matter.

I would like to deal not just with the inputs but with what all this money is buying, because I have to justify this expenditure against competing expenditure claims from other Departments. I remind the House of some of the outstanding scientific achievements over the last few years. The Science and Engineering Research Council, in its work in astronomy, leads the world. Its superb new telescopes--a millimetre wave telescope in Hawaii and an optical telescope in La Palma--are now probing deeper and deeper into space. United Kingdom particle physicists, supported by SERC, contributed to the discovery of the W and Z bosons in 1983, which established the unification of two of the fundamental forces of nature. This is absolutely world-lead science into particle physics and into physics itself, which is often called the queen of sciences.

Then there is nuclear magnetic resonance, and the House will know of the success we have had in this area and of the outstanding work that has been done in our laboratories. The Oxford enzyme group has developed high field spectrometers in collaboration with Oxford Instruments, and Oxford Instruments has been able to capture a large proportion of the world markets for high field magnets required for commercial NMR machines.

When I visited Nottingham university a few weeks ago I was told that Nottingham and Aberdeen universities both get £1 million a year from their royalties on earnings as a result of NMR research. Our scientists at Cambridge--this is probably one of the most significant break-throughs-- have over the past five years done pioneering work on protein engineering, resulting in the successful design of novel proteins. I am advised that they have enormous potential implications for new forms of therapy as well as for non-medical applications. Can I say how this extra money is going to be spent? The first requirement I see for this fund is that there should be concentration on basic and strategic science. Near market research should be funded more and more by the private sector. My concern is with the science base, with

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the excellence of science which produces that sort of breakthrough, world-lead science. To talk in terms of British science being in the second division is absolutely absurd ; in area after area it is not. To reinforce the science base I have allocated a further £49 million to the new interdisciplinary research centres over the next three years. This will increase the number of IRCs to 17, covering areas of science such as high temperature super-conductivity, animal genome research and surface science.

Mr. Straw : It was Sir George Porter, the president of the Royal Society, who said that British science was slipping into the third world. Is the Secretary of State describing Sir George Porter's claim as absurd?

Mr. Baker : I said that there was a danger of that happening. I actually think that there is little danger of this happening because of the excellence one sees in British science. When I visit other countries--and I will come back to the brain drain in a moment--the attraction of research units in this country is very considerable and is pulling back a lot of people from other countries. I will come back to that later.

Can I stress the importance of the initial "I" of "IRC". What is striking about research now is that when I go round medical laboratories I find not only doctors doing research ; I find a whole range of disciplines : geneticists, molecular biologists, physicists, research chemists and psychologists. Much of today's research only hangs together because of its interdisciplinary nature.

It is also necessary to exploit in full the many new and existing scientific opportunities to which the ABRC has drawn attention. I am providing over £85 million over three years to key directed programmes for research recommended by the board. They include, for example, the search for the constituent elements of the human genome. This is the genetic chain which will unravel the genetic mysteries of life. Secondly, they include a major international programme to study the influence of the oceans on world climate. These programmes touch all our lives in one way or another.

I have been especially concerned to increase the funding of basic curiosity -driven research. Such work is absolutely fundamental, because when investing in scientific research we cannot know with any certainty whether it will be successful. We have to provide a background : a sufficient number of laboratories, institutions and teams of people to draw upon. However, no one can ever be sure which group will make the breakthrough. Therefore, in the money I have announced today, I am glad to say that we have restarted the Royal Society's small grants scheme, which will help in funding individual small projects, and we are funding a 25 per cent. increase in the Royal Society's research fellowship schemes, which support some of our outstanding and particularly young scientists, people in their late 20s and early 30s. In addition, we are increasing the number of research studentships which the three research councils, AFRC, MRC and SERC, can award.

The Government is earmarking new money--and the hon. Gentleman pushed this aside--for major national programmes, such as research to deal with the scourge of AIDS. This is additional money. I have also earmarked money to support the particle physics work at CERN in Switzerland.

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The allocation allows for the reorganisation of the research council institutes themselves. They have been pressing these plans for some time, and I have allocated £37 million over the next three years.

I would now like to come to the global environment and research on oceans and climate. The funds which I have allocated today represent a very substantial increase indeed in global environment research. Britain is making an outstanding contribution to this. We have a unit called the British Antarctic Survey, which is in the forefront of world science. It was this group of scientists, operating from the Antarctic bases, which identified the hole in the ozone layer in 1985-86. As a result of this, we have decided to build upon this work. The House will know that last year I invested in the new ship, the "James Clark Ross." This year there will be a new gravel airstrip and a larger aircraft to take the scientists out to the ice floes of Antarctica. Britain is making a significant world contribution. We should all recognise, as I am sure Labour Members do, how outstanding this work is.

I have said that I am providing extra funds for the survey this year, but the range of global environmental research goes beyond Antarctica. It covers truly global matters : atmospheric circulation, the movement of the oceans around the world, the water cycle, the chemical fluxes. All of these different matters are covered. It also covers more local and regional phenomena such as acid rain, deforestation, pollution of regional seas and soil infertility and erosion.

I emphasise the international nature of this. One cannot do this sort of research alone. This country is involved in one group after another. First, there is the universities global atmospheric project, which is developing global climate models. I apologise to the House for these long, technical titles, but they do actually describe the work rather well. Next, there is the biochemical ocean flux study. This study is examining the transfer of carbon from the atmosphere, the excessive amount of carbon in the atmosphere which is causing the greenhouse effect. It is transferred through the surface of the sea into the various organisms, which put on body weight and then die and drop to the seabed. This is a process of transferring carbon from the atmosphere to the seabed. We simply do not know enough about this process. I have explained it in very broad terms. I have to explain it in terms that even Opposition Members will understand. This is a major study of course, involving, other countries.

Then there is the world ocean circulation experiment. Again, that is connected with the world climate research programme. Then there is the ocean drilling project, which NERC is involved in. All of these are major international projects.

Mr. Jim Cousins (Newcastle upon Tyne, Central) : The weak point of the Minister's argument is the connection between the matters to which he is referring and actual technological application. Most of the nuclear magnetic resonance machinery in our hospitals is imported from America. Will the Secretary of State assure the House that at least the order for the ship which he is proposing to commission for the British Antarctic Survey will be placed in a British shipyard?

Mr. Baker : That is for the NERC to decide. I understand that it is assessing bids for that order at the moment. I wish that the hon. Gentleman would not put

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down the British scientific instruments industry, as quite a lot of NMR magnets are made in Britain. Perhaps he should talk about those a bit more instead of trying to say that equipment is always imported. We have a strong scientific instrument industry, although inevitably there is a considerable amount of international research. The hon. Member for Blackburn made great play of the brain drain. He said that there is a substantial flow of bright, intelligent scientists away from Britain. The Royal Society report last year found it difficult to show that there was very much of a brain drain. Indeed, the Financial Times, which follows such matters very closely, called it a brain trickle.

Only last week, the chairman of the University Grants Committee, Sir Peter Swinnerton-Dyer, who has been conducting a large survey on earth sciences, said that in earth sciences alone he has been notified that 13 senior ex- patriots--seven of professorial rank--are coming back to Britain this year. The chairman of the Scientific Engineering Research Council, Professor Mitchell, sent me a list of some 16 senior research scientists--11 of whom are professors--who are coming back to Britain this year. Therefore, some quality scientists are coming back. One would expect that because the base is interesting and there is an attractive climate for scientific research in Britain.

It is not just a question of British scientists coming back to Britain ; many overseas scientists wish to work here. Only this morning I was at a presentation of awards ceremony and I met a young American petroleum scientist who is working at Heriot Watt university. He explained to us why he was here. He had been offered a job by Texas university but he refused and chose Heriot Watt on the strength of the scientific base of that very good university and its particular strength in petroleum sciences. Therefore, the picture is much rounder than the impression given by the hon. Member for Blackburn. There is a flow both ways. What I find so attractive about the reports from the research councils is the fact that people of quality are now coming back. That is very important.

I shall now reply to some of the other points raised by the hon. Member for Blackburn. He asked me to reply to the ABRC document. His article in The Times yesterday summarised his speech rather well. Indeed, it was rather better than his speech. It gave me an idea of what he was going to say and it was an interesting article. I wonder whether as a result of writing an article in The Times the hon. Gentleman will resign or leave the Opposition Front Bench. Last week, the hon. Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell) was sacked within 24 hours of working for Mr. Rupert Murdoch's televison station. But apparently members of the Shadow Cabinet do not have to leave if they write for Mr. Murdoch's newspaper. That is an example of the inconsistency in the behaviour and practices of the Opposition. In answer to some of the hon. Gentleman's specific points about the way forward, I have already dealt with several of the matters that the ABRC's strategic advice document asked me to deal with last year. It asked for greater funds and we have provided that this year in the £300 million that I announced today. It also asked for greater selectivity in research so that it could concentrate money on some of the better units. It recommended

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