WEDNESDAY 24 MAY 2000
  
                               _________
  
                           Members present:
              Dr Michael Clark, in the Chair
              Mr Paddy Ashdown
              Mrs Claire Curtis-Thomas
              Dr Ian Gibson
              Dr Brian Iddon
              Mr Robert Jackson
              Dr Ashok Kumar
              Dr Desmond Turner
              Dr Alan W Williams
  
                               _________
  
           MEMORANDUM FROM DEPARTMENT OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY
                       EXAMINATION OF WITNESSES
  
                 THE LORD SAINSBURY OF TURVILLE, a Member of the House of Lords,
           appearing by leave of that House, Minister for Science, Department
           of Trade and Industry, and DR JOHN TAYLOR, Director General of the
           Research Councils, examined.
        Chairman:   Lord Sainsbury, Dr Taylor, thank you very much for coming
  before this Select Committee once again.  Lord Sainsbury, although we have had
  the pleasure of your company in the past I do not think we have spoken to you
  formally about the subject of the synchrotron although Dr Taylor has been with
  the Secretary of State to talk about the synchrotron before the decision was
  made and the announcement became public.  The Committee have decided that
  after the decision was made they could learn something about the machinery of
  government decision making by inviting you to come before us this afternoon,
  and it is in that context that the Committee have got various questions that
  they would like to put.  As usual, of course, Lord Sainsbury, we shall direct
  our questions to you as the Minister.  If you wish to invite Dr Taylor to
  comment, or indeed to field the question, that is quite all right by us. 
  Also, Dr Taylor, if there is something you wish to add, if you would catch my
  eye I shall certainly call you so that you can make your comment.  With that
  I would now like to ask Mrs Claire Curtis-Thomas to put the first question.
  
                           Mrs Curtis-Thomas
        125.     Dr Dexter, the Director of the Wellcome Trust, told us that
  the original proposal for the synchrotron to be located at RAL was made by the
  Office of Science and Technology as early as April and May 1999, and that it
  was the OST which persuaded the Trust that locating the synchrotron at RAL was
  the best way forward.  As the ADD report was not published until June 1999,
  on what basis did the OST reach these conclusions in April 1999?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   That is not my impression of the
  sequence of events.  The sequence of events is that early in 1999 the Wellcome
  Trust had said they wanted a competition.  We did not think that was right for
  reasons we can go into if you like.  The issue at that point was apart but we
  said we thought there were only two possible sites for this to go.  One was
  at Daresbury and the other was at RAL.  The OST commissioned the investment
  appraisal of the two sites at that point.  It was only when we got the ADD
  report in June that I think any firm view was taken by the OST that as a whole
  RAL seemed to be the right direction to go.  They may have raised the subject
  of RAL as the only other possible site before that date.
  
                              Dr Williams
        126.     Could I come in with something I have read three or four
  times?  I have got an article here from The Guardian of 11 April.  What it
  says is this, quoting a letter from Michael Dexter to local authorities
  Warrington and Halton Borough Councils.  He says that the Government's Office
  of Science and Technology had persuaded him to support the Oxfordshire site
  at a meeting in April last year.  He goes on to say that Government persuaded
  them that locating the synchrotron was the best way forward and that they
  agreed to this in June last year.  That is from Mr Dexter and I have read it
  in three or four other sources over the months.  This is a letter in April to
  the local authorities where he says that he was invited to OST in April last
  year and that the idea of going to Oxford came from the OST and that he was
  persuaded of that.
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   As you read it out it is that it was in
  June that the -----
        127.     The decision was taken.
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   That this was when it took place.  If
  you read carefully what you read out you will see that what he said was that
  he was persuaded that this was the best way forward.  The position we had
  reached at that stage was that Wellcome had said that they did not think that
  Daresbury was necessarily the right site and wanted a competition.  We said
  we did not think that a competition was right, that on balance we thought RAL
  was the right situation, and therefore what he said was that they were
  persuaded that that was "the best way forward", and that probably is the right
  way to put it, given that there were no other options.
        128.     In the words that you used there you seem to indicate that
  the first doubts about Daresbury came from Wellcome.  That is not the
  impression that I get at all from my reading of this but that at Wellcome
  everybody had assumed that it would be Daresbury and that the first suggestion
  here in April of last year was from OST.
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   That, I am afraid, is not correct.  I
  had originally assumed, as I think everyone else had, that it would go to
  Daresbury.  We were proceeding on that basis and it was the Wellcome Trust who
  made it very clear that they thought that was not the right way to proceed and
  that we must do an exercise to look at other sites, and it was on that basis
  that we had the discussion about whether we should have a competition or not.
  
                               Dr Turner
        129.     Clearly the Wellcome Trust were setting out a position of
  unhappiness with Daresbury before the decision making process really started. 
  Can you enlarge on Wellcome's reasons for this?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   I think their position was that they
  believed that it should not be right automatically to accept the idea that the
  synchrotron should be put at Daresbury, and therefore there should be a
  competition to look at alternative sites.
        130.     Are you saying that they were not antipathetic to its
  location at Daresbury per se, but were as it were site neutral?  Is that it?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   I think it is difficult to say whether
  they were site neutral or that they had picked up certain concerns from
  scientists about the management of the Daresbury site.  I do not think it was
  more than that at that point.  They then of course did their own very
  substantial amount of work on this and went on a number of trips abroad and
  consulted with synchrotron users elsewhere and I think that may have
  reinforced their view that there should be a general review of possible sites.
  
                               Dr Iddon
        131.     I think it is important to dwell on this a little longer.  I
  have a letter here which is the letter just referred to dated 3 April 2000
  from T Michael Dexter, FRS, the Director of the Wellcome Trust, and addressed
  to both the leaders of Halton Borough Council and Warrington Borough Council,
  and I will quote one paragraph in detail and then selectively quote from the
  rest of the letter.  The second paragraph says:  "As you might already know,
  when the Wellcome Trust first discussed the location of the synchrotron with
  officials from the Office of Science and Technology (OST) in January 1999, we
  suggested holding an open competition to determine the site.  Initially they
  agreed to our suggestion but later proposed (April 1999) that the synchrotron
  be located at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL).  Prior to the OST's
  recommendation for RAL, we had not seriously considered any locations. 
  Government persuaded us that locating the synchrotron at RAL was the best way
  forward and we agreed to this (June 1999) in order to prevent any further
  delays to the synchrotron project."  Elsewhere in the letter it says, and I
  highlighted this yesterday:  "The suggestion that we" - that is, the Wellcome
  Trust - "have unduly influenced the site decision is not true ..."  Further
  on in the letter:  "... our main dealings with government have been primarily
  with officials from the OST and the DTI", and even further on in the letter: 
  "Once again, I would like to stress that it was not a Wellcome Trust decision
  to limit the choice of sites.  The RAL option was originally a government
  proposal."  Then again further on in the letter, at the end of one sentence
  it says, and I continue the sentence, "... and did not agree that RAL and the
  Daresbury Laboratory were the only options."  In other words, Chairman, I see
  from this letter, and I am willing to show Lord Sainsbury this letter in case
  he has not seen it, that Wellcome did appear to have an open mind at the
  beginning, wanted to have an open competition, but seem to have been persuaded
  by Government agencies that RAL was the only site.  Those of us who represent
  north west constituencies like myself firmly believe that after those dates
  that I have mentioned here there was a decision to be made between Daresbury
  and RAL but clearly this letter indicates that Government had already pre-
  disposed the decision to RAL and that really Daresbury were wasting their time
  by lobbying north west MPs or lobbying anybody.  The decision had already been
  taken in Government circles.  That is the way I saw it.
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   There are two points.  One is that what
  that letter of Mike Dexter says very clearly, and I do not think it is in
  conflict with what I have said here, is that their original view was strongly
  that they wanted to have a competition.  On this particular point Dr Taylor
  did consult me because it was clearly an important point.  I frankly thought
  at that point (because we were at that point only considering one site, which
  was the Daresbury site) that to have a competition was in the circumstances
  a complete waste of time and money.  The reason for holding that view was that
  it seemed to me difficult to conceive how any other site would not be much
  more expensive to develop, given, among other things, that you would have the
  costs of running down the Daresbury site.  At no point at this stage had
  anyone mentioned the RAL site.  The second point is that siting a synchrotron
  somewhere is not an easy and simple task to assess.  It clearly involves a
  great deal of work.  We thought in a situation where there was a very obvious
  place to put the site that it was wrong to ask a lot of people to put
  proposals in which would involve a lot of work of a serious nature and serious
  costs if in fact it was very unlikely they would do so.  There was a
  disagreement between ourselves and Wellcome on this particular point.  If the
  question is, did we restrict the choice to the two sites, the answer is yes. 
  That was a decision, that it was not sensible to look at other sites, and if
  anyone makes the case that there was another site, I am perfectly prepared to
  say that we made a mistake in cutting it off but it seems to me even now that
  it was right to restrict it to two sites.  We then did the work and the view
  was formed by the OST that the RAL site was the right one.  At the same time
  Wellcome also formed the view that this was the right site and took it to the
  trustees and in July of last year Dr Taylor, as was appropriate and right in
  these situations, came to me, having done the work, with a recommendation that
  it should be put at RAL.  At that point it was not at all clear to either
  myself or the Secretary of State that that was necessarily the right thing to
  do, and we therefore took steps to have more work done on it and have further
  consultations before we arrived at a final decision.  I think you must make
  a clear distinction between the action of the officials in arriving at what
  they thought was the right scientific decision, and bringing it to myself and
  the Secretary of State to take the final decision on it.
        132.     I was under the impression that the Secretary of State as
  recently as the beginning of this year was still in favour of the Daresbury
  site.  What was it that persuaded the politicians otherwise and who took the
  final decision, Lord Sainsbury?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   Basically the decision by Dr Taylor was
  taken in July and he came with a recommendation to me in July of last year. 
  For another reason it did not get a lot of serious attention until we came
  back in September.  We then had a series of further discussions on Wellcome
  to try and be clear exactly what their views were and, secondly, it was the
  view of the Secretary of State and myself that we needed to have further work
  done.  A particular consideration in that was that we had had a very large
  number of letters from senior scientists about their view about the machine
  being likely to be located at Daresbury.  Some of those I thought were based
  on misconceptions.  People thought that if it went to any other site there
  would automatically be a dark period.  People thought that he was absolutely
  clear that it would be more expensive to put it at RAL, which again is not
  correct.  In view of the fact that we had had a large number of letters it
  seemed extremely important to be clear about what was the view of the user
  community.  The question had also been raised by Wellcome that it was their
  view that there might be serious difficulties if we built a larger machine and
  located it at the Daresbury site.  It seemed to both the Secretary of State
  and myself that we needed to be absolutely clear about both those two issues,
  and that is why we asked for a further consultation with the users, which was
  on a very clear basis of those who had most interest from a user point of view
  in this, in a situation where they could make their views known and have a
  proper discussion on it, and equally we asked for a proper site comparison to
  be made of both sites.  That was then fed into our decisions.
        133.     I did ask who made the final decision.  Behind that question
  was: did it go up to the Prime Minister for a final determination?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   The Secretary of State and I obviously
  discussed it a great deal.  I had made my views known to him.  He took the
  decision and then it was subsequently agreed by the Prime Minister himself.
  
                               Dr Gibson
        134.     Just to round up this area, I wanted to ask John Taylor
  through you, Lord Sainsbury, this question.  Up until the end of 1998 when Sir
  John Cadogan, your predecessor, was in office, it seemed that he and OST and
  the CCLRC and so on were all in favour of Daresbury.  Then you came into
  position in January and played a role in that.  Would you like to say briefly
  what your role was and at what defining moment did you suddenly see the light
  of Oxfordshire?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   Can I pick this up because I think it
  refers to a whole period when John Cadogan was the Director General of the
  Research Councils, and then later on when John Taylor took it over.  It is
  important to realise that from the time of the Woolfson report through to the
  time that John took over there was no decision ever made about where the site
  should be located.  It was in some way just implicitly agreed that it would
  go to Daresbury but there was never a study done which said that we would
  compare different sites.  The situation was that it was assumed that that was
  where it would go.  It has to be said that I made the same assumption, that
  it would go to Daresbury.  It was only at the point when Wellcome said, "We
  think that there should be a competition for this and that we should not
  accept the Daresbury site without any further inquiry", that we really began
  to focus on the site location as a specific issue.  Then it was obviously
  John's responsibility to pull together all the issues about specification of
  the machine, the financial background, the location and all the other issues,
  which he then did on the timescale that I gave you.
        135.     Was one of those issues Wellcome's distrust of the CCLRC's
  financial management?  There were doubts about that, were there not?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   I think there were a number of issues. 
  As you know, there have been doubts about the financial management of the
  CCLRC.  It is my view, and I think John's view also, that the way the CCLRC
  was set up and its rather unclear remit and financial planning that it was
  given, ie, was not given clear resources to do the job it was supposed to do,
  -----
        136.     When were you aware of that?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   It was a view that I formed over the
  first year that I was Minister of Science, I suppose.  I think other people
  had formed the same view, which was that while the 1993 restructuring as a
  whole had been extremely successful, the actual basis on which CCLRC was set
  up was not wholly satisfactory and that made a difficult task for the
  management of that and that is why this is an issue we will be considering
  very carefully.
        137.     It was not influential in the synchrotron siting decision? 
  It was not a factor?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   What, their views?
        138.     No, the financial management.
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   I do not think the financial management
  was a significant issue, no.
  
                              Mr Jackson
        139.     Two points, firstly on funding of the CCLRC.  The basic point
  as I understand it, and I would like the Minister to confirm this, is that
  fundamentally the problem is that this is an organisation that is funded by
  contracts and does not have any substantial body of resource under its own
  command.  That is the basic problem so far as financial management is
  concerned.  There is no question of any inefficiency or impropriety.  Can you
  confirm that?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   No.  There is an issue of financial
  control which was aired and is a matter of public record.  The issue is
  exactly as you said.  I do not think it was given a clear task in terms of the
  management of large facilities and there was no forward plan which said, "This
  is what we plan to be the facilities we will need in the 10 years going ahead
  and on that basis we will fund the CCLRC to do that work."  It was very
  unclear what the basis of long term funding was.
        140.     Chairman, I very much hope this discussion will also look
  forward as opposed to anticipating work for future historians, and I very much
  welcome what the Minister has said about looking at the future funding of
  CCLRC on a long term basis.  Because Wellcome have come in for a great deal
  of stick and criticism, could the Minister please put on record the
  Government's appreciation of the fact that this private organisation, a
  charity, is actually putting in 150 million to this important facility and
  the helpfulness of the fact that Wellcome are doing this?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   Yes, I am very willing to do that.  It
  is 110 million.  As you know, this project had been sitting on the shelf for
  some considerable time and it was their gesture in coming forward with this
  large sum of money which has enabled us to give the signal for this to go
  ahead on what is an absolutely critical facility for British science going
  ahead.  We do appreciate that a great deal.
  
                               Dr Turner
        141.     I am sure we do appreciate the contribution that the Wellcome
  Trust is making.  None the less, I think it does bear some further examination
  because clearly this sort of public/private partnership relationship that we
  have with the Wellcome Trust needs to be on a perhaps slightly more open
  footing than it is now.  Going back to the Daresbury decision, or non-
  Daresbury decision making, the Secretary of State was very clear in the autumn
  that he was minded to put it at Daresbury.  There was thereafter a very strong
  hint that if Wellcome Trust did not see the installation being placed at RAL
  they would take their money out of the equation and that they would therefore
  be putting a certain amount of - I believe the word is "blackmail" - pressure
  on the Secretary of State to make the decision in favour of RAL because the
  Secretary of State did not have sufficient in his own departmental budget to
  substitute for the Wellcome Trust money.  Would you be prepared to comment on
  that?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   it seems to me that there are two points
  one has to make on this.  The first is that we now live in a world in which
  these very expensive scientific facilities increasingly have to be considered
  on an international basis.  The situation exists clearly already in particle
  physics, it exists in astronomy, it is increasingly an issue in naval research
  vessels and all sorts of different aspects.  If you are going to have these
  facilities on a partnership basis then the views of your partners have to be
  considered.  It is obviously nicer if you can do these things on the basis of
  your own funding without having to give any consideration to your partners'
  views, but that is not the way the world works and in arriving at this
  decision clearly the Wellcome Trust have also had to do not what they would
  prefer to have done, which was to have an open competition, for example.  I
  do think you have to accept that if you have partnerships as the basis of this
  kind of funding, they are partnerships.
        Dr Turner:  But if there is a partnership involving blackmail by if you
  like the minority financial partner of Government which is putting in the
  major contribution, do you agree that there is an issue?
        Mr Jackson: "Blackmail" is a bad word.
        Chairman:   It is indeed an issue.
        Mr Jackson: There is indeed an issue, Dr Turner, to withdraw the word
  "blackmail".
  
                              Dr Williams
        142.     Could I ask Dr Taylor the question that Dr Gibson put to him
  earlier and he did not get to it?  That is that between January and April of
  last year there seems to have been a fundamental change of mind within OST. 
  Leave to one side this open competition.  Initially there is a presumption for
  Daresbury at that stage, and yet by April what became anywhere became two and
  then that became one and that was RAL.  What were the factors that changed the
  view of OST to go for Oxford rather than Daresbury?
        (Dr Taylor) I do not think that is the correct way to characterise the
  progression that happened.  I think it is much closer to the way that Lord
  Sainsbury depicted it.  That is an advancement of the work that needed to be
  done.  In the autumn of 1998, before I came into the process, it had just been
  unlocked by Wellcome making the offer which was announced during the
  Comprehensive Spending Review.  I think certainly Wellcome Trust, from my
  understanding of the situation, went away to start to learn a little bit about
  synchrotrons.  It was not something they had had a great deal to do with. 
  When I came into the post in January I saw what I had been asked to do as
  having two major elements.  One was to understand what was the best
  recommendation I could make for how to take this forward from the point of
  view of science.  My job is to make the recommendation on what would be best
  for science here in the UK.  The other part of it was how to make a
  partnership function because again it is not something we have done very much
  in the UK up to now.  We tend to have large facilities that are UK owned. 
  This was the beginning of the dialogue between the two partners and then the
  three partners as the French started to show an interest.  Part of the problem
  was, could we come to some kind of offering that would be at least plausible
  or acceptable to the various partners as the basis for recommendations to
  ministers and their decision making?  During that first part of the year the
  Wellcome Trust also made a lot of further investigations and carried out a lot
  of their own studies on the scientific merit of the sites.  Again they have
  documented that to you very well, so it is very clear that over the months in
  the first half of the year they developed a quite clear perception quite
  independently that if it were a choice between the two sites they would on
  scientific grounds prefer the Rutherford site, and they also were extremely
  clear in their statements to us all the way through these exploratory
  negotiations that their board of governors, their board of trustees, were
  adamant that the decision should be made on scientific merit.
  
                              Dr Williams
        143.     What do you say to several of my colleagues and many
  commentators outside who see in this decision and in those discussions that
  took place during those three months a scientific establishment that is based
  on Oxford, Cambridge and London exercising its power against in a sense what
  would have been the regions?  Is it not true that within the whole of the
  scientific establishment and simply within the key players here there is a
  predominance of Oxford, Cambridge and London, and that really all big prestige
  projects should be somewhere in this whole triangle?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   Can I come in on this because this is
  absolutely a fundamental issue here because these accusations have been made. 
  I think it is very regrettable.  John Taylor is I think a Cambridge man.
        (Dr Taylor) I was born and brought up in Moseley, Birmingham,
  actually.
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   Dr Dexter is of course from Manchester. 
  It was on exactly these sorts of issues that the Secretary of State and I
  believed that there should be a proper study done with the users, the people
  who are going to use this machine, as to what their views were.  We undertook
  that.  It was co-ordinated by the NRC.  The report of that is quite clear. 
  It gives the views of the users on these key scientific issues.  There was
  also a series of other things which are a matter of record as to what the
  views on the science are, which seem to me to make admirable sense, and I
  think to put this all in the context of some lack of integrity of the
  scientists involved in this or an Oxford and Cambridge mafia is frankly to
  lower what is an important and difficult debate in a way which I think is not
  helpful to considering how we do these things on a scientific basis.
  
                              Mr Ashdown
        144.     Chairman, I am new to this Committee so I hope the Committee
  and perhaps the Minister will forgive me if I, not having been quite so
  immersed in this as others, ask questions which are self-evident from the
  documents before us.  I have four, perhaps five, very brief questions which
  I think require only very brief answers.  In asking for a competition in that
  fact from Wellcome did you detect any hostility from Wellcome towards
  Daresbury or any sense that Daresbury was not favoured by them?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   Yes.  As I indicated, I think they had
  some sense that the way that the Daresbury site was managed --- that they had
  some sense that that was not as high as it should be.  I do not think that in
  the long term that was a major consideration.  It may have led them to ask for
  a competition.
        145.     So this was not to do with them seeking choice on a level
  playing field but with them implicitly indicating doubts about Daresbury?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   No.  We must be fair to them.  I think
  they wanted a competition which would cover the whole country and I do not
  think there was any implication that that should be other than open and fair
  competition.
        146.     Forgive me, Lord Sainsbury, you cannot have it both ways.  It
  cannot be the case that you thought you detected hostility towards Daresbury
  from Wellcome and yet they wanted a competition simply to have a level playing
  field.
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   No, I did not imply that.  I implied
  that they did not in any way suggest anything which would make the open
  competition other than open and fair.
        147.     But you detected some concerns from Wellcome about Daresbury?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   Yes, I think there were concerns.  As I
  say, I do not think that affected their final decision but it may have
  affected their view that we should not automatically go for the Daresbury
  site.  I have to say that there were other reasons why I think it would have
  been wrong anyway just simply to go for the Daresbury site.  This is a very
  large project.  It involves a large amount of public money and without doing
  any work to say, is this the right place to do it, I think that would have
  been wrong.  That was why we did agree that we would do a preliminary look
  quickly to see if there were any other obvious places to put it.  It was at
  that point that the question of RAL was raised, which had already been
  considered by other people to be another place which you could put it.  It
  just had never been pursued.
        148.     Do you accept the point made in this written question that
  the OST had reached a decision, not final of course, but favourable to RAL as
  early as April or May?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   The study which was done, which was the
  ADD consultancy report, was done on the basis that they looked at three sites:
  Daresbury, RAL and a sort of green field option.  On the basis that they asked
  for that study to be done, it was on the basis that at that point they did not
  have a clear view that one was preferable to the other.
        149.     But that is entirely contrary to the information we have now. 
  OST were indicating to others that they were favourable towards RAL as early
  as April or May.
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   The study was done in April.  As far as
  I know up to that point there were no detailed financial figures of the
  decision and I cannot believe at that point that anyone would have taken ---
  they may have said it was another possibility.  They may have said that there
  were good reasons for thinking about this.  They may even have said that there
  was logic in putting the synchrotron next to the neutron source, but I do not
  think a firm view was taken.  John Taylor can give his own views on that.
        150.     But here is a letter of April which clearly indicates that
  the OST - no decisions have been taken.  No-one is doubting the decision is
  yet to be taken by ministers - has clearly not only reached a conclusion
  favourable to RAL but is broadcasting that conclusion about before the ADD
  report had been produced in April or May.  One cannot conclude other than that
  the OST had reached a decision more favourable to RAL than Daresbury even
  before the ADD report had been produced.
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   I will let John Taylor answer that
  question.
        (Dr Taylor) I really do not think that we were anywhere near that kind
  of decision making at that time.
        151.     So the Wellcome Trust are wrong?
        (Dr Taylor) What the Wellcome Trust are reflecting are sample points
  around a very complex set of negotiations.  When they were developing their
  own views we were exploring a number of options and we were both trying to
  come to some kind of position where we could say we had got at least one
  viable option which would let this project go ahead.  We were under a lot of
  criticism for the delay that this project had already incurred and we were at
  that point exploring a very complex space with a third partner coming into the
  picture to find at least one option that would be at least in principle
  acceptable to some of the partners.
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   As we are quoting this letter, let us
  quote it correctly.  What it says is:  "Initially, they agreed to our
  suggestion but later proposed ... that the synchrotron be located at the
  Rutherford Appleton Laboratory."  They did not say that this was a final view. 
  All they said was "proposed" and in fact what it was a proposal that this
  should be looked at.
        152.     Do you understand why it would undermine the confidence in
  decision making int his matter if it were true, as Wellcome seems to claim,
  that the OST had reached a favourable position to RAL as early as April or May
  when their own ADD report was not going to be published until June?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   Clearly if they had had a final and firm
  view and had made a proposal to me on that basis, clearly that would be -----
        153.     Let us be absolutely clear, Lord Sainsbury.  I am not
  suggesting that they reached a final view.  The final view was reached by
  ministers, but it would be a matter which would diminish confidence in
  decision making if the OST commissioned an ADD report but had reached already
  a conclusion favourable to one of the two sites as early as April or May when
  that report was not due out until June.
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   Of course if the question was, was it a
  decision which encompassed all the issues, including the financial ones, and
  they had made the decision without having got the financial information,
  clearly that would be wrong.
        154.     Do you regret the fact that it appears that people believed
  that the OST had reached a decision broadly favourable to RAL even before
  their own report had been published?  That is the conclusion you have to draw
  from the Wellcome papers.
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   No.  Clearly the OST is the body that
  commissioned the report.  There would be no reason to commission a report, and
  we did not at that point, and no-one could know what that report would say. 
  They commissioned it and they clearly would not have done that unless they
  wanted to have that information as part of the decision making process.
        155.     But that is the point, is it not?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   Unless you have some view of the OST as
  a completely unhinged organisation, why should they make a decision without
  taking proper account of the information?
        156.     I just want to ask Lord Sainsbury perhaps a very simple
  point.  The perception behind this question, backed up by the Wellcome report,
  is that OST were becoming favourable to the RAL and were telling people
  publicly about that, or at least they allowed that information to be taken as
  early as April and May, when the ADD report was not due out until June.  That
  is a regrettable impression to have been allowed to be reached, is it not?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   I have to say that I am not quite
  certain what the point of this discussion is.  Clearly people were looking at
  this decision.  They were trying to find out, to make an assessment, and they
  then commissioned a report to do it which had a key part to play in that.  I
  cannot see why they would have done if they had already formed a view.
  
                               Chairman
        157.     If I may say so from the Chair, you and Mr Ashdown are both
  agreed.  He cannot see either why they should commission it if they had formed
  a view.  He is saying the view was formed before the report was published. 
  I think you are both agreed on that particular point.
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   If I may say so, Mr Ashdown is going
  from a statement by Mike Dexter that it was proposed, to broadcasting to the
  world.  It was simply, as far as I understand it, that the OST simply said to
  them, "This is one of the things which we think ought to be considered and
  that is why we are commissioning a report."  I cannot see that that is in any
  way regrettable.
  
                               Dr Iddon
        158.     I thought Lord Sainsbury hinted that there was something
  wrong with the management of Daresbury and I think it is important that we
  clear that point up for the benefit of the people who work there.  Is that
  what you said?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   I think there is no doubt about the high
  quality of the research that had been done at Daresbury, no question about
  that at all.  But I think it is equally true that the Wellcome Trust had some
  reservations about the way that the site was managed.  That is not about the
  people who do the work there.  It is about the way that the total site was
  managed.
  
                           Mrs Curtis-Thomas
        159.     By early October 1999 the Secretary of State was clearly
  expressing his preference for Daresbury and on 1 November 1999 the Wellcome
  Trust received a letter from him stating that he "had decided to site the
  synchrotron at Daresbury".  OST officials, on the other hand, had spent the
  preceding months arguing the opposite case and their views eventually
  prevailed over the decision of the Secretary of State.  What does this tell
  us about the decision making processes in the DTI, about who is really in
  control and about the accountability of senior civil servants to Ministers and
  to Parliament?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   I think the process was that the OST
  rightly put forward its views, which it had been asked by the Secretary of
  State and myself to do.  The Secretary of State, and indeed myself at that
  point, were not totally convinced, which is why we asked for further work to
  be done.  There was also subsequently a whole series of discussions with the
  Wellcome Trust.  It was only at the end of those discussions and when we had
  the further information that the final decisions were taken.  I think as a
  whole that is how decision making should be taken, ie, the civil servants and
  the Director General of the Research Council were asked to put forward a
  recommendation, then that was scrutinised by the politicians in this case. 
  Further discussions took place and final decisions were reached.  Those
  decisions were those of the Secretary and mine, and not those of the Director
  General of the Research Councils or the OST.
  
                               Chairman
        160.     You do not disagree however, Lord Sainsbury, with Mrs Curtis-
  Thomas's statement that in early October 1999 the Secretary of State was
  clearly expressing his preference for Daresbury and on 1 November the Wellcome
  Trust received a letter from him stating he had decided on the Daresbury site? 
  You accept that that is a statement of fact?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   Yes, and it is a matter of public
  record.
        161.     I just want to make sure where the facts are.
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   That is all agreed.
  
                           Mrs Curtis-Thomas
        162.     You referred to further information that was received after
  November.  What was that further information and what information and reports
  are your Department prepared to make public so that other individuals can have
  the opportunity to scrutinise them to the same degree as yourself?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   Of the two critical reports which we
  asked for, one was a further user consultation.  We had had user consultations
  but we asked for a further user consultation which would specifically cover
  the question of the site.  That was clearly immensely important because we had
  received large numbers of letters from scientists saying that they thought the
  Daresbury site was the right one.  As I said, I think there were certain
  things wrong with those letters because they were based on incorrect
  assumptions.  Nevertheless, these were distinguished scientists who had
  written in about this view and we therefore thought it was right to get a
  properly constituted view from the user community.  That view was extremely
  important in the decision because it indicated that at least for the physical
  scientists there was merit seen to be in locating the synchrotron on the same
  site as the neutron source.  The second bit of information went the other way,
  which was the look at the whole site issues by Allott & Lomax.  That refuted
  the view that there would be any difficulty about putting the synchrotron on
  the Daresbury site.  We had those further bits of information and we also had
  further discussions with the Wellcome Trust about their views, and on that
  basis we took the decision.  I think both the Allott & Lomax report and the
  user consultation are matters now of public record and are available to anyone
  to consider.
  
                               Dr Kumar
        163.     Lord Sainsbury, what concerns me most is the whole
  information about this project as time has gone on emerged slowly, grudgingly,
  in secrecy, and one of the secrets that emerged bit by bit was in August of
  last year about the involvement of the French Government.  Why was that kept
  secret until last year?  I wonder if you could explain it to us?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   I do not think there was any mystery
  about it.  That was simply again, and it is all a matter of public record,
  that the French had not been involved prior to that and it was only the
  question of their own Minister of Research and Education taking a decision to
  cancel the Sl(?) project in France that led them to think about their
  involvement with our project.  I do not think that was kept secret any longer
  than was necessary for the French to make proper arrangements for it to be
  announced.
        164.     You are saying that the French got involved in August last
  year?  As soon as they were involved you put that into the public domain?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   No.  Before that they had obviously
  asked us whether that would be a possibility, but I think between them
  formally asking and we agreeing and then making an announcement was a very
  short period.
        165.     What do you mean by "short"?  One month?  Two months?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   One month or something like that. 
  Clearly there could be no question of us announcing suddenly that this was
  happening without taking into consideration the French view about when they
  had to announce it because obviously it was an important decision for them to
  make.
  
                               Dr Gibson
        166.     Are these conversations and agreements all documented in
  letters and, if so, are you prepared to put them in the library in the House?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   I would want to look at what is proper
  in these circumstances to have documented.  I would certainly look at it.  I
  do not think they are minuted meetings where they asked if we would consider
  this.  I would have to look at that in terms of what is proper and right.
        Mr Jackson: It is not fair.  These are letters from a foreign
  government.  I hope that they will be consulted before that.
        Dr Gibson:  I can read French.  Can you?
  
                               Dr Iddon
        167.     In recent weeks, Lord Sainsbury, there has been a suggestion
  that the French are going to proceed with a synchrotron project, a new
  synchrotron project, in their own country.  Is that correct?  Can you confirm
  that?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   No, I cannot confirm that.  All I can
  confirm is that I had a discussion with the French Minister which I think was
  on 9 March at which we discussed the taking forward of the work on the UK
  synchrotron.  They raised the question of the possibility of there being a
  further synchrotron, a low energy synchrotron, in France and we discussed that
  and the issue there was whether we would participate and I made it clear that
  we were --- there are two points to make here.  One was that the original
  Woolfson Report always suggested that there should be three energy sources:
  the high energy source which is the European synchrotron radiation facility
  at Grenoble, that we should do a medium energy one, which is the new
  synchrotron source we are doing, and that there should also be a low energy
  source which he suggested we should look at finding partners on.  There is a
  current working party in Europe which is looking at the whole question of what
  is a sensible position on synchrotrons in Europe, which is likely to come
  forward with some view about where there should be a low energy synchrotron. 
  Clearly if there was one and it was a country such as France which decided to
  go ahead with this, then we would want to look seriously at whether we
  participated in some way in that in line with our needs.
        168.     Would that include financial participation?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   Yes.  We currently have a 14 per cent
  share of the high energy Grenoble synchrotron, and clearly if we were
  participating we would have to participate financially.
  
                              Dr Williams
        169.     If the French do go ahead with their own synchrotron, is
  there a danger or a possibility that they could withdraw from the Oxford
  synchrotron?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   No.  These are different energy
  synchrotrons.  The French Minister was quite clear that they would continue
  with their participation in our synchrotron, which is the medium energy one. 
  What they would be doing would a different machine.
        170.     If the unforeseen were to happen, say, in three months' time
  or whenever, would the Oxford site then be considered?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   I think it would have to depend on what
  the decision was.  Clearly you would look at the decision but whether you
  would change it I think you would have to do on the basis of a re-look at the
  situation.
  
                              Mr Jackson
        171.     Would the Minister not agree with me that this is a decision
  that has now been made, that there is a great deal of complicated and
  difficult work that now has to be done to implement it, and it really is not
  helpful to try and talk in terms of re-opening this decision, and what is
  needed is for everybody concerned to get on with the job and to make the new
  synchrotron work in the national, European and international interests?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   I would certainly want to make a strong
  plea for saying that this is an extremely important facility for UK science
  and it is the view of all the scientists universally on this issue, that we
  should now get on with this and get on with the work because it is important
  that we have this machine as soon as possible, and also that it is the very
  best machine we can have.  They are delighted that it is a larger machine than
  was originally planned because that is absolutely critical to the performance
  of this, but they do now want to see the thing move forward as quickly as
  possible so that we can get the benefits of it.
        Chairman:   Lord Sainsbury, it was my intention from the outset to finish
  on an optimistic note of the future.  We have just jumped to the future two
  questions before we wanted to.  I know that Dr Gibson wants to continue on the
  French scheme that we were on and then Dr Turner would like to ask a question
  about open competition that did not take place and then we will move on to the
  future.
  
                               Dr Gibson
        172.     We know that the French say the RAL site was the only one on
  offer; that has been quoted and said.  Who told the French Government this
  because you said that there were other options, including a green field site? 
  I think you also missed one out.  I think there was a rather interesting
  Cambridge campus as well which was in the original report, I seem to remember. 
  There were four sites possible.  Who told the French that it was RAL?  How did
  that come about?  On what basis was Daresbury therefore excluded as far as the
  French were concerned?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   I am not quite certain what you mean
  when you say "when they were told".  When we originally agreed that they would
  come in, it was agreed with them that this would be a decision for the
  Wellcome Trust and the British Government.  They were happy to agree to that,
  but made it very clear then and on subsequent occasions that they preferred
  the RAL site.
        173.     They must have argued about the best of British science and
  French science or whatever, and there must have been arguments about that. 
  One argument has been about the Human Genome Project, that you should site it
  where that is going on, in Cambridge.  There is very little going on in Oxford
  relatively speaking.  We come to this again, this unsure area of why the
  French swallowed it going to RAL, that that was the best option.  Why did they
  not drive a harder bargain?  After all, they were putting a lot of money into
  it.
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   At the time they were involved it had
  pretty much narrowed down to RAL and Daresbury.  They knew that it was going
  to be a choice between those two sites.
        174.     And they would take your word for it?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   If a decision was made by the British
  Government and Wellcome to go to Daresbury or RAL, they would accept that.
        175.     Would you do that if you put money into the French
  synchrotron?  You would allow the French to decide where it went?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   I would certainly not want it to be
  known publicly that I was determining where the synchrotron went in France if
  I were a foreign minister.
  
                               Dr Turner
        176.     Had RAL not been chosen as the site for the synchrotron was
  there any question of closure of RAL?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   No.  There is a huge operation at RAL
  which involves the neutron source, a whole range of other facilities, and
  there is no question of it being closed whatsoever.
        177.     Was the reason why the open competition was clearly not a
  welcome suggestion from the Wellcome Trust purely one of timing, because it
  would have extended the time it took to get to a decision, given that we had
  taken quite a long time to arrive at the decision that we had?  Was that the
  reason or were there others?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   Our objection to it?
        178.     Yes.
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   The situation  it seemed to me at that
  point was rather clear.  We had a site which we knew geologically was
  acceptable.  In these decisions the question of geology of the site is
  extremely important because of the sensitivity of these machines.  We had a
  site which the current machine was located on, the skill base was there, and
  it was difficult to conceive the circumstances in which another site would be
  preferable given that if you moved it you would have all the costs of running
  it down.  It seemed in those circumstances to allow a lot of people to do a
  lot of work on geological surveys, talk about planning permission, the infra
  structure to go in to put this kind of operation in (this was particularly at
  a time when we were asking them to do a lot of work on the JIF projects) would
  be an extremely pointless action.  It was on that basis that John Taylor
  consulted me and I totally accepted his view that this would be a pointless
  exercise which would incur a lot of costs for no purpose.
        179.     I accept that, Lord Sainsbury.  Finally, in the comparative
  costings of establishing the synchrotron at both sites do the published
  costings for RAL include the costs of closing Daresbury?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   I think they are perfectly reasonable in
  assuming a level of redundancy and other costs which would relate to the
  synchrotron being taken away from the Daresbury site.  What they show is that
  it is more favourable for financial purposes to put it at RAL.  I have to say
  that in my own judgment of it, while that is true on the facts they present,
  it does depend on the assumptions you make on the number of redundancies and
  a series of other factors.  On that basis it seemed to me it was probably fair
  to say that there was no significance difference from a financial point of
  view between the two sites.
  
                               Dr Iddon
        180.     My question is based upon that point which has been raised
  about the running down and the other costs.  You must have some idea of the
  worst scenario.  We have been short of money in getting the DIAMOND project
  going and it is a partnership, obviously, 100 million from Wellcome, some
  from the French Government and the rest from ourselves.  I have seen figures
  quoted as high as 35 million for the running down costs of Daresbury which
  seemed to me to be a very strong argument for leaving the new synchrotron
  project at Daresbury and transferring staff across and using other facilities
  on that site.  It just seems a terrible waste of money if that is anywhere the
  truth in the costs of running down Daresbury.
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   This was exactly the situation which we
  asked the financial appraisal to consider.  On what seemed perfectly fair
  assumptions the ongoing cost advantages of putting it at RAL, where there are
  considerable synergies by running the two machines together, long term on a
  discounted basis still outweighs the costs of the redundancy and other
  payments which would be incurred on a reasonable basis at Daresbury.  As I
  say, my own judgment is that those figures are sufficiently close --- as
  always with these things, it looks a large figure, like 20 million saving,
  over a lengthy period.  Nevertheless, when you work through the figures it
  probably tells you nothing more than that there is not much financially to
  choose between the two sites.
  
                              Mr Ashdown
        181.     I am sorry; I probably test the indulgence of the Committee
  if I return to this, but I am genuinely confused about the exchange we had
  earlier on.  I want to put a very simple question to Lord Sainsbury which I
  think actually requires only a one word answer.  Here is a statement: by April
  to May 1999 the OST and CCLRC, together with the new DGRC, Dr John Taylor,
  were all in favour of RAL.  Is that statement true?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   No; incorrect.
  
                               Chairman
        182.     Can I just move forward in the 10 minutes that we have got
  left and turn to RAL where the project is scheduled to go and ask how much
  progress has been made with the project so far?  Is all the funding in place? 
  Has a project leader been appointed and, if so, who is he or she?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   I have just come back from spending
  Monday and Tuesday at the first full tripartite project meeting where we had
  scientists, both users and machine designers, from both the French team and
  our own team, from CCLRC and representatives from the Wellcome Trust.  We have
  appointed an interim project manager whose name is David Hull and he will
  manage the interim phase of the project until we have all of the signed
  memoranda of agreement for the new joint venture in place.  We have set up
  three major teams: the machine design team, the scientific advisory committee
  and the financial, legal and contractual group.  We have set up an interim
  steering group which is the shadow for the eventual board of directors for the
  project and that will consist of Vincent Courtillot from the French Ministry,
  myself from OST and Michael Morgan from the Wellcome Trust.  We had an
  extremely positive day and a half.  The scientists there from all sides were
  saying they were delighted at the way the meeting went and I think we all went
  out saying that this project is now running and operational and our first
  major milestone is to get an agreed design specification for the machine by
  September.
        183.     I did ask if all the funding was in place.  Is it all in
  place?
        (Dr Taylor) Subject to the planning cycles of three year spending
  reviews and so on, we are all clear that the funding necessary is available
  from the partners.
        184.     Why is the project leader only interim?
        (Dr Taylor) Because we are going through a process which will probably
  take up to a year or more to create the joint venture vehicle which will be
  a company jointly owned by the three partners similar to the company that runs
  ESRF, and until we can get all the legal agreements in place for that to be
  formally constituted we need to have an interim set of management in place.
        185.     You are not waiting for B Y Jerberg(?) to become free from
  the Dome before you appoint a further one?  Can I ask whether the system of
  parallel working which is being established before Daresbury shuts down is
  working.  How long will that work for?  What optimism does that give to the
  Daresbury site?
        (Dr Taylor) We are working on a number of fronts about those issues. 
  We have made a number of major management changes in CLRC.  We have a new
  acting chief executive, a new chairman, we have split the role of chief
  executive and chairman to bring it in line with the other research councils
  and normal governance procedures.  We have a set of study teams in place
  looking at the future chartering mission for CCLRC as a whole and for the
  funding arrangements and so on.  We are strengthening the Council to bring it
  in line with a new kind of mission.  We have changed the management at CCLRC
  itself.  There is a new Director, Hywel Davies, who is driving this forward
  very well.  I think certainly from the meetings I have been to and my staff
  have been to for the last few weeks that Daresbury staff in particular are
  thoroughly engaged in driving forward the design of this new machine in a way
  that is very encouraging for all of us.  Their expertise is very important to
  us and I am very pleased with the way that the design team is now coming
  together for a new machine.
        186.     Lord Sainsbury, there has been talk about a cluster of
  scientific excellence at the RAL, and yet no-one has denied the fact that
  Daresbury was a centre of excellence in its own right on this one specific
  topic.  Perhaps you would sympathise with the fact that if you have got one
  piece of isolated excellence and that does not result in a cluster later on,
  it is very difficult to say how morale in scientific sites can be sustained
  if, when something new comes along, it does not go to a site of single
  excellence but goes to a site of multiple excellence.  Would you have sympathy
  with people who have put that point of view forward?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   Yes.
        187.     Perhaps I could couple it with a second question.  The fact
  that Daresbury has shown itself to be a site of excellence up until now, and
  I am sure will continue to be in the future, but has not got the DIAMOND
  project, does that exclude it from any other new scientific development in the
  future or is it indeed a prime candidate for some new scientific endeavour in
  the future?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   It certainly does not exclude it and the
  fact that we have set up this north west scientific study is precisely to see
  how we can maximise the value of that site in the future from the scientific
  point of view, and we will certainly be seeking to do that.
        188.     You do accept that there may be need for more than one site
  of scientific excellence, one cluster, that we do have now a general
  acceptance across both sides of the house that competition is quite a good
  thing and that that does apply to scientific clusters as well as it does to
  other things?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   I am sorry; I should have answered your
  first question.  Yes, I do sympathise with this issue.  It is an extremely
  difficult one, that in this particular case the decision came down on actually
  putting the facilities together because of the potential synergy and benefits
  from that.  But I am very clear that from the point of view of doing excellent
  science we want as much diversity as possible and we do not want everything
  to be simply in either a very limited number of sites or universities.
        Dr Gibson:  A certain sum of money has been mentioned as going to
  Daresbury, 25 million or 30 million.
        Dr Iddon:   To the north west.
  
                               Dr Gibson
        189.     How has that arisen?  You have a committee that is looking
  into how you can develop it and yet you are throwing money at the problem. 
  One might say that that was a cynical freebie response.  Why did you pick that
  sum of money?
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   It is not the first time where there has
  been a situation like this where we have felt it is appropriate that there
  should be some money for re-structuring.  We are very conscious of the fact
  that we have taken this new project away from that site and we wanted to look
  at how we could build on the excellence of the north west science base which
  is extremely high, particularly in areas like health care and biological
  sciences.  We want to see what we can do to build on that to compensate for
  what we have done in taking away a project from that particular area.
  
                               Chairman
        190.     Lord Sainsbury, Dr Taylor, I think we shall draw to a close
  now.  It is very close to 5.30.  You will recall that we did look at this
  subject of the synchrotron earlier.  We came to the conclusion that both sites
  had very considerable merit and I am sure that you too would agree that both
  sites had very considerable merit.  the fact remains however that there is
  only going to be one synchrotron and a decision had to be made.  However the
  decision was made there would be one site that would be disappointed.  That
  we understand.  But as we are doing a major inquiry on scientific advice to
  government it is interesting to get an insight into how Government uses
  scientific advice, the process of decision making, and although this
  particular session this afternoon is not within that particular inquiry it is
  a similar sort of questioning session. I think we have questioned you hard
  this afternoon.  I may say that I think you and Dr Taylor have answered as
  fully and well as is possible and very ably.  We are grateful to you for
  coming along to such a difficult session.  You knew before you came that it
  would be a difficult session but you did not back away.  You came the moment
  we asked you and we are very grateful for that.  We wish you both well in all
  that you do to help the scientific community.  We know there will always be
  some people disappointed but the most disappointing thing of all would be if
  we did nothing in the scientific community.  You are doing something.  You are
  breaking eggs and you are making omelettes, but at least we are breaking eggs
  and getting on with the omelettes.  Thank you very much indeed, both of you.
        (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)   Thank you very much indeed, Chairman.