Select Committee on Science and Technology Eighth Report


2 Background

Mission and functions

5. The CCLRC is the UK's strategic agency for large scale neutron, muon, synchrotron and high power laser facilities. The principal use of these facilities is the study of the structure and behaviour of materials at the molecular and atomic levels. The CCLRC also acts as the main adviser to the Government and the other Research Councils on large facility provision. Formed in 1995 by Royal Charter, the CCLRC owns and operates the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, the Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire and the Chilbolton Observatory in Hampshire. These institutions provide the UK and international research community and industry with access to advanced facilities and scientific and technical expertise.

6. The six other Research Councils support their respective research communities by project and programme grant awards and by funding researchers in relevant fields through a variety of schemes. The CCLRC's grant awarding powers and levels of funding are comparatively small.[4] The majority of CCLRC activities relate to facilitating and performing science and engineering research using large scale facilities. The principal resource for which it is responsible is the allocation of experimental time on its facilities to the UK and international research communities. In spite of this very different function, the CCLRC retains the status of a Research Council and its Chief Executive sits on the RCUK Strategy Board. Like other Research Councils, it produces Operating Plans, Strategic Plans and Annual Reports.

7. The CCLRC describes its mission as "providing vision and leadership in an international context for the delivery of world class facilities and capabilities for UK research."[5] In pursuit of this mission, it lists the following primary functions:

  • manage the design, build and operation of large research facilities and research services that are beyond the scope of an individual university;
  • project manage large multidisciplinary research and development projects and teams;
  • sustain a critical mass of research capability in key technologies as a vital national resource to enable future science programmes;
  • provide long-term stewardship of national and international science support, survey and monitoring activity, underpinned by research;
  • promote knowledge transfer between its programmes and other sectors of the UK economy in support Government policy;
  • form long-term strategic science, engineering and technology alliances, of benefit to the UK, with leading research laboratories around the world; and lead the development of strategy, planning and advice to Government on development of the next generation of research facilities within its fields of competence.[6]

8. The CCLRC lists its six strategic objectives in its 2002-08 strategic plan. They can be summarised as follows:


Recent changes in responsibilities

9. The first Quinquennial Review (QQR) of the CCLRC was a two-stage process, the second stage of which reported in April 2002. The QQR identified a number of weaknesses in the ways in which time on facilities was organised and in the development of a strategic view on the development of large scale facilities to meet the needs of the Research Councils. The CCLRC is currently implementing the recommendations of the QQR.[7] As a result of one of these recommendations, the CCLRC broadened its role as a provider of services and facilities demanded by the Research Councils. It has now assumed a more strategic role in providing advice to Government on ensuring future access by UK scientists and engineers to leading-edge capabilities in the areas of neutron scattering, synchrotron science and high power laser science. In addition to taking on direct responsibilities for the maintenance and development of large scale facilities, the CCLRC took over from EPSRC stewardship of the UK partnership in the Institut Laue Langevin (ILL) neutron source and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), both of which are located in Grenoble. The CCLRC is also now responsible for managing the UK Government's shareholding in the new Diamond synchrotron being built at the CCLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. These facilities are covered in more detail in chapter 5. The CCLRC's enhanced strategic role is dealt with in chapter 3.

Income and expenditure

10. The CCLRC employs some 1800 people at its various sites.[8] In line with the other Research Councils, the budget of the CCLRC was significantly increased in the 2002 Spending Review. Baseline provision and an uplift for inflation amounted to an extra £23.6 million over the following three years.[9] This increase was designed to recognise the CCLRC's new responsibilities for improving facilities (£3.9 million per annum transferred from EPSRC) and to facilitate its new strategic role. Additional specific allocations included an extra £12 million for capital investment in institute facilities and equipment, £3.6 million towards a joint programme (with PPARC) in accelerator science and £5 million for development of the Grid-based facilities under the e-science programme. The Council recorded a surplus on operations of £1.6 million in 2002-03. The Councils' income profile changed significantly in 2003-04 when the Council received funding directly from OST rather than from the Research Councils. A financial summary of income and expenditure is set out in table 1 below.Table 1: CCLRC financial summary
£k

1998-99
£k

1999-00

£k

2000-01
£k

2001-02

£k

2002-03

CCLRC Totals
Income from Operating Activities
UK Research Councils 69,12270,030 70,44173,896 75,129
Government Departments 2,5764,117 4,8437,674 3,998
Universities2,002 2,8354,633 3,7235,429
European Commission 3,6492,440 3,9993,891 3,269
Other Overseas6,803 8,7619,805 8,1738,676
Private Sector and Domestic 5,5625,490 2,3433,881 3,059
Total operating income 89,71493,673 96,064101,238 99,560
Grant in Aid 1,4622,000 2,0069,372 3,814
Release of deferred income 21,81022,194 20,26122,804 22,367
Total income 112,986117,867 118,331133,414 125,741
Expenditure excluding cost of capital
Depreciation21,810 22,19420,261 22,80422,057
Other operating expenditure 96,00992,821 98,084106,215 102,101
Total expenditure excluding cost of capital 117,819115,015 118,345129,019 124,158
Operating surplus/(deficit) for the year (4,833)2,852 (14)4,395 1,583
Cost of capital15,830 15,81116,038 16,71317,583
Operating deficit for the year (20,663)(12,959) (16,052)(12,318) (16,000)
Capital additions13,592 13,82714,699 20,41524,415

Note: Prior to 1999-00, depreciation costs were recorded at Corporate CCLRC level only. Segmental analysis for 1998-99 is therefore estimated.

Source: CCLRC, Ev 10

International comparison

11. We were interested to learn from oral evidence from CCLRC that the OST was conducting a survey of spending on international facilities in Europe. An update from OST on this survey reported that it was too difficult to establish reliable comparable data from other countries and that the study had been "suspended for the time being."[10] This is regrettable. We find it surprising that bilateral and multinational arrangements for the funding of large scale facilities can be entered into without it being possible to obtain global figures for such spending. Without such data, it is difficult for OST to gauge whether the UK is doing enough to maintain its international position as a world class venue for science and whether it is on course to meet its objectives to increase research capability and international competitiveness in new strategic areas.[11] We recommend that OST resumes its efforts to develop reliable, if broad, indicators of international levels of expenditure on large scale facilities.


4   See paras 40-42 below for discussion of the Facility Development Grant.  Back

5   CCLRC, Strategic Plan 2003-2008, p 9 Back

6   Ev 17 Back

7   See ev 24-26 Back

8   Ev 18, 27 Back

9   OST, Science Budget 2003-04 to 2005-06, p 46 Back

10   Q 70; ev 58 Back

11   See DTI, Departmental Report 2004, Chapter 10. Back


 
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