Select Committee on Science and Technology Eighth Report

11 Conclusion

77. In this short inquiry we have been left in no doubt as to the international competitiveness of the facilities operated by the CCLRC, nor the quality of the technical and other support for them. They have helped the UK at the forefront of world science in many different areas. In spite of the announcement of the ten year strategy for science, we are not yet convinced that the Government places sufficient value on the benefits hosting international facilities. It is not all about realising benefits in pounds and pence. The CCLRC and RCUK should drive forward this message, with the proactive support of the Science Minister.

78. The CCLRC has proved that it is capable of running these facilities efficiently to the benefit of the UK research community, although we believe that there is scope for a more strategic and transparent approach to allocation time between different user groups. We also conclude that there is a need to improve industrial awareness of and access to the CCLRC's facilities. Finally, and most importantly, we conclude that the dual role of operating facilities and providing strategic advice on large scale facilities is not conducive to maintaining the confidence of the whole UK research community in the independence of strategic advice to Government. We have recommended that this strategic advisory role should pass to the strategic guardian of the Research Councils' interests, RCUK.

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