Select Committee on Science and Technology Eighth Report

Conclusions and recommendations

1.  We recommend that OST resumes its efforts to develop reliable, if broad, indicators of international levels of expenditure on large scale facilities. (Paragraph 11)

2.  The Strategy Board should be chaired by someone outside the CCLRC. (Paragraph 15)

3.  We recommend that the strategic advisory role in respect of large facilities currently performed by the CCLRC and other Research Councils is formally transferred to RCUK, along with the necessary resources. (Paragraph 19)

4.  Although it is too early to make an assessment of their impact, we welcome the new access arrangements for facilities, which appear to be working well. We regret that detailed information about levels of demand for the different modes of access and statistics relating to administrative costs have not been provided. We recommend that the CCLRC consults with the user community and provides indicative guidelines on the time to be made available on instruments in different access modes wherever possible. (Paragraph 23)

5.  We commend the CCLRC for its work in maintaining world class facilities and in matching this standard in the provision of technical and other support services. (Paragraph 24)

6.  We recommend that the CCLRC publish statistics on subscription rates for its instruments on an annual basis. (Paragraph 25)

7.  In order to better inform the user community and to improve its own strategic planning and liaison with other Research Councils, we recommend that the CCLRC develop broad but meaningful indicators of success rates for applications for time on facilities. (Paragraph 28)

8.  We conclude that the inability of Research Councils to keep pace with demand for facility access is not, at the moment, leading to a significant shift in facility use from UK to foreign researchers. (Paragraph 30)

9.  We would not regard the CCLRC to be acting in the strategic interest of the UK research community if it were to oversee a situation in which foreign researchers benefited disproportionately from UK facilities at the expense of the UK researchers. We hope that the competitiveness of UK science is such that this situation will not arise, but the CCLRC is right to impose caps on the levels of use by EU and other researchers should the interests of UK research programmes be seriously threatened. (Paragraph 31)

10.  We recommend that CCLRC sets itself challenging targets for raising levels of industrial awareness and use of its facilities in future years, with appropriate safeguards such as caps on usage levels if necessary. (Paragraph 34)

11.  We recommend that CCLRC develops indications of user group balance for its facilities and liaises with other Research Councils as necessary to ensure that funding levels are kept as far as possible in tune with available levels of access. (Paragraph 35)

12.  We recommend that the CCLRC calculates a cash value for the time on large scale facilities that departments can use in their submissions to the 2008 RAE and that the funding councils provide a clear indication of how such time is to be taken into account in the award of funding based upon the RAE. (Paragraph 36)

13.  The CCLRC contributions to the Institut Laue Langevin need to be seen in the context of the needs of the UK user community. The CCLRC should spell out in its Strategic Plan how it plans to invest in ILL and then should sustain this level of investment throughout the period of the Plan. (Paragraph 38)

14.  The CCLRC should recognise that the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility is unlikely to be able to meet the demands of the UK user community and should base its strategy on the provision of access to alternative long term facilities. (Paragraph 39)

15.  We recommend that the CCLRC explores with partner countries at the Institut Laue Langevin and the European Synchroton Radiation Facility the possibility of making peer reviewed awards for facility development in place of existing Collaborative Research Groups. In the mean time, we recommend that the CCLRC takes steps to ensure that UK researchers are given the same encouragement and opportunities to collaborate in Collaborative Research Groups as those in partner countries. (Paragraph 42)

16.  We recommend that the UK seeks to ensure that any emerging European Research Council takes on the role of strategic oversight of European large scale facility development and replaces the European Strategic Forum for Research Infrastructure. We would envisage that, once the proposed ERC has established itself, it would become the principal European agency for co-ordinating the development of existing large scale facilities and the establishment of new ones in EU countries. (Paragraph 47)

17.  We commend the CCLRC for achieving high levels of user satisfaction and generally high reliability for its major facilities. (Paragraph 49)

18.  Whilst we welcome efforts to widen perspectives on international benchmarking, the CCLRC has been slow to develop performance measures called for by the Quinquennial Review. We urge CCLRC to engage with international partners and competitors to develop performance measures that are comparable with similar facilities overseas and that performance against these measures are published on a regular basis. (Paragraph 51)

19.  We look to the Science Minister to ensure that the scientific community experiences the minimum possible disruption in the period of transfer from the SRS to Diamond. (Paragraph 53)

20.  We recommend that the CCLRC makes every effort to support the development of alternative projects which will provide employment for the skilled scientists in the northwest region and support the scientific profile of the northwest as a centre of scientific excellence. (Paragraph 54)

21.  We recommend that the CCLRC works closely with the White Rose Consortium, European and other UK partners to help develop a viable UK proposal for hosting a European Spallation Source. (Paragraph 59)

22.  The presence of the Muon Ionisation Cooling Experiment at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory will give the UK a strong advantage when it comes to making proposals to develop and host the new neutrino facility. It should remain in the long term plans of the CCLRC. (Paragraph 60)

23.  The Large Facilities Strategic Road Map already provides the strategic view for the next ten years and beyond. We cannot understand why the Treasury should seek to hijack this policy area. (Paragraph 61)

24.  We recommend that the Ten Year Science Strategy gives a clear indication that Government will be prepared to support a suitable bid for a large scale facility in the UK. (Paragraph 62)

25.  We welcome the establishment of CLIK, and the dedication of additional financial resources and expertise to supporting the commercialisation of outputs derived from CCLRC facilities. (Paragraph 64)

26.  We would like to see CLIK provide longer term support where appropriate. We would also like to see performance measures reflect the longer term and include indicators relating to the commercial outputs of spin-outs with CCLRC support. (Paragraph 65)

27.  It is too early to judge the impact of the CCLRC subsidiary, CLIK, but we recommend that it plays a full part in the CCLRC's attempts promote industrial engagement with imaginative new initiatives. (Paragraph 66)

28.  We recommend that the CCLRC engages with representative bodies from industry in order to stimulate and assess demand for training on its facilities. Subsequently, it should allocate an appropriate period of time for the use of facilities for training purposes. (Paragraph 69)

29.  We recommend that, as part of its current discussions with universities on this subject the current the CCLRC works to provide a framework for establishing and publicising such skills shortage areas and then providing the appropriate training, using specifically allocated periods on instruments where appropriate. (Paragraph 70)

30.  We recommend that the CCLRC establish user groups for each major facility in order to obtain the views of the relevant research communities on the operation and development of its facilities. (Paragraph 73)

31.  We recommend that the CCLRC redoubles its efforts to come up with name that more accurately reflects its mission and functions. The Research Facilities Council would be an improvement. (Paragraph 74)

32.  We recommend that future bids for funding by CCLRC include a sum of up to £1 million per annum for public engagement activities. (Paragraph 76)

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