Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Memorandum from Sir Anthony Cleaver, Chairman, Medical Research Council


  I understand that at your Committee's final evidence session yesterday, Council members were asked about the scope for reconvening the MRC Task Force and/or deploying some different process (or body) to progress the future of NIMR.

  I thought you might find it helpful if I were to clarify some of the fundamental governance issues from my perspective as Council Chair.

  Governance of the MRC mirrors that for all Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs), ensuring a level of independence from the executive. Council members are drawn from the academic community and from our other key stakeholder groups (NHS, industry, lay). They are appointed by the Minister for Science following public advertisement. The chair and members are all non-executive appointments, with the CEO serving as a full member.

  The Council and the executive takes seriously its custodianship of and accountability for public funds. In MRC the Council aims to manage an unusually broad mix of stakeholder inputs to our business. All decision-making is informed by advice from a range of stakeholders—whether through advisory committees, consultation, or other networks and fora. The Council strives to balance and to weight advice from different sources, to draw on Council members' own high-level experience and judgement, and to be open about the process by which decisions are reached.

  I have every confidence that the Council will continue to apply these principles in determining how best to take forward plans for the renewed NIMR. As with all other major corporate investments this will be done in conjunction with the executive, selected partners, NIMR staff and OST/RCUK. The Council recognises the importance, not least for staff, of maintaining momentum while preserving the quality and robustness of its corporate decision-making.

  In all complex projects there are lessons to be learned and I have no doubt your report will be helpful in drawing attention to these. We welcome the opportunity provided by your inquiry to clarify even more publicly the MRC's overall vision for the renewed institute and the strategy for implementing it.

January 2005

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