Select Committee on Science and Technology Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 460 - 462)



  Q460  Dr Turner: There clearly will be challenges for this body. Do you think it has the strength to make further contributions?

  Lord Rees of Ludlow: It depends on its leadership and it depends on the interface with DTI and OSI, but I hope very much that there will be some benefit which will compensate for the disruption that such a change is causing.

  Q461  Dr Turner: You do not think there is a risk that funding very large facilities like Behaviour, Collider, Diamond and so on is going to detract from other programmes?

  Lord Rees of Ludlow: Well, there is indeed, and that is why I was expressing the wish that the internal structure of PPARC which supports small-scale research as well will be left unchanged. There is indeed a tension between the big facilities and the small science, but I think the overwhelming concern is that the decision on the large facilities should be made in a balanced way, taking account of scientific priority and where the UK has an edge. The most important decision which the Council will ever make is to decide whether it is going to support facilities that make the history books or those which are in retrospect perceived as white elephants. That is the most important decision they have to make and you have got to make sure that the body making that is as well informed as possible.

  Q462  Dr Turner: Yes, of course, but the current component parts of Swindon Town are already involved with the BNSC. How effective do you think they are in that body and do you think they could be more effective in the future?

  Lord Rees of Ludlow: I think the UK has been involved in successful facilities and successful projects, but there is always scope for improvement. When we consider how the scientific effort interfaces with the applications, Earth-oriented research, climate research, et cetera, I think there is tremendous scope for improved co-ordination.

  Chairman: I think, on that note, we will bring this session to an end. Professor Culhane, Professor Rowan-Robinson and Lord Rees, thank you very, very much indeed for your presence this morning.

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