Cross-border provision of public services for Wales: Further and higher education - Welsh Affairs Committee Contents

Letter from Rt Hon John Denham MP, Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills to the Chairman

  Thank you for your letter earlier this month following up on your earlier evidence session with Bill Rammell.

  I agree with the importance of my Department keeping in regular contact with the Welsh Assembly Government (as with the other Devolved Administrations). I had a phone call earlier this month with Jane Hutt of the WAG. In addition, Bill Rammell had agreed to meet Ministerial Counterparts in the Devolved Administrations on a regular basis, and David Lammy will be following this up. This is in addition to the opportunity for regular discussion at official level at the Research Base Funders Forum (chaired by DIUS and including representation from the WAG and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales).

  I would not want to raise expectations of a DIUS "strategic science" fund or site in Wales. Our policy for science and research funding is to fund the best science wherever it occurs in the UK, not to aim for a particular national spread of research investment. You mention the Harwell and Daresbury Science and Innovation campuses: whilst we have taken a strategic approach to these two Science and Technology Facilities Council sites, the rationale was effectively the other way around: it was because there already were major research facilities at those two sites that we need to take decisions on how to develop the sites in a strategic way to make the most of them, not because we were looking to have certain levels of investment in particular places.

  I cannot comment on your points about additional funding for Wales beyond the Barnett formula, since these are outside of my Department's responsiblities.

  I look forward to reading your Committee's findings and recommendations.

30 November 2008

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