The impact of spending cuts on science and scientific research - Science and Technology Committee Contents


6  Conclusion

72.  It was reported on 12 March 2010 that Lord Mandelson had "drawn a line in the sand" with regard to cuts to the science budget".[144] If this is confirmed by the Budget, this will be welcome news indeed. However, it is important that science funding continues to grow, if the country is to make the most of its scientific potential. On the question of when the impact of cuts to the science budget could become apparent, Dr Tony Peatfield, Director of Corporate Affairs for the Medical Research Council, told us that "it depends how big they are. If they are large you will notice them, potentially, very quickly".[145] For the wider economy, "there would be less feed-through from the basic research into clinical practice, for example, so clinical trials and things would not be happening [...] It could be quite quick; I would have though within a year or two, certainly, you would notice fairly significant changes".[146] At a time when, according to the Government's previous arguments, public investment in science should be increasing, the prospect of cuts looms large over the UK's science base. The Government is committed to supporting business investment in research and development through the taxation system, but the very existence of such businesses depends upon the size and strength of the science base underpinning them. If the Government fails to properly support the science base, there will be no companies to give tax breaks to.

73.  The Minister told us in no uncertain terms that "science is absolutely central to the delivery of the achievement of [...] growth".[147] Failure to continue to increase investment in science would be both counterintuitive and counterproductive. Much good progress will be lost and the size of cuts to science are unlikely to make a significant dent in the deficit. We cannot at present reconcile the Government's policy ambitions with its actions, and call upon the Government to increase spending on science within the next Budget, if it truly is committed to the principle of a knowledge-based economy.


144   Financial Times, 'Science budget to be spared from cuts', 12 March 2010 Back

145   Q 125 Back

146   Q 126 Back

147   Q 246 Back


 
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