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".
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".
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".
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.
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
73. The Minister told us in no uncertain terms
that "science is absolutely central to the delivery of the
achievement of [...] growth".
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
Q 125 Back
Q 126 Back
Q 246 Back