Setting priorities for publicly funded research - Science and Technology Committee Contents


Examination of Witnesses (Questions 440 - 454)

TUESDAY 12 JANUARY 2010

Dr Paul Nightingale, Professor Andrew Stirling and Sir Richard Brook

  Q440  Lord Broers: Dr Nightingale, you said that in talking to your international colleagues they all respect the UK for having a very sophisticated science policy system. Could you give us your view of what that same international community thinks about the efficiency with which we use our science base?

  Dr Nightingale: I think it is considered to be very good. The international comparison is often from countries where the science system does not work well. It is no secret that there are some countries in Europe where there are rather feudal distributions of money within the science system and it does not go to research excellence. There are a lot of complaints there. Judging from the number of people who move from Europe to the UK, there is a recognition that we perform well compared to the German system. I think again it is a lot more entrepreneurial than the German system which is much more top down. In terms of interacting with industry, I think there are probably more constraints in the UK with interacting with industry and diffusing research out and making sure there is value for money. Quite a lot of those, I think, come from problems with the receptiveness of industry to academic research, because we do not seem to have much problem engaging with industry in Europe. It is much easier, for example, for my research, to talk to industrialists in Sweden or Switzerland sometimes than it is in the UK. There are exceptions there. There are some parts of the wide research system in industry which are extremely supportive of the science system. I have highlighted in my evidence the pharmaceutical industry. I think it is horses for courses.

  Q441  Lord Broers: Have you made comparisons between the science and the development that takes place within industry between our systems—now I leave the universities out of it—comparing the science we do in industry with that of other countries?

  Dr Nightingale: Drawing on the OECD data from 2005, the international comparisons would suggest that the UK is a large European country which operates along the lines of Germany and France. It does not have the R&D intensity of the small, high tech European nations. It is very, very different from the US where there is a lot more high tech R&D research ongoing in industry. Having said that, the UK is a very innovative country. One of the points about the NESTA report was that sometimes these figures are not particularly informative about the nature of innovation that goes on. There is a lot of innovation ongoing in the UK that is not picked up in these figures. In that regard, I think there is a very healthy relationship between the research system in the universities and what goes on in industry and how industry relates to other parts of industry. Most of the innovation is ongoing in industry. To some extent the universities do not play a massive part in that. There are dangers, if we are going to try and make the university system more supportive for innovation, we end up damaging parts of the university system which are working very well.

  Sir Richard Brook: There has been a sea change, I think, in attitudes in Germany recently as I have encountered them, again through the Max Planck Society. There was a tendency to look to Britain as a country which was trying out paths of support and analysis which might be of future value to them. Recently I have got the feeling that they look to Britain as providing a mildly entertaining form of example, but not one which they would wish to follow. This was emphasised, I think, by the "Impact" debates which took place recently there. Impact has become such a central code word in discussions within Britain related to research. They are pleased to be free from that. It is also an organisation where the industrial voice is quite strongly felt in the higher parts of the organisation. It is a strength that the links between industry and the state research sector are quite close. I think the last comment I made here was that such links had become enormously better in Britain than they were 10 or 20 years ago, so dramatic progress has been made. That is a journey which I wish we would continue.

  Professor Stirling: It is clear that the UK performs very well in a number of areas. In Paul's evidence from SPRU, he identified that the "bang for the buck" with scientific metrics of performance, imperfect though they are, is really rather high, but very innovative though often excluding areas which are not well measured: interdisciplinarity, creative areas and so forth. In respect of the co-ordination of research and technological trajectories especially, countries like Denmark and the Netherlands are particularly good but again the Committee heard earlier that in the US and other European countries more generally it is the case that one can identify where the decisions are made, hear a coherent rationale and challenge that rationale more readily. In the UK, although the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Government Office of Science and the research councils all produce extremely rich data on the pattern of their portfolios in various dimensions, we do not have available information aggregated for the UK on how much is spent on these different pathways in key sectors like agriculture, energy and so forth. We do not have that data, let alone clear rationales for why the resources are distributed as they are. That would be an area I would identify as a particular weakness against some other areas of strength.

  Q442  Chairman: Just to be plain, you head a very distinguished unit in the University of Sussex and you are telling us that you cannot co-ordinate the spend, say, in research and agriculture from government figures, just as one example?

  Professor Stirling: It is not easy to determine the actual balance of resources spent on particular trajectories, such as the ones I mentioned earlier. They are not about the challenges for research; they are about the contending technological responses to those challenges, where often what the prioritisation should be is not self-evident. For instance, low carbon energy technologies. There are a variety of these technologies, all of which would benefit from greater funding. That is the kind of challenge where even, yes, in an institute such as SPRU dedicated to these kinds of issues—and the former Chief Scientist acknowledges also in his special group on energy report—we cannot identify exactly what the overall pattern is, let alone the rationale for that pattern.

  Q443  Chairman: The follow on from that is: if you cannot identify the spending pattern, that presumably means perhaps that those government ministers who are responsible for seeing through grand challenges, as an example, do not have the capacity to measure the extent of public expenditure and co-ordination on this?

  Professor Stirling: Precisely. We have a lot of documentation on other dimensions: the demographics of science and disciplinary mixes and so forth, where we are ahead of the curve but, in respect of the particular point I made, I think you are right, yes.

  Dr Nightingale: In preparing for this, I was quite shocked by how little systemic evidence there was out there that I could find. I had expected much more. I think this relates in part to the fact that over the last 10 years the science budget has been expanding and there has not been this need, as much as perhaps there will be over the next five or 10 years, to decide how money is allocated and what the terms are coming from it. I think in the next five years we will see a change to that, but right now the evidence base is very weak.

  Q444  Chairman: Do you think there is a number cruncher sitting somewhere in the depths of the Treasury who, if prompted and stimulated, could actually pull these numbers out or is the system so opaque that even there they do not know?

  Professor Stirling: In an area like energy, it is arguably a field where this is more easy because of the existence of the UK energy research programme and international statistics are of a higher quality and more standardised. Let us look at that area specifically. When Sir David King convened a few years ago the Energy Research Review Group, they found it not possible with the specialist expertise they had available, to determine, in this privileged area, that information. I do think, though, that it would be possible in principle. At a low level of fine grain disaggregation within the various agencies and bodies—research councils and so forth—the information could be compiled. I am on the Defra Science Advisory Council and in the data that we see it would be possible, with quite a bit of input of time, to derive these numbers, but they are not derived with anything like the degree of visibility that would be required for a proper policy debate.

  Q445  Chairman: As I think you have suggested, that might be especially important in a time where cuts mean priorities become even more important.

  Professor Stirling: Quite so.

  Q446  Lord Broers: This is along the lines of what I was alluding to before. How might the UK further encourage innovation and the development of scientific discoveries into new products or services? What is an appropriate proportion of effort and funding to devote to research versus encouraging innovation?

  Dr Nightingale: There is an implicit part of that question which ties into a particular way of thinking about the value of the university system encouraging innovation and the idea that universities can come up with discoveries and they will be commercialised and therefore lead us to economic growth. While that is a very important role for the universities and it is something in which there has been a step change, as we have heard previously, in culture and support for that, the main way in which the university system supports innovation in the UK has been the provision of highly trained people who can solve complex problems. If we are thinking about ways in which the university system can support high tech manufacturing, we need to remember that is only three per cent of GDP and there is another 97 per cent where the universities play a very, very important role in providing skilled people. There has been a fair amount of research on what the interactions are between the university system and how it can support innovation. What they have tended to show is that the indirect forms of support for innovation tend to be much larger than the direct forms of support for innovation. Skilled people are more important than spin-out companies. There are limits to what science policy can do overall, but I think it can be improved. There has been, as we have heard, a big cultural change in the university system over the last 10 years and, forced through by the research councils very successfully, all the universities in the UK are much more receptive to engaging with industry in providing the support. My key issue in arguing for differences between the performance of the UK and, say, countries like the US and the high tech nations of Switzerland, Sweden and Finland is that our research base, while it is high quality, is relatively small compared to the US. It is not necessarily that we need more interactions between the university system and industry, as I pointed out, as a percentage of funding that is received. It is higher in the UK than it is in the US. The links are there. It is just whether or not there is a big enough mass of research. If we want to have a US-style innovation system, I am afraid we are going to have to pay for it and it is very, very expensive.

  Q447  Lord Broers: I would like you to broaden your comments a bit, rather than just talking about the universities and their willingness to interact with industry. I declare my own colours, having worked many years in Cambridge to make sure it happened. I think it does happen and it is very positive in this country. I do not see the same positive trends in industry in this country. I would compare that with German industry as well as with British industry. We have seen more sophisticated developments and we have seen Germany sustain its export base better than we have through sophisticated products, not just in the high tech business but across the whole area of the automotive industry, machine tool industries and things that we have given up. I would like you to comment on the question as to what is the ratio of expenditures on encouraging industrial research—R&D tax credits, whatever they might be—compared to just looking at the research inside universities and how we distribute the funding there.

  Sir Richard Brook: To consider the industrial aspect, there are all sorts of models for innovation and they are sector specific and so on. One which the trustees would back is that it is a matter of building almost the explosive mixture inside a container and then setting the spark to it and then something happens. The explosive mixture will consist of the skills, precisely the things that the SPRU group identified a long time ago with the six contributions which it identified from research. You want the skills there. You want the knowledge economy. That has to be there, but I think the view of my trustees would be that the creative spark often comes from the industry, from someone who may be quite young and quite close to the user community, to the eventual final application, the customer, in short. The statement which you are making about the contribution of research thinking within industry seems to me to be an absolutely crucial one. Different companies will have different attitudes towards it, but making sure that that element of the innovation container is in good shape seems to me a very important notion.

  Dr Nightingale: Could I come in on this element. As was pointed out, it is very, very sector specific. We can look to parts of the UK economy where it works very successfully. The pharmaceutical industry is extremely innovative. There is a huge amount of investment in R&D. They interact very, very closely with the university system and they actively engage in the science policy system in encouraging the direction of research towards areas that they believe are interesting. One of the lessons that we can learn there is the importance of competition and competition policy. It is a very, very competitive global industry where it is regulated and structured to encourage innovation. There is a worry if there are other sectors of industry which have different patterns of innovation that, if we try and support their innovation through a shift towards university research becoming more supportive of what they want to do, it will displace R&D. Rather than having a multiplier effect, we will end up with a decline in the amount of research that is ongoing and may decide that it is not worth doing. I do not think it is necessarily the case that the university system can support all sectors in changing innovation there. There are other levers of government policy which can be very, very effective. Education policy and competition policy are two.

  Professor Stirling: I just wanted to pick up another implication of Lord Broers's point on "pro-innovation" policies. There is no doubt at all about the scope in the UK for more effective deployment policies further "down" the "linear model" chain, as it were; in technology side. Tax breaks and so on are really crucial. But in the earliest stages, there is a sense in which the picture I painted earlier of the relative lack of authoritative information on the patterns of investment is reinforced and exacerbated by the way high-level politics tend to speak of these issues. We use the term "pro-innovation" probably more in the UK than even in other countries. We support "pro-innovation" policies. We talk about "science-based" decisions. When we confront scepticism about particular applications of technology, they are quite routinely critiqued as being "anti-science", to which the response is, "Let's be pro-science." That kind of very generic debate at the highest political levels, working downwards through the civil service and industry, I think compounds this problem of a lack of sensitivity to the fact that the real question is not about innovation or not. It is about the direction of the innovation in these different sectors. With high-level political debate simply restricted to, "Well, we are pro-innovation", we do not get to grips with which innovations and why, which is at the core of the dilemmas of prioritisation that the Committee is concerned with.

  Q448  Lord Crickhowell: Dr Nightingale has referred several times to comparative mass between different countries. One of the issues that has come up in some of our sessions is the question of concentration, whether we would do better to concentrate our efforts on the really outstanding research universities rather than spread the resources very widely as perhaps we do at present. Would you like to comment on that?

  Dr Nightingale: The issue directly relates to the overlap between science policy and education policy. The issue for the UK economy is that the high tech sectors which are directly feeding from the science system are quite small compared to the rest of the economy. There are marginal costs if we allocate resources towards particular areas. If we want to focus, as we may want to do, on biotech spin-out firms, then concentration might be a good idea. If we are concerned about the wider economy, then concentration probably is not a good idea. It is what outputs you want from the research system that will determine the answer to that question. Right now, as we have pointed out, it is not clear what the aims of the research system are and it is too broad just to say pro-innovation. There will be opportunity costs if we concentrate research resources in certain institutions. It is not at all clear from the science policy literature that I have read that there is a very good basis for a lot of the decisions about concentration resources in certain institutions. It is not necessarily the case that the best science is done in the best universities. It is not necessarily the case that the best science as judged by academic citations is the most useful research for industry. I will give you an empirical example. In the United States they have been extremely successful in producing biotech spin-out firms. If you look at the origins of the most successful biotech firms in California, they did not come from the elite institutions of Stamford and Berkeley, which were the Nobel Prize winners. More of them came from the University of California and San Francisco which would be a middle-range university, but that was much more focused on interdisciplinary, problem-based research which was easier to apply than the Nobel Prize winning research on the basis of cells which was ongoing in Stamford and Berkeley. Concentration assumes that there is a simple research excellence we can focus on and, unfortunately, I do not think the data we have support that. It is a much more complicated question. To be able to answer that, we need a clearer understanding about what the aims of government policy are and also much better data and methods which will inform you about what the correct decision would be. I am sorry, but I cannot give you an evidence-based answer to that.

  Sir Richard Brook: It depends, I think, on what criteria you are trying to establish. If you are wishing to come very high on the Jiaotong list, then of course you would concentrate very closely and you will do well as a consequence of that. But if you are wanting to ensure that communities around the country can be as productive and innovative as they wish, then I think you have to look much more widely. I do remember many, many years ago when I was at the EPSRC looking at The Times list of universities and a particular university, which I shall not mention, was at the bottom of the list. I went to look at it. The one conclusion to draw was that the community in which that university was placed was infinitely better because it existed.

  Chairman: I have to say I share your belief in the civic responsibility of universities.

  Q449  Baroness Perry of Southwark: There are two strands running here in what the three of you are saying. I must declare my own bias. I have a great deal of sympathy with Sir Richard's view that you put your money where the good people are and trust them to come up with the most exciting and innovative things. I think from Professor Stirling we were hearing a plea for more denigration of innovation unless it happens to be the kind of innovation that somebody—government or some senior body—has decided that they really want. Is there a balance here? Is one all right and the other all wrong? If there is a balance, have we got it right at the present time? Have we got too much central direction or not enough central direction? Surely there is, I would say, passionately a need to have part of research funding simply to allow flowers to bloom where there is soil which will produce pretty good flowers, even if they may not be the ones that you first thought of?

  Dr Nightingale: I would agree completely with you. I think there is a potential danger of trying to allocate research funding towards certain outcomes. It causes researchers to miss the opportunities that randomly come up. Serendipity plays a very important role in research. I can recall a discussion with Professor Weiss who has received huge amounts of research funding from the Medical Research Council and EPSRC and he has come up with lots of wonderful science, but often that science bore very little resemblance to what he originally bid for. There is an important role for serendipity. I think we should encourage people to undertake interesting research and I think that often is very valuable in that it informs teaching. A lot of the links that we have spoken about that create value for the country from research come from this. If you try and over-direct science, you can end up with poor quality science. One of the other elements which I think would be very important to stress which has not been stressed so far is the science policy research over the last 10 years has shown very clearly that academics are intelligent people who are able to market their research very effectively towards funders. There was a wonderful piece of research done by Jane Calvert, who is now at the University of Edinburgh, about whether or not research was basic or applied. The distinction between basic and applied research on research funding applications was dependent on what the researchers thought would be funded. If they thought applied research would be funded, it was applied research. If they thought basic research would be funded, they made it that. Also we are finding this to be the case with interdisciplinary research. There is an emphasis on, "Let's have more interdisciplinary research", and people now brand themselves as interdisciplinary researchers. It is not an easy system to change. We are dealing with people who are very clever and very good at marketing what they are doing, but I would stress that there is no support in the science policy literature for the idea that the research system can be managed effectively in a five-year plan essentially.

  Q450  Baroness Perry of Southwark: I worry about what you say, that the scientists are clever, because that means that they are allowing themselves to be directed.

  Dr Nightingale: Yes.

  Sir Richard Brook: It is the big argument for the responsive mode. We have only to say what we want and they all come offering exactly what we want. We even get telephone calls about the responsive mode. "What is it you would like us to put right?" I am nervous about that but if I may answer your question, you used the phrase "part of research funding". I think it is dangerous to expect the planning system to deal in one model with all the requirements placed upon it. Some research confronts a set of identified problems which society has, energy resource, the environment, all of these things, a particular disease, and there you can put a group of researchers together with some confidence in the target which they are going after; but you also want the system to deal with the exploration of unidentified opportunities. You have to let something happen even though you have not seen the target yet, but you know that something is going to arise there. You want a system which will satisfy both of those needs.

  Professor Stirling: If I may, in response to Baroness Perry's question of too much overbearing, top-down prioritisation, my point about striking the right balance was not that the balance is wrong now. It is that it is difficult to determine whether or not it is wrong and whether that is the case will depend on different views. Which is why we need to have this debate under way. This does not mean there is a case for overbearing co-ordination to the exclusion of bottom-up, spontaneous, scientific ideas and creativity of the kind you are talking about. There, though, it is not just a question of sponsoring excellence when it arises. It is a question of nurturing seed beds of excellence from which these productive, unexpected ideas can come forward. Although we do have a wealth of universities of very high standing internationally which we should treasure, there is not a one-to-one correspondence between excellence in the areas of science we are talking about now and those particular institutions. The excellence from which these ideas come is distributed in a more fine-grain way than at the level of these institutions alone. Also, ideas of excellence are more multidimensional than is currently credited. In particular, we have talked a number of times here about interdisciplinarity and it came up in the previous session also. Actually, there is a real tension between the ways in which we think about scientific excellence in some respects and interdisciplinarity. There is an evidence base to show that the metrics of excellence in citation terms and so forth manifestly tend to emphasise disciplinary excellence. Interdisciplinary effectiveness and excellence in those terms tend to be less visible in those kinds of metrics. It is easy to get into a sour grapes discourse on this but there is a problem here, I think, in nurturing especially interdisciplinarity in an excellent way.

  Q451  Lord Krebs: I would like to come back to something Sir Richard Brook mentioned earlier, namely the increasing threat that impact will be used to assess priorities for research funding particularly by HEFCE. I wondered what the three of you think of the role of impact and whether it is valuable in assessment of priorities. I just preface it by a quote from an article by Professor James Ladyman who says, "It is astonishing that ostensibly intelligent and knowledgeable people who are responsible for the higher education policy should evince the combination of philistinism and ignorance responsible for the ridiculous and deplorable ideology of impact now being foisted upon us". Is this a view with which you would agree?

  Sir Richard Brook: The trouble is that a quiet little word which is in itself quite reasonable has suddenly taken on all this baggage because it has become the central criterion by which research is to be judged. Then I think it is difficult. The funding councils and the research councils have reacted differently, I think. The Funding Council is making ex post use of impact. That is, you look back on the research you did 15 years ago and inform the Funding Council of the impact which it is currently having. There is a degree of legitimacy to that. There are facts involved. The research councils are making ex ante use of impact. That is, when you put in for a piece of research, you are supposed to say what the impact will be some 10 or 15 years afterwards. The opportunity for literary artistry there seems to me enormous and my worry, quite honestly, is that universities seeing this will set up departments of creative impact writing and things of this kind. It is potentially awkward there. The heads of the research councils have defended bravely the concept in trying to make it as reasonable as possible, but it is engendering a degree of scepticism among the applicant community: "Oh yes, we can write something there". It is a distraction from the central research theme with which they should be concerned.

  Dr Nightingale: The focus on impact has been a good thing in the past. I think it has been important in a cultural change in the university system which has been very positive. The level of interaction over the last 10 years, in my experience, has changed importantly, but I think it is very clear that diminishing returns have set in. It is very clear now—I speak anecdotally and from subjective, personal experience—that it is easier to fiddle impact measures than it is to do high-impact research. While on the one hand I think the science system very rightly should be responsive to the needs of the Government, should be responsive to the needs of the public, measuring impact is very, very difficult. Perhaps the focus should be less on measures which are so easy to fiddle and more on cultural change which seems to be working effectively. We have heard about how easy it is. An example is that universities were encouraged to form spin-out companies. It is very easy to form a company. I teach an entrepreneurship lecture in which I get on a mobile phone and I start a company in the middle of the lecture. Therefore, in a matter of hours I could produce 50 spin-out companies for my university which would go in government figures. Whether or not those spin-out companies will ever amount to anything is clearly questionable, to say the least. I think there is a need for some form of co-ordination, despite the problems of measuring impact. I think there is a need for some governance, some form of control. This is a very complicated system which needs to be understood and managed effectively. Managing by numbers has been an important part. I think we now need to move on to something else and recognise the severe limitations of it. One example I would give is on the interdisciplinary parts of it. I am an interdisciplinary researcher and the sort of research I do is directly interactive with industry. About a third of the papers I have written in the last five years have been with people from industry. It used to be for me a unique selling point. I could say, "This is interdisciplinary research. It is engaging with industry". That would give me something as an interdisciplinary researcher that I could use to support myself in a disciplined, focused research environment. Now everybody does that and I have nothing, so I think there needs to be a more sophisticated understanding of the sociology of the peer review process, informing the way research money is allocated and a recognition amongst everybody that there are limits to what these measures are. Sometimes these measures get institutionalised, as I think they have in the RAE and now the REF. There are diminishing returns but my overall view is that, for the science system, the social science system, the entire university research system, we take taxpayers' money and we have a responsibility towards the taxpayer to maximise the benefit to the public from that. Off that, I think some form of governance is important.

  Q452  Lord Oxburgh: I have two aspects really. Has your unit or have any of you observed changes in patterns of funding allocation in the progressively more stringent funding environment which has developed over the last year or 18 months? The second question is: given that things are not going to get better, as far as we can see, or at least not better quickly, are there particular pieces of advice that you wish to offer to funding authorities under those circumstances?

  Dr Nightingale: I am not aware of any research that has been done on this so I can only speak from personal experience, but I think there has been a very clear change in the types of research proposals which are going in and, from my own experience, they have become a lot safer. People are retreating into their disciplinary areas, so interdisciplinary engaged research is becoming more risky. In my particular institution people are all on soft money, or most of us are on soft money, so if we do not get funded, we do not get paid. That has people worried about their future income and they have taken the safe path. The policy implication of that, I would guess—again, this is anecdotal evidence, I have no research base on this beyond what I have seen—would be that there probably is a need to support certain groups which are likely to have less support in the next three to five years, so young researchers, interdisciplinary researchers, people crossing disciplinary boundaries, people who are doing particularly novel research I think will need some support.

  Professor Stirling: It is too early to say yet what will be the consequences of what is still largely a forthcoming stringency. I think, under those conditions, we are going to be particularly exposed to the dangers of this rather opaque process that I was alluding to earlier in that we have become particularly vulnerable under resource constraints to special interests, elite networks, dominant institutions and so forth; not to denigrate such things because there is usually a reason for privileged interest, but not usually to the degree that they exercise that influence. I think we are now particularly vulnerable, so my advice to policy makers would be that the increased stringency that is now on the horizon and beginning to happen is a particular argument for us to try to create a greater degree of transparency and accountability to the degree that priorities are being imposed on the research system, especially on the development system. We should be much more transparent and accountable about it without excluding more bottom-up, spontaneous, response mode ideas that come through the system.

  Q453  Lord Oxburgh: The implication of what you say is that the Trust which Sir Richard directs is going to play potentially a much more important role.

  Sir Richard Brook: That is the anticipation of the trustees. How has the atmosphere changed? I think the applicants send us bids which imply that they believe in a hidden agenda, that there is more to this than meets the eye. What is it they are really supposed to do? Which are the boxes they are really meant to tick? It does seem to me that, as the time of stringency comes, it is absolutely crucial to direct their attention back to the central research object, the need for quality in the research rather than sophistication in the box-filling. The trustees have enjoyed in these last few years a time when the income for the Trust has been greater than the money they have chosen to give out and, therefore, they have had special initiatives running over recent years, but they have said that now they must step back from that because they anticipate that in the next year or two demands upon the Trust will increase quite strikingly and they had better have something held in reserve.

  Lord Oxburgh: I am glad to hear it.

  Q454  Chairman: You referred to a caution on the part of those submitting proposals. Tying this in with what Sir Richard has just said, is this because the assumption is that award-givers will be more centrally focused in the money that they give out to the core disciplines that they represent? Are these correlated beliefs?

  Dr Nightingale: It is subjective, anecdotal evidence but my impression from reading lots of proposals and talking to people before and after they are submitted is that there is a sense in which the amount of money that is going to be given out is going to decline quite drastically and the university system will be putting more and more pressure on researchers to get that money, so there will be increased amounts of competition. There is anecdotal evidence that the award percentages are going down. Therefore, I think people will quite rationally become much more defensive in what they are doing. Speaking from personal experience, I have done it. I need money. I need to pay my salary, so I am not going to take risks.

  Chairman: Quite understood. May I thank you very much indeed for giving us your written evidence and your time today. If there are follow-up points that you feel you could either clarify or extend, please do let us have a note. We will send you the transcript very shortly. Thank you very much.



 
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