HC Deb 11 December 1973 vol 866 c193
23. Mr. Rhodes

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the current size of the grant she makes to the Medical Research Council.

Mrs. Thatcher

The Estimates for 1973–74 provide for a grant in aid of about £25½ million from my Department to the Medical Research Council.

Mr. Rhodes

Just what control has the Department over this large sum of money once it has been disbursed? For example, in view of the shambles left behind by the MRC subsequent to the sacking of the director of the multiple sclerosis research unit at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, does the Minister not feel that it is high time she intervened more directly and ascertained whether this £25 million is being spent efficiently? Just where does public accountability come into this matter?

Mrs. Thatcher

I am advised on the allocation of research budget money by the advisory board for the Medical Research Council, which has on it distinguished scientists, representatives of the Departments and independent members. On the whole, I have accepted its advice and I have every confidence in the way in which the boards of the research councils conduct their affairs.