HC Deb 20 July 1982 vol 28 cc202-3
14. Mr. Foulkes

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will reconsider the composition of the Social Science Research Council.

Mr. William Shelton

I cannot anticipate my right hon. Friend's response to Lord Rothschild's report.

Mr. Foulkes

Is the Minister aware of growing concern that the Social Science Research Council is becoming increasingly politically biased in its allocation of funds to the economic departments of universities that support the Government's monetarist policies compared with those, such as that at Cambridge, that disagree fundamentally with the Government's monetarist views?

Mr. Shelton

The hon. Gentleman might not be aware that Lord Rothschild conducted an inquiry into the Social Science Reseach Council, the report of which has been published. The period for comment upon that report ended yesterday. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will reply to that report, having seen those comments, in due course.

Dr. Hampson

Is my hon. Friend aware that charges that we are politically loading the Social Science Research Council are spurious? When one considers the appointments that have been made by former Labour Administrations, including a noble lord, recently appointed to the other place, it shows plainly that this is blatant Labour politicking. My hon. Friend is right to take a firm line with the council to ensure that its money is spent in a cost-effective way.

Mr. Shelton

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his support. However, one cannot pre-judge my right hon. Friend's decisions on Lord Rothschild's report.

Mr. Whitehead

May we prompt the Minister a little? In view of the Secretary of State's intention to wind up the SSRC last autumn without any inquiry, what is the Minister's comment on Lord Rothschild's verdict that that would be an act of intellectual vandalism, which is an implicit criticism of the Secretary of State?

Mr. Shelton

May I suggest to the hon. Gentleman that he has got it the wrong way round? The very fact that my right hon. Friend asked the noble Lord to make his report shows my right hon. Friend's open-mindedness and his fair approach.