HC Deb 19 November 1985 vol 87 cc130-1
9. Mr. Alton

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many university mathematics and science lecturers have been appointed over the last year and are expected to be appointed over the next year.

Mr. Brooke

Statistics on university academic appointments generally in 1984–85 are not yet available. However, about 260 new posts in mathematics, science and engineering were created last year under the "new blood" and information technology initiatives. Further new posts in those disciplines will be established over the coming year as a result of those initiatives and of the engineering and technology programme announced in March.

Mr. Alton

How does the Minister respond to the National Audit Office report, which states that his higher education policies have led to unnecessary chaos and disruption? Is it not ironic that he is now having to recruit new posts, especially in the sciences, when his policy only four years ago led to massive cuts in the same higher education posts?

Mr. Brooke

The report of the National Audit Office is the subject of question No. 12. The reductions effected between 1981 and 1984 were in response to public expenditure restraints. It is widely acknowledged that there have also been benefits flowing from the new blood over and above the replenishment to which the hon. Gentleman has referred.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

Does the Minister not firmly agree that the whole future economic prosperity of this country depends on a highly trained and educated labour force, particularly in science and technology? Why are the Government insisting that all university science and mathematics departments should at least consider the implications of a 2 per cent. cut for each of the next five years? It is appalling that people should be taken away from their teaching and research roles to spend a considerable amount of time planning for cuts which clearly will be economically distastrous for the country.

Mr. Brooke

The hon. Member knows perfectly well that if the UGC had not included science, engineering and technology in its planning exercise, he would have been the first to be on his feet to say that the cuts in the arts and humanities were too severe.