HC Deb 22 April 1987 vol 114 cc666-8
21. Mr. Freud

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on Her Majesty's Government's policy with regard to co-ordinated research and development through the European Economic Community.

Mrs. Chalker

We believe that Community research has an important role to play in promoting the competitiveness of European industry. Resources must be concentrated on this objective. The taxpayer finances both national and Community research programmes and has a right to expect value for money from both.

Mr. Freud

Having ignored the advice of our research professors and failed to give the support to research and development that British scientists needed, will the hon. Lady assure the House that she will take more heed of, and listen more carefully to, representations in respect of the European Community?

Mrs. Chalker

Had the hon. Gentleman been able to hear Question 2 he would have heard me say exactly what we believe, which is that Community research has an important role to play in promoting competitiveness in European industry. However, I say to the hon. Gentleman again, as I have said to others, that we must have research properly targeted. What this country and the European Community need is winners, not white elephants, and we must examine every penny that: is spent on research.

Sir Peter Emery

Will my hon. Friend look at the views being expressed by the science and technology committee of the North Atlantic Assembly, which urges European Governments to co-ordinate and not duplicate certain of the research and development, so that greater benefit can be spread throughout the whole of the Community?

Mrs. Chalker

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The reason why we have sought to examine with the greatest care how the resources in the European research and development framework programme are targeted is simply that we wish to complement and not to duplicate. That is something that we shall continue to do, because it is illusory to think that the framework programme could transform our international position, but it could be useful in broadening the research that is already being done by member nations.