HC Deb 02 May 1989 vol 152 cc5-6
4. Mr. Hood

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what addition has been made to the science budget to meet the cost of salary increases of technicians employed by research councils, following the recent award to technicians employed by universities.

Mr. Jackson

The technicians' union has not yet agreed the pay offer made to it last month by the employers on the universities committee for non-teaching staffs in universities. I understand, however, that the negotiating parties are meeting again today.

Mr. Hood

By how much has the cost of research councils risen since the Secretary of State's announcement of this year's science budget?

Mr Jackson

I do not have that information immediately to hand, but I remind the House that in last year's public expenditure survey there was a substantial increase in the research council's vote of about 10 per cent. in real terms. That ought to be enough to cope with the current rises, including the rise in technicians' salaries. However, we shall have to examine in later years the consequences of this year's public expenditure survey.

Dr. Bray

It was clear, however, that a substantial proportion of the 10 per cent. increase would not be directed to both the new and the expanded research programmes, about which the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister made such a song and dance, particularly in relation to the global environment. A substantial part of that increase has had to be earmarked for salary increases for technicians and scientists. Have the Government been successful in obtaining an increase in the science budget comparable with that which they have obtained for the universities?

Mr. Jackson

The hon. Gentleman is always trying to look a gift horse in the mouth. There was a very substantial improvement in the amount of money made available last year. The hon. Gentleman speaks as though salaries and staff are not part of the cost of the science vote, but they are a major part of the cost of that vote. That cost is reflected in the increase.