HC Deb 31 October 1990 vol 178 cc983-4
15. Mr. Moss

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on his Department's and Her Majesty's Government's research and development expenditure as a percentage of gross domestic product; and what comparable information he has in respect of Japan.

Mr. Lilley

Total Government-funded research and development as a percentage of gross domestic product was 1.0 per cent. in 1988. This was twice the corresponding figure for Japan.

Mr. Moss

As my right hon. Friend is well aware, the Cambridge phenomenon has had important side-effects elsewhere in East Anglia and I hope that those effects will increase in my constituency in the future. Will my right hon. Friend confirm that he is encouraging industry to collaborate with university and polytechnic science and technology departments to establish science parks and other developments?

Mr. Lilley

My hon. Friend makes an important point. The success of science-based industries around Cambridge is due to the close collaboration between industry and the university science base there. We are anxious to encourage that throughout the country and so have encouraged the establishment of science parks around universities—there are now 39 of them and another 19 are planned. I am anxious that we should consider building more around polytechnics and Government research establishments so that they can benefit from similar effects.

Mr. Cousins

Does the Secretary of State accept that the LINK scheme to promote links between industry and higher education, which his Department launched, is in a state of collapse because of the ridiculous red tape and restrictions surrounding the rules of that scheme? That is evidenced by the withdrawal from LINK of Celltech, an important new British high technology company, only this week.

Mr. Lilley

No, I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's premise. We are introducing a new scheme in which it will be much easier for small companies to participate without having to go to the length of collaborating with a range of other companies. An increasing number of applications and programmes are going ahead under the LINK scheme. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will welcome that and be pleased to know that he was mistaken.

Mr. Conway

Has industry's funding of research and development decreased or increased during the Government's term of office?

Mr. Lilley

Research and development by private industry, which is most important and valuable, has increased substantially since industry's profitability increased. Over the past five years research and development by business went up by 50 per cent. We have increasingly focused Government support on getting better co-operation between universities and the science base and industry.

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