HC Deb 02 December 1992 vol 215 cc263-4
15. Mr. Connarty

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what investment programmes are planned to assist the development of new products arising from technology transfer programmes; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Leigh

The Department has a number of technology transfer and investment programmes directed at encouraging industry to address the development of new products.

To date there are no plans for further investment programmes.

Mr. Connarty

That is a very disappointing reply. Is the Minister aware that much of the breakthrough in fibre optics technology was developed in the research laboratories of the United Kingdom? Does he share my concern and that of the Scottish business community that 50 per cent. of those awarded doctorates in fibre optronics in Scottish universities are working in the research laboratory of one United States telecommunications manufacturer? Will he give us an assurance, or any indication, that he has any programme at all to ensure that he will do better in the development of future industries for this country than he is doing at the moment in defence of our traditional industries?

Mr. Leigh

Contrary to what the hon. Gentleman has implied, the United Kingdom spends about £3 billion a year on civil R and D, which is quite as much per head as Japan. My own Department's programme amounts to about £100 million a year which is split between technology transfer—[Interruption.] It is no good the hon. Gentleman pointing his finger at me; he may learn something if he listens. One third goes on technology programmes, one third on pre-competitive research and one third on collaboration programmes. We have a programme which is effective and well targeted, but I am sure that, if the hon. Gentleman does not agree, the paltry two Labour Members who stood just now to announce that they had worked in manufacturing industry—unlike the rest of them—would accept that the best form of R and D is that funded and financed by industry itself.

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