HC Deb 19 July 1993 vol 229 c14
24. Mr. Coe

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what representations he has received from the British Association for the Advancement of Science since the publication of the science and engineering White Paper.

Mr. Waldegrave

I have been in regular touch with the British Association. I recently addressed a conference on science, technology and wealth creation, organised by the association's science and industry committee, and I was glad to hear the chairman of that committee, Sir Denis Rooke, give the White Paper a warm welcome.

Mr. Coe

I welcome my hon. Friend's answer. I know that he is keen to enhance the public's understanding of science and technology, a process which is central to re-establishing in the British psyche the importance of our manufacturing industries. Can I urge him to attend his summer's science festival, organised by the British Association?

Mr. Waldegrave

The summer festival of the British Association is one of the major shop windows for science and technology, and has been very successful for a number of years. I look forward to addressing the festival on 2 September and I hope to attend every year.

Mr. Miller

Does the Chancellor share my concern that the City has yet to take on board the impact of the White Paper? Is it correct that only nine City representatives turned up at the conference referred to by the hon. Member for Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Coe)? Does he think that more work has to be done to persuade the City of the importance of science and technology?

Mr. Waldegrave

I share the hon. Gentleman's disappointment. The British Association took the trouble to hold the conference in the heart of the City geographically and it was dissapointing that more people did not attend. It is essential that those who have power and investment in the country understand that long-term investment will best be protected in companies that carry out research and development properly.

Sir Giles Shaw

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the British Association was one of many representational bodies to comment on his White Paper and does he agree that the vast majority of comments have been favourable? Equally, does he agree that many such bodies look forward to a distribution between defence research and development and civil research and development? Has he any comment to make about the prospects on that front?

Mr. Waldegrave

I am grateful to my hon. Friend and believe that he is right that the White Paper has been broadly welcomed and accepted as a starting point. That is how I would answer my hon. Friend's second question. The White Paper must be seen as a starting point for further work. There is much more to do, and if the transformation that we need in our industry and society is to be achieved it will not be done overnight.