HC Deb 14 February 1994 vol 237 cc660-1
31. Mr. Day

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what steps have been taken so far to develop proposals set out in the science and technology White Paper.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. William Waldegrave)

The orders for the new research councils have been approved and I have appointed all but one of the new chairmen and chief executives. Sir John Cadogan has started as Director-General of Research Councils and, on his advice, I have allocated £15.5 million of the science budget in 1994–95 for special initiatives in support of White Paper policies. The Council for Science and Technology has met twice. I expect shortly to announce details of our technology foresight programme. The first forward look of science and technology policy will be published in April.

Mr. Day

My right hon. Friend will be aware of the importance of that White Paper to my constituency, with its deep involvement and that of surrounding constituencies in high technology industries. Does he agree that the recent speech by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee set out clearly the Government's commitment to the future of science and technology as set out in the White Paper? Does he further agree that it is vital to industries not only in and around my constituency but throughout the country that the White Paper and scientific and technological development are successful in future?

Mr. Waldegrave

I firmly agree with my hon. Friend. My right hon. Friend's important speech to the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee was well received. There is general all-party agreement that we need to apply science and technology more effectively to wealth creation and to the improvement of our people.

Mr. Miller

When will we see real progress with the foresight programme? The Minister says that there is broad agreement for the need to make progress, but we really need action. Otherwise, the right hon. Gentleman will just go down as being the Minister for the "foresight saga".

Mr. Waldegrave

The technology foresight programme must involve real consensus among its partners from industry, academia and Government. I shall announce towards the end of this month or early next month the conclusions of the widespread consultations that we held. The programme will be in action this year.