§ 25. Mr. Gunnell
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what proportion of the research councils' budget was spent on basic research in 1993–94.
§ The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. David Hunt)
The relevant information will be published in "Forward Look" in May.
§ Mr. Gunnell
I am afraid that that is not particularly helpful. Can the Chancellor guarantee that money for basic research will be made available to each research council; that he has no plans to reduce either the total or the individual amounts made available to research councils for that purpose in the next financial year; and that an appropriate amount of consultation is taking place between his Department, the research councils and the research institutions in regard to basic research?
§ Mr. Hunt
It is not for me to criticise the nature of the hon. Gentleman's question; I must simply answer it.
As for the hon. Gentleman's supplementary questions, he will know that I announced the allocations for the various research councils only a few days ago, in our debate on science. Of course I am strongly committed to maintaining the necessary spending on basic research. It may assist the hon. Gentleman to know that, in 1992–93, 47.4 per cent. of OPSS-funded research and development expenditure went on basic research.
§ Mr. Simon Coombs
Is it not a fact that there has been a real-terms increase of 30 per cent. in the science budget since 1979? Is it not also a fact that more than 92 per cent. of the science research councils' budget goes on research, whether basic or strategic? Is this not a good opportunity for my right hon. Friend to join me in congratulating the staff of the research councils whose headquarters are in my constituency on the excellent value for money that they provide in administering their budgets?
§ Mr. Hunt
I not only confirm the statistics given by my hon. Friend, but take this opportunity to congratulate him personally on the extensive representations that he makes on behalf of the five research councils situated in his constituency.
It is indeed a fact that, in 1992–93, 92.3 per cent. of the research and development element of the science budget was directed towards curiosity-driven research. As I have said, 47.4 per cent. of the budget was spent on basic research; 44.9 per cent. was spent on strategic research. That is an important investment for the future of the United Kingdom.