HC Deb 23 January 1995 vol 253 cc14-5
28. Ms Glenda Jackson

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what proportion of research council funds in 1993–94 was allocated to the 12 institutions which are the largest consumers of those funds.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Office of Public Service and Science (Mr. Robert G. Hughes)

The amount allocated was £319 million, which is 50 per cent. of total grant awards.

Ms Jackson

What justification can there be for allocating half the research council funds to a mere handful of institutions? Is that not a return to the, surely discredited, binary system which favoured research-based over teaching-based institutions? What plans do the Government have to ensure that future research council funds will be more widely and evenly distributed?

Mr. Hughes

The hon. Lady is utterly wrong. The awards are made on the basis of merit, which is something that I do not expect the Labour party particularly to understand. Awards are made on the basis of a full and fair external peer review, not political diktat. That is the way in which to do it and that is the way in which we shall continue to do it.

Mr. Fabricant

With the exciting news today that Britain may soon have the largest pharmaceutical company in the world, with the possible merger of Glaxo and Wellcome, can my hon. Friend tell us the extent to which the research councils, especially since the publication of the science White Paper, are being encouraged to co-operate with industry in research and development?

Mr. Hughes

We always encourage full co-operation. Indeed, through the technology foresight process, there has been unprecedented co-operation between business, academics and scientists. That is very much to be welcomed. As my hon. Friend says, the strength of Britain's pharmaceutical industry and, indeed, of all our chemical industry is impressive. It is important that we should spread that drive and enthusiasm to the rest of our science and engineering industries.

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