HC Deb 27 March 1995 vol 257 cc689-90
32. Mr. Simon Coombs

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will pay a visit to the research councils in Swindon to discuss funding. [14211]

Mr. Horam

I hope to visit the research councils shortly to discuss both funding and other issues. It is a high priority.

Mr. Coombs

Is my hon. Friend aware that the recent increase in the science budget was warmly welcomed by the research councils? Does he agree with me that the success of National Science Week is likely to lead in due course to a large increase in demands for the science budget to be enlarged—supported, as it was, not only by my hon. Friend and my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy, but by the BBC and by staff at the research councils in Swindon?

Mr. Horam

I was glad that the research councils played a significant part in the whole of National Science Week. They established a video link whereby young people could question the director-general of science, research and development in the Brussels Commission on his priorities. I found that very interesting. They also ran a science quiz, which I gather operated successfully around all the pubs in Swindon, although I think that that was a rather more light-hearted approach.

Mr. Dalyell

What is the Government's response to the proposal by the Royal Microscopical Society, backed by research councils, that it is highly desirable that there should be a microscope in every school, if only to increase the sense of wonder that is so important in education?

Mr. Horam

Decisions on such matters are rightly for the research councils, but I will consider what the hon. Gentleman says. It is an interesting suggestion.