HC Deb 16 October 1995 vol 264 cc17-8
35. Dr. Charles Goodson-Wickes

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what responsibilities have been transferred from his Department since 1 July. [35889]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Office of Public Service (Mr. John Horam)

The Office of Science and Technology has transferred to the Department of Trade and Industry.

Dr. Goodson-Wickes

As co-chairman of the all-party group, the Friends of Medical Research, I am disturbed that, in the last funding round, only 30 per cent. of the Medical Research Council's bids for Alpha funding were granted, against the usual figure of around 100 per cent. Will my hon. Friend assure the House that such projects are important to ensure that the brain drain is reversed and that medical research will not fall between the twin stools of his Department and the Department of Trade and Industry?

Mr. Horam

I know that my hon. Friend follows these matters very closely, so he will be aware that we have succeeded in keeping constant in real terms the overall science budget at about £1.3 billion a year. Included in that is a hefty share for medical research. Obviously, I cannot commit my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, whose responsibility that is, but I am sure from my conversations with him that he is well aware of the importance and success of medical research in this country and that he will do his best to keep up funding.

Mr. Henderson

I can understand that the Minister may have some difficulty knowing whether he is deputy to the Deputy or deputy to the deputy to the Deputy, but given the new supervisory regime in the Department, and the demise of the cones hotline, will he now tell us what the three top priorities for the citizens charter are, and who decided them?

Mr. Horam

I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman himself knows who he is deputy to—perhaps what happens on Thursday will have some say in that. The fact is that the citizens charter's priorities remain as they always were—to produce a better quality public service.

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