HC Deb 16 April 1981 vol 3 cc277-8W
Mr. Skinner

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will now provide increased funding for research into biotechnology; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. MacGregor

The Department of Industry recognises that biotechnology is of rapidly growing importance. The number of applications from industry for support of research and development through the Department's research requirements boards is increasing and this will lead to more money from the Department being allocated to this subject, within the current constraints on public expenditure.

Government policy on biotechnology has been set out in the recent White Paper—Cmnd. 8177—this emphasised that the main responsibility for turning scientific discoveries into useful products and services must rest with industry. There are, however, occasions when public bodies can help. In addition to the assistance from the taxpayer for R& in industry, support for basic research in biotechnology is provided by the research councils.

Professor Michael Beesley on the economic implications of private sector competition with British Telecom; and whether he proposes to take any action on the report.

Mr. Kenneth Baker

The report was published yesterday. As my right hon. Friend told the House in his statement, while the Government are attracted by Professor Beesley's recommendations, these are far-reaching and he is therefore inviting views over the next two months before coming to detailed decisions in July.