§ Lord Sherfield
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they are now in a position to respond to the Report of the Science and Technology Committee on Science and Government.
§ Baroness Young
We are publishing today our response to the First Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Science and Technology, on "Science and Government", Cmnd. 8591. The response emphasises our gratitude to the Select Committee for a valuable and stimulating review, and we accept the main thrust of its report that we have a responsibility to ensure that scientific and technological issues are taken properly into account in policy-making.
Among the measures announced in the White Paper are broader terms of reference for the Advisory Council for Applied Research and Development (ACARD); closer links between ACARD and the Advisory Board for the Research Councils (ABRC); the introduction of periodic reports on science and technology; the establishment of a Committee of Departmental Chief Scientists; improved links between those responsible for civil and for defence research; and the introduction of a system of Annual Reviews of Research, intended to make our research effort more effective.
In their report, the Select Committee recommended the establishment of a Council on Science and Technology, but we consider that our objectives can be achieved by the better co-ordination of the work of ACARD and ABRC (which will be facilitated by the arrangements summarised above). The Committee also recommended that a Cabinet Minister should be designated to speak for science and technology. But the improvements outlined in our response, taken together with the Prime Minister's personal coordinating role, mean that scientific and technological issues will be given proper attention. We are therefore satisfied that the present ministerial arrangements will continue to work well and will meet the Select Committee's objectives.