HL Deb 23 January 1984 vol 447 cc131-2WA
Lord Houghton of Sowerby

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why commercial laboratories are not eligible for funding from the Medical Research Council, the Science Research Council, or the Agricultural Research Council to support research projects designed solely to develop alternative and humane non-animal techniques of research.

The Earl of Swinton

The research councils are funded mainly by annual grants-in-aid from the Science Budget via the Department of Education and Science. The councils' primary role is the support of basic scientific research in the universities, polytechnics and similar institutions and in their own establishments. Commercial organisations are themselves expected to fund research relevant to their interests and it is not in general appropriate for them to apply for grant support from the research councils. This applies equally to the type of research specified by the noble Lord as to all other types of research.

The research councils are nevertheless able to place contracts with private sector bodies for specific research and development projects which are essential to the achievement of the councils' scientific objectives and which could not be carried out in the public sector. In addition, the Medical Research Council and the Science and Engineering Research Council have schemes to encourage collaboration between university departments and commercial organisations under which they will consider funding, through a grant to the university, its contribution to a joint research project between the university and a company.