§ Mr. Eggar
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he is satisfied that enough is being done to encourage more private sector resources to be devoted to research and development.
§ Mr. Pattie
The Government place considerable emphasis on the need to encourage industrial research and development and has taken practical steps to support it. The number of research and development projects approved for assistance under the Science and Technology Act increased from 356 in 1979–80 to 1612 in 1983–84. The funds allocated for general industrial research and development support grew from £60 million to £200 million over the same period.
Our measures have had a significant and widespread impact. Industry now better appreciates the importance of research and development for its future viability. This together with the improvement over the last three years in profitability and liquidity in industry and commerce has resulted in increased demand for Government support for research and development. In consequence the 1985–86 allocation for innovation grants is now virtually committed.
In view of this I have decided to review the balance of the Department's support for industrial research and development. Whilst this is being undertaken and with immediate effect no further application will be accepted for:research and development projects from individual firms on standard support for innovation termsdevelopment and investment projects under the microelectronics industry support scheme and the fibre-optics and opto-electronics scheme andapplication, development and installation projects for flexible manufacturing systems and robots.
Formal applications that have already been received by the Department will be processed within the limited funds still available.
The review will be completed within five months. I will announce the conclusions at that time. That will also be the occasion for introducing the new arrangements for regrouping all the Department's assistance schemes announced by my right hon. Friend on 27 July.