§ Sir David Price
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how he intends to achieve the Government's general aim to maintain and enhance the quality of public funded scientific research and its appropriateness; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Brooke
My right hon. Friend intends to achieve the Government's general aim to maintain and enhance the quality of public-funded scientific research and its appropriateness bygreater concentration and selectivity of research activities better management, yielding greater value for money increased flexibility, enabling faster response to new scientific opportunitiescloser and better working with industry.
The Government's expenditure plans, as set out in Cmnd. 9428, provide for additional provision of £18 million over the next three years to re-equip selected university research departments to the highest standards. The plans also provide for an additional £27 million for the research councils and other science Vote-funded bodies to help to increase their flexibility; and to allow them to finance more top quality research proposals and to acquire and exploit more fully major equipment and facilities. The research councils have agreed to prepare corporate plans this year which will involve systematic review of their priorities, programmes and management. I am having regular meetings with the heads of the research councils individually to discuss these plans; measures to secure better value for money and the operation of the peer review system. My right hon. Friend is trying to bring the research laboratory and industry closer together encouraging academic researchers to undertake contract work for industry and by giving them greater incentive to exploit the commercial potential of their inventions.