HC Deb 10 December 1986 vol 107 cc160-1W
Mr. Lawler

asked the Prime Minister what measures the Government are adopting to improve the exploitation by industry of publicly funded research and development.

The Prime Minister

It is essential that advances in science, whether they occur in universities, Government laboratories or industry, are rapidly exploited to develop new products and improved services for sale by British industry and commerce in world markets. To this end we are giving particular priority to the development of improved partnership arrangements between industry, Government Departments and research institutions of all kinds. I attach great importance to this work, which will receive further impetus under an initiative called LINK.

Under LINK, the Government will spend £210 million over the next five years on research programmes which will bring together industry and publicly funded scientists on a collaborative basis. Industry will meet at least half the cost of these programmes, which will cover a wide range of new science and technology. All Government Departments with a significant R and D expenditure will take part in LINK, but the principal sponsors will be the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Education and Science, which will be announcing today further details of the programme.

The total of Government expenditure on R and D is very substantial, both absolutely and as a proportion of the national income, and bears comparison with all other technologically advanced countries. But the excellence of British science has not been matched by a rapid pace of application by British industry of the newly emerging technologies. Nor is the private sector investing as much of its own resources in R and D in this country as are our more successful competitors. For their part the Government are therefore actively reviewing their R and D programmes across all Departments, defence as well as civil, with the objective of increasing their contribution towards improving the efficiency, competitiveness and innovative capacity of British industry. Both the Advisory Council on Applied Research and Development (ACARD) and the Advisory Board on the Research Councils (ABRC) are assisting in this exercise and an assessment office on science and technology has been established in the Cabinet Office under the chief scientific adviser.

Mr. Sumberg

asked the Prime Minister when the 1986 "Annual Review of Government Funded (R & D)" will be published.

The Prime Minister

"The Annual Review of Government Funded R & D 1986", the fourth in the series, will be published through Her Majesty's Stationery Office on Thursday, 11 December. I am arranging for copies to be placed in the House of Commons Library.

"The Annual Review of Government Funded R & D" was first announced in the Government's response (Cmnd. 8591) to the House of Lords Select Committee report "Science and Government" in 1982. The review is prepared annually by the chief scientific adviser, Cabinet Office under the guidance of the interdepartmental committee of chief scientists.