HC Deb 20 July 1987 vol 120 cc2-3W
Mr. Sumberg

asked the Prime Minister when the Government's response to the First Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on science and technology on civil research and development, Session 1986–87, will be published.

The Prime Minister

The Government's response to the First Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on science and technology is today being presented to Parliament. The Government are grateful to the Committee for its full and considered review of civil research and development. The response recognises the importance of increasing the civil share of the very substantial sums allocated to publicly funded R & D. The Government agree with the Committee that the main responsibility for investing in development rests with industry; its own role is to create a climate in which industry is encouraged to do so. Some sectors have responded and are increasing investment in R & D: others need to do more.

The White Paper announces a strengthening of the central arrangements for improving the contribution of Government funded R&D to the efficiency, competitiveness and innovative capacity of the United Kingdom. The main steps are the collective ministerial consideration, under my leadership, of science and technology priorities, and the establishment of the Advisory Council on Science and Technology (ACOST) which will report to me. The Advisory Council for Applied Research and Development (ACARD) will be absorbed within ACOST with widened membership and terms of reference to embrace all science and technology. Public spending on science and technology will be directed towards areas of high national priority by an annual assessment of new opportunities drawing on the advice of ACOST and on the work of the new Centre for Exploitation of Science and Technology.

The response welcomes the general thrust of the Select Committee's thinking on research councils and higher education. The Government are seeking comments on the Advisory Board for the Research Council's (ABRC) proposals for greater concentration and more purposive management of research resources as set out in "A Strategy for the Science Base," which is published today. The White Paper also announces a review by the Department of Trade and Industry of its role in supporting and encouraging innovation in industry; and the publication today of a study by Inland Revenue and Her Majesty's Treasury officials of tax incentives for R & D spending in 10 developed countries.

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