HC Deb 23 November 1988 vol 142 c3W
Mr. Harry Greenway

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he has received the annual report of the Economic and Social Research Council for 1987–88; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Kenneth Baker

The annual report of the Economic and Social Research Council for 1987–88 has been submitted to me under the requirements of the Science and Technology Act 1965, and a copy is being laid before the House today.

I was most interested to study the report and, in an eventful and difficult year for the council, I was particularly encouraged to note:

  1. (i) the publication of the Report on Horizons and Opportunities in the Social Sciences, setting new directions for Social Science research into the 1990s and confirming that British Social Science is outstandingly good in international terms over a range of disciplines;
  2. (ii) the continued improvement in PhD thesis submission rates for students supported by the Council, in response to the firm application of sanctions and the encouragement given by the Council to improvements in doctoral research training;
  3. (iii) the launch of important new research programmes on Countryside Change, Risk and Pollution; AIDS; New Technologies and the Firm; and Transport;
  4. (iv) The streamlining of ESRC's organisational structure to provide a clearer framework for the setting of priorities, improved management of research, protection of curiosity-driven research funded through the Research Grants Scheme, and increased emphasis on the evaluation and dissemination of research output.
I congratulate the council on its achievements and look forward to further progress under the guidance of the new ESRC chairman.

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