§ Mr. Anthony Coombs
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he has received the annual report of the Medical Research Council for 1990–91; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Alan Howarth
As required by the Science and Technology Act 1965, the council has submitted its annual report for 1990–91 to the Secretary of State, and we are placing a copy before the House today.
I have read the report with interest, and was encouraged to note how much of the council's recent research will be of rapid and practical benefit to the nation's health needs. Examples of such research include the discovery of the underlying cause of the commonest inherited disposition to heart disease; the discovery of a direct relation between impaired growth in the womb and high blood pressure in adult life; and the results of the largest-ever trial of surgery, which showed that an operation to clear the carotid arteries could halve the risk of serious strokes in high-risk patients.
The MRC also attaches great importance to continuing research in the basic biological sciences, and I congratulate it on its discovery, in collaboration with the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, of the gene responsible for maleness. I also applaud the news of continuing successful collaboration with industry which has led to increased income for the MRC and a Queen's award.