HL Deb 01 February 1999 vol 596 cc177-8WA
Baroness Denton of Wakefield

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What are the policy priorities for the Biotechnology and Sciences Research Council; and which Minister authorises these. [HL575]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is a non-departmental public body established by Royal Charter under the Science and Technology Act 1965 which takes its own decisions on policy, strategy, and what research to support, operating within a broad framework of guidance and supervision by government. The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry is accountable to Parliament for the activities of the council and determines the broad policy framework within which the council operates. He is supported by myself as Science Minister and the Director-General of Research Councils and the Office of Science and Technology (OST). Further details of the formal relationship are set out in the Management Statement and Financial Memorandum between the BBSRC and OST, a copy of which is available in the Library.

On 27 October, the Secretary of State announced the allocation of the Science Budget to the Research Councils, including the BBSRC, and indicated the broad areas of activity to which he would wish the council to give attention. A copy of the allocations announcement is available in the Library and on the OST website.

The BBSRC will publish a new strategic plan later in the year which will take account of the science budget allocations and set out the council's objectives for the next few years.

The BBSRC reports through an annual report approved by the Secretary of State and laid before Parliament. Copies of the 1997–98 report are available in the Library.