COMMONS

Committee tells Chancellor not to falter in last Budget of Parliament

18 March 2015

The Government has been warned today not to undo it's good work over the past Parliament and to ensure it properly funds both current and future investment in science.

Andrew Miller, Chair of the Committee said,

"It is a good day to look back over the work of this Parliament. Science and Technology is all about investment for the future. We have seen various issues in environment, health and IT, where proper investment in good science and technology should provide the Government with the best information upon which to base the spending of public money."

The report by the Science and Technology Committee looks back over the whole five year Parliament and has concerns that basic science is often seen as the easiest target in austerity hit government departments.

Andrew Miller commented that,

"The impact of cutting investment in departmental science budgets will not be immediate, but like any infrastructure left to fall into neglect, future repair bills are likely to be enormous".

Important funding decisions 

The Committee considers that the Government is right to see science as a crucial building block for growth but notes that the recently published science and innovation strategy left all the important funding decisions until today.

Mr Miller speculated on the budget,

"I am hoping that the Chancellor fulfils the potential of the strategy for science and innovation by ensuring that all of the capital investment announced will have long term sustainable funding streams necessary to deliver the outputs that deliver jobs and wealth creation more widely."

The Committee also warned the Government not to overdo its inward looking reviews of public spending on science.

Andrew Miller indicated that "It is right and proper that Government ensures it is getting value for money. I am worried however that, if the research councils are constantly under review, it will distract the organisations from delivering what they are there for and that ultimately there will be change, simply for change's sake."

Background

The Science and Technology Committee was established soon after the 2010 General Election. The remit of the Committee is to scrutinise the work of the Government Office for Science and how that office informs the rest of Government. As a result, the Committee, unlike other departmental select committees, roams across government departments and speaks with a variety of Government Ministers. In its Legacy inquiry the Committee spoke to Ministers from six different Government departments and re-visited all of its previous inquiries, updating itself as to the status of previous recommendations. This also provides the Committee with a cross-government perspective on science and technology issues.

Further information

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