INNOVATION, UNIVERSITIES, SCIENCE & SKILLS COMMITTEE

Select Committee Press Release

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5 June 2009


IUSS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN RESPONDS TO NEWS THAT DIUS IS TO BE DISBANDED

Phil Willis MP, Chairman of the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee, today issued the following statement in response to the announcement that the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills is to be disbanded:

“Machinery of Government changes announced on 28 June 2007 created a new Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills.  Today, just short of its second birthday DIUS is to merge with the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform to become the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

“It is fair to say that DIUS has had a rocky two years.  The Cabinet Office Capability Review scored it poorly in several key areas.  The impact of separating different elements of the education system has led to problems particularly in Further Education and this may have been a contributory factor in the current problems with the capital programme for Further Education Colleges. 

“The real casualty of this ill-thought out re-organisation is the nation’s strategic science base. The opportunity has not been taken to move the Government Office for Science to the Cabinet Office, as we have recommended in the past.  Science needs a stable home at the heart of government policy. I am disappointed that while the Government pays lip service to the strategic importance of science and its central role in the country’s economic recovery its place within government seems to have been treated as a bargaining chip passed around departments without due care for its importance. Any further diminution of our basic science capacity could prove disastrous for the nation.

“Turning to my Committee, although we have had challenges to overcome in doing justice to the multiple facets of DIUS, I am proud of what we have achieved and pay tribute to the commitment of Committee members. We have recognised the disparate nature of the DIUS portfolio but making the task even more complex by combining the whole of its remit with BERR will only make scrutiny even more difficult. There is now an opportunity to at least give science and engineering its own scrutiny committee and I will be writing to the Leader of the House asking for consideration to be given to the creation of a Committee on Science and Engineering when the IUSS Committee is itself disbanded.”

Ends.