Select Committee on Science and Technology

No. 29A of Session 2006-07 3 April 2007

PUBLICATION OF REPORT

OFFICE OF SCIENCE AND INNOVATION: SCRUTINY REPORT 2005 AND 2006

The merger of the former Office of Science and Technology and the Innovation Group of the DTI to form the Office of Science and Innovation (OSI) has been a success, the Science and Technology Select Committee conclude today.

In its Report on OSI Scrutiny 2005 and 2006, the Committee examines the restructuring of the OSI which took place in April 2006. Whilst it is generally supportive of the changes, it recommends that the "OSI must remain alert to the potential of closer integration with the DTI to compromise its role in looking at science across the whole of Government and its duty to promote the health of UK science."

The Committee links this concern to the recent DTI "raid" on the Science Budget to meet other obligations. The Report "deplores the willingness" of the DTI to do this and calls for an absolute commitment to observing the ring-fencing of the Science Budget in future.

The scrutiny report also looks at the work of the OSI and highlights the reviews of the use of science in individual Government departments. It suggests that this is an excellent initiative but one which requires marked improvements. The Committee further recommends that the OSI should pay far greater attention to updating its website and should set an example in communications and the use of IT to inform the public and stakeholders of its work.

Commenting on the report, the Chairman of the Science and Technology, Phil Willis MP, said: "We congratulate the OSI on the success of its restructuring. We are generally satisfied with the OSI's performance, although we have highlighted in our Report a few areas in which we would like to see improvements.

"What does concern us is the recent raid by the DTI on the science budget to meet liabilities unrelated to science. This must not be allowed to happen again. Whilst we welcome the increases in science funding announced in the Budget, this money must be spent on science and not used to support other programmes within DTI."

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The text of the Report will be available via the Committee's website: www.parliament.uk/s&tcom from the time of publication.

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Notes to editors:

€ Under the terms of Standing Order No. 152 the Science and Technology Committee is empowered to examine the "expenditure, policy and administration of the Office of Science and Innovation and its associated public bodies". The Committee was appointed on 19 July 2005.

Membership of the Committee

Mr Phil Willis (Lib Dem, Harrogate and Knaresborough)(Chairman)
Adam Afriyie (Con, Windsor)
Mr Robert Flello (Lab, Stoke-on-Trent South)
Linda Gilroy (Lab/Co-op, Plymouth Sutton)
Dr Evan Harris (Lib Dem, Oxford West & Abingdon)
Dr Brian Iddon (Lab, Bolton South East)
Chris Mole (Lab, Ipswich)
Mr Brooks Newmark (Con, Braintree)
Graham Stringer (Lab, Manchester, Blackley)
Bob Spink (Con, Castle Point)
Dr Desmond Turner (Lab, Brighton Kemptown)