Science and Technology Committee

No. 7 - Session 2002-2003

17 December 2002


The Work of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council

The Science and Technology Committee published its First Report of Session 2002-03, The Work of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (HC 161), at 1100 on Tuesday 17 December 2002. 

The Report is the result of the first scrutiny inquiry that the Committee plans to hold with each of the seven Research Councils before the next general election.

•    It welcomes the extra funding allocated to PPARC in the Science Budget allocations announced on 9 December - a £24.8 million uplift to the baseline figure - and particularly the extra £9 million allocated specifically to research on  gravity and planetary exploration.

•    It expresses concern at the appalling financial management at CERN, and recommends that corrective action being taken there be closely monitored by PPARC and Government.

•    It urges the Government to show a greater commitment to hosting a major international science facility, believing that  an "ambitious and far sighted approach is needed to secure maximum benefit for the UK".  It highlights the proposed Neutrino Factory as candidate and recommends that a long term strategy be developed to bring it to the UK.

•    It encourages PPARC to adopt  more constructive policies towards contract researchers, in line with other Research Councils.

•    It makes no criticism of the way in which PPARC is managed.  The Committee records that it has "in general been impressed at the way in which it manages its funds and goes about supporting UK science."

Dr Ian Gibson, Chairman of the Committee, said "We have taken a look at PPARC and found that, by and large, it is doing a good job.  Particle physics is a long term game: we are keen to ensure that PPARC is able to plan properly for the next decade, not just the next 3 years.  We will be holding to account all the Research Councils in turn. They should have nothing to fear from Parliamentary scrutiny: it is a constructive process."

Copies of this Reports can be obtained from the dates of publication from TSO outlets and from the Parliamentary Bookshop, 12 Bridge Street, Parliament Square, London SW1A 2JX (020 7219 3890) by quoting House of Commons paper number 860.  The text of the Report will also be available on the internet at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmselect.htm

Copies of the Report are available to the media from Reception, 7 Millbank.

Further information on the work of the Committee can be obtained from Committee staff on 020 7219 2793/4.

Previous press notices and publications are available on the Committee's internet homepage: http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/science_and_technology_com.cfm

Note for Editors

•    Under the terms of Standing Order No. 152 the Committee is empowered to examine the "expenditure, policy and administration of the Office of Science and Technology and its associated public bodies". The Committee was appointed on 12 November 2001.

•    The Committee took oral evidence from Professor Ian Halliday, Chief Executive of PPARC, Mr Jim Sadlier, Director of Strategic Planning and Professor Richard Wade, Director of Programmes on Wednesday 26 June 2002.  The transcript of the session is available at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmselect.htm