No. 22 of Session 2004-05 31 January 2005



The Commons  Science and Technology Committee will today, Monday 31st January, publish its annual review of the policies and expenditure of the Office of Science and Technology (OST).

The Committee notes that OST has taken several positive steps to address many of the issues that it raised in 2003. In particular, it welcomes the Government’s Science and Innovation Investment Strategy 2004-2014 and the Spending Review that accompanied it. But the Committee expresses concern that the ambitious targets signed up to by the Government as part of the Investment Framework might not be genuinely attainable. The Committee urges the Government to lead by example by increasing the volume of R&D that it carries out within its own departments.

The benefits of the Government’s increased investment are unlikely to be seen in the short term, the Committee says. The Government must be aware of the importance of continuing to increase its commitment to science, even when the results do not become apparent immediately.

The Report commends the Government for its commitment to ensuring the sustainability of the Research Base. Nonetheless, the Committee cautions that the implementation of new policies in this area will consume the majority of the extra funding allocated to the Research Councils in Spending Review 2004. It urges the Government to ensure that the total volume of research supported by the Research Councils does not decrease in the drive towards sustainability.

Chairman of the Committee, Dr Ian Gibson, said, “2004 didn’t bring the dazzling array of new science policies that we were all expecting. Nonetheless, the Government’s increased investment in science is extremely welcome, if overdue. I only hope that this new recognition of the importance of science to the economy doesn’t wane as the election draws closer.”

Copies of the Report will be available for collection in reception at 7 Millbank from the time of publication, (11.00am). Copies can also be obtained from TSO outlets and from the Parliamentary Bookshop, 12 Bridge Street, Parliament Square, London SW1A 2JX (020 7219 3890) by quoting the appropriate HC number (HC 8). The text of the Report will also be available via the Committee’s internet homepage:

For further information, please ring Ana Ferreira on 020 7219 2793

Previous press notices and publications are available on our website:

Notes to 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 held six evidence sessions: on 9 February, 12 May, 14 July and 1 December, when evidence was heard in “Science Question Time” from Lord Sainsbury of Turville, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Science and Innovation; 14 July, when evidence was heard from Rt Hon Patricia Hewitt MP, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry; and 1 November, when evidence was heard from Rt Hon Paul Boateng MP, Chief Secretary, HM Treasury, Dr Kim Howells MP, Minister of State, Department for Education and Skills, and Lord Sainsbury of Turville.

Membership of the Committee

Dr Ian Gibson (Lab, Norwich North)(Chairman)
Mr Tony McWalter (Lab, Hemel Hempstead)
Paul Farrelly (Lab, Newcastle-under-Lyme)
Dr Andrew Murrison (Con, Westbury)
Dr Evan Harris (Lib Dem, Oxford West & Abingdon)
Geraldine Smith (Lab, Morecambe and Lunesdale)
Kate Hoey (Lab, Vauxhall)
Bob Spink (Con, Castle Point)
Dr Brian Iddon (Lab, Bolton South East)
Dr Desmond Turner (Lab, Brighton Kemptown)
Mr Robert Key (Con, Salisbury)