Select Committee on Science and Technology

No. 23a of Session 2006-07 13 March 2007



The Science and Technology Committee has examined Sir David Cooksey’s Review of UK Health Research Funding.  In a Report out today, it broadly endorses the Review’s conclusions but with reservations about aspects of the proposals.

Mr Phil Willis MP, Chairman of the Committee, said “The Committee wishes to see all funding allocated to health research used for that purpose. This has not always been the case in the past in the case of NHS funding. 

“The Cooksey Review proposals offer a sound basis for the implementation of the Single Fund for health research.  Although we have some reservations about the proposals, in particular as they affect basic research, research outside the priority areas and the processes followed by the MRC, the Committee gives a general welcome to the Review.

“We will take a close interest in monitoring the implementation and effectiveness of the Cooksey Review recommendations.”

For media inquiries please call Laura Kibby on 020 7219 0718. For any other information please call Ana Ferreira, on 020 7219 279.

Previous press notices and publications are available on our website.

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.

• This inquiry was announced on 6 December 2006 in Press Notice No 5 of session 2006-07.

• An evidence session was held on Wednesday 24 January 2007 when evidence was heard from Sir David Cooksey.

• In the Report the Committee expresses its disappointment that the emphasis placed on the pharmaceutical sector in the Cooksey Review was not advertised in the terms of reference for the Review. The Report is also sceptical about the ability of current structures to respond to the demands made on them by fast-tracking crucial research to bring new drugs into use more quickly within the NHS.

• The Committee also regrets the failure of the Cooksey Review to make recommendations regarding the new Single Fund budget, and calls for the current combined budget for the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the NHS Research and Development function to be at least maintained, with no decrease to funding for basic research.

• On structural changes, the Committee is concerned that the new Office for Strategic Co-ordination of Health Research (OSCHR) should not complicate the existing functions of the MRC. While health research priorities must be set, OSCHR must also ensure that research outside these priorities is adequately supported, including research which benefits developing world health needs.

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)