No. 14 of Session 2003-04, dated 28 January 2004


Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council:

Introductory Hearing

On 29 January 2004, the Science and Technology Committee will publish its report following an introductory hearing with Professor Colin Blakemore, Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council (MRC), held on 8 December 2003.

The Committee welcomed the appointment of Professor Blakemore and concluded that he was well placed to address many of the problems faced by the MRC. The Committee was concerned that a leaked memorandum from the Honours Committee, which revealed that Professor Blakemore had been overlooked for an honour because of his public support for research using animals, would discourage other researchers from contributing to a much-needed debate on the issue.

In a report on The Work of the Medical Research Council, published in March 2003, the Committee criticised it for poor financial planning, misguided grant schemes and the quality of its communication with the Committee and its research community. In its new report, the Committee expressed concern that Professor Blakemore had misrepresented one of its earlier findings in the media.

Commenting on the report, Chairman of the Committee Dr Ian Gibson said, "Professor Blakemore has the right skills to turn the Medical Research Council round, but he must be honest about its failings and take a positive attitude to change. We wish him well."

For further information, please ring the Committee staff on 020 7219 2793/4, or refer to the Committee Office Information Line on 020 7219 2033.  Previous press notices and publications are available on our website -

Notes for Editors

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

  • One of the Committee's core tasks, as set out its Annual Report 2002 (HC 260), is "to scrutinise major appointments made by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.

  • The Committee published The Work of the Medical Research Council as the Third Report of the 2003-03 Session on 25 March 2003, HC 132.