BA chief wants a ministry of science - and ministers with science

September 4, 1998

A SEPARATE department of science should be established by the government, the president of the British Association, Colin Blakemore, said this week.

The science minister, Lord Sainsbury, had earlier said that he "could argue perfectly well both ways" for the Office of Science and Technology remaining within the Department of Trade and Industry or being relocated elsewhere.

"A large chunk of its work is related to what goes on in the DTI and wealth creation," said Lord Sainsbury. "Or you can argue that it has an overall view of the whole of science throughout government and therefore it should be in the Cabinet Office."

Professor Blakemore believes that the OST is inappropriately located within the DTI. Its move there, in 1995, was "without explanation and without consultation", he said as he previewed next week's annual science festival.

"Science is relevant not only to industry but to the work of virtually every government department - health, education, the environment, agriculture, food, defence, transport and social services. It makes sense to place science in its own department, with a minister at Cabinet level."

Professor Blakemore also called for better links between the academic community and science policy-makers. "We need a fuller understanding of some of the basic characteristics of science among ministers, and a better way of sounding out what people at the lab bench think," he said.

Lord Sainsbury interview, page 48

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