Scientists bemoaned the continuing dearth of new government money for science at the British Association's meeting in Leeds this week.
This was despite an assurance from Margaret Beckett, president of the Board of Trade, that the Government wants to strengthen the science base. Labour spending plans mean a real terms cut in science funding next year.
In her first public declaration on future science policy, she told the meeting that investment depended on the conclusions of the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR).
Andy Barnicoat, of Leeds University's geology department, said: "She said all the right things but didn't commit any money with which to do it."
Mrs Beckett said the CSR was looking at science within and across departments, adding there would be "no sacred cows".
She said that science policy was still being formulated. It would include a long-term approach to funding and be "people centred".
It would also deal with the problems associated with short-term contracts, as well as the importance of promoting the public understanding of science.
She announced an award worth Pounds 100,000 annually for university science departments, research units or centres judged to have done most for a healthy economy The President's Partnership Prize will reward imaginative partnerships with outside organisations to help improve the quality of life. A new round of Foresight would start in 1999, consultation for which starts in spring.
BA research, page 6
Leader, page 11