Lord Krebs, chairman of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, has written to David Willetts on the subject of potential cuts, seen as a possibility given recent reports of a budget crisis in the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.
The crossbench peer, who is principal of Jesus College, Oxford, tells the universities and science minister he is writing to “express concern about claims that have surfaced in the media suggesting that the ring-fenced science budget may be used to shore up the department’s budget in other areas”.
Having won a good outcome for science at the last spending review “it would be…regrettable if the government were now to undermine their commitment to science and their reputation in the sector by drawing on the ring-fenced science budget to plug gaps in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills budget”.
An overspend on student support at private colleges is one factor in the budget problems at BIS.
Lord Krebs adds: “There has been much to welcome in the government’s approach to science and I would urge you not to jeopardise the strength of the UK’s science base. I sincerely hope that you can provide some reassurance to the committee that the reports that have emerged in the press are misguided, and the ring-fenced science budget remains secure for the long term.
“Furthermore, it would not be desirable for other BIS activities to be brought within the science ring-fence and thereby dilute the science budget.”