No new research cash offered

December 5, 1997

Scientists were dismayed but not surprised as Margaret Beckett, president of the Board of Trade, failed to commit any new money for research in a speech last week to Save British Science.

Although Ms Beckett would not make any financial commitments until after the government's comprehensive spending review, she did stress the high priority being given to science across government. There is now a minister in each government department responsible for ensuring scientific advice is heeded, she said.

She added that the government saw science and technology as central to Britain's prosperity and was committed to blue-skies as well as applied research.

John Mulvey, secretary of SBS, said: "Having ministers with an eye on science in every department is a novel and important step that will go a long way to helping the long-term belief that coordination across departments is a very serious weakness of government." He added, however, that it remains to be seen what action will be taken to support the science base.

A spokesman for the Office of Science and Technology said that all but two government departments now have ministers responsible for ensuring that their department's general procedures for taking account of scientific advice are consistent with the guidelines that were laid down earlier this year by Sir Robert May, the government's chief scientific adviser.

A full list of these ministers will be announced shortly.

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