Reviews 'damage' staff morale

January 10, 1997

THE GOVERNMENT's privatisation review of public sector research establishments is damaging the productivity and morale of scientists, according to Sir Aaron Klug, president of the Royal Society.

Giving his first presidential address, Sir Aaron said that the review, which affects 43 research establishments, "is being conducted in what appears to be unseemly haste". Coming after another review called the efficiency scrutiny, Sir Aaron warned that the Government's "repeated examination" was undermining research.

He suggested that external reviews be carried out once every five years. Similar reviews were already carried out by research councils using visiting committees including international experts.

Sir Aaron praised the Medical Research Council and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council for their backing of studies into BSE. He said that, "none of this work would have been regarded as of immediate relevance, but the diseases were there and presented a mystery. It is to the credit of the research councils that they funded work in these apparently recondite fields."

Sir Aaron said that the primary role of the Royal Society was to preserve the health of the science base "at a time when the prevailing philosophy is that public sector activities should be subjected to market forces".

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