HC Deb 07 November 1991 vol 198 cc201-3W
Mr. Wigley

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what proportion of his science budget is spent in Wales, Scotland and England, respectively.

Mr. Alan Howarth

In 1989–90, the latest year for which figures are available, the proportions were 2.9, 7.9 and 77.9 per cent. respectively.

Mr. Bowis

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what guidance he has given the advisory board for the research councils in seeking its advice on the allocation of the science budget in 1992–93 to 1994–95; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

I have written to Sir David Phillips inviting the board's advice. The following is the text of my letter:

Sir David Phillips KBE FRS

Chairman of the Advisory Board for the Research Councils


I was grateful for the Board's advice for this year's Public Expenditure Survey on the resource needs of the Research Councils, the Royal Society and the Fellowship of Engineering.

I am pleased to tell you that the Government has decided that it is right to make a significant increase in the provision for Science, and that it is desirable to provide a planning framework for future years which provides a rising profile. In reaching these conclusions the Government has been heavily influenced by the array of evidence presented by the ABRC in the preparation for this year's survey.

DES provision for science comprises receipts from European Community programmes which go direct to the Research Councils, and the balance which is the sum I distribute on the advice of the ABRC, known as the "science budget". The latter (net of the dual support transfer) has been increased by £29 million to £1,002.0 million in 1992–93, by £50 million to £1,056.1 million in 1993–94, and by £85 million to £1,116.3 million in 1994–95. I have summarised in the annexed table the additions and adjustments made to the total provision for science at the start of the Survey from which I arrive at these science budget figures.

Next year's science budget is 2.5 per cent. higher in real terms than this year's. The figures for 1993–94 and 1994–95 are, respectively, 4 per cent. and 7 per cent. higher in real terms than in 1991–92. I am particularly pleased that the settlement produces this rising expenditure profile which gives the Board and the bodies funded from the science budget a sound basis for the forward planning and management of their basic and strategic research programmes.

I would like to give some fuller explanations of the adjustments shown in the annexed table.


You will see that the science budget for the next three years includes further adjustments of £0.185 million in 1992–93, £0.165 million in 1993–94, and £0.180 million in 1994–95 to support 80 per cent. of the supercomputing service.

Dual Support

At this time last year I announced my decision that there should be a change in the dual support boundary from 1 August 1992. Our public expenditure plans were adjusted to take account of the best estimate we could then make of the associated costs. I made clear in my letter of 8 November 1990 that these figures would be revised if that was proved necessary by the further work I was commissioning.

In my further letter to you of 29 July, I accepted that further adjustments had indeed been shown to be necessary by the joint study undertaken by the Research Councils and the CVCP. I also announced the transitional arrangements which would apply to grants already in payment on 1 August 1992. I said that we would take account of the further adjustment and of the transitional arrangements in our public expenditure plans for 1992–93 and later years.

The following sums have now been added to the science budget to provide for the full costs to the Research Councils and the Royal Society of the responsibilities to be transferred:

£ million
1992–93 48
1993–94 125
1994–95 154

These figures represent the total additions to the Science Budget on this account, ie they replace the adjustments announced at this time last year. They take account of the transitional arrangements announced in my July letter.

I have also made clear that the shift in the boundary of responsibilities should not lead to any change in the volume of research which Research Councils sponsor in higher education institutions. I will be looking for clear evidence that the sums transferred are being used by the Councils for the purpose for which they are intended. I should be grateful for the Board's assistance in achieving this objective.

I should now be grateful for the Board's advice on the appropriate distribution of these sums between the funded bodies.

Computing costs

The further work undertaken earlier in the year did not resolve the question of how central computing costs should be treated. The CVCP have since conducted some further analysis, in consultation with the Research Councils, indentifying options for handling these costs. The CVCP argued that these costs should remain with the institutions because the move towards distributed computing systems means that they would be most appropriately treated with other forms of communications systems as part of general

Des Science Provision 1991–92 to 1994–95
£ million
1991–92 1992–93 1993–94 1994–95
Previous plans
Science provision 927.1 1,030.2 1,122.8
plus increase announced in June 1991 +7.0
less revised EC receipts estimates -2.6 -3.0
transfer to IPSR1 -0.6 -0.6
Survey baseline 934.1 1,027.1 1,109.1 1,136.9
New plans
Survey increase +29.0 +50.0 +85.0
Supercomputing adjustment +0.2 +0.2 +0.2
Dual support transfers:
from higher education -2.6 +23.5 +49.6
from Dept. of Education, Northern Ireland +0.6 +1.5 +1.9
New science provision 1,054.3 1,184.3 1,273.5
Science budget
New science provision 1,054.3 1,184.3 1,273.5
Less EC receipts -4.2 -3.2 -3.3
Science budget (ie sums distributed on advice of ABRC) 1,050.0 1,181.1 1,270.3
of which: dual support transfer from higher education funding -48.0 -125.0 -154.0
Science budget net of dual support 1,002.0 1,056.1 1,116.3


Totals are based on unrounded figures and may not always equal the sum of the components.

1 The funding of the Institute of Plant Science Research (IPSR) is now provided from the receipts from the sale for the Plant Breeding Institute.