§ Dr. Gibson
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if the review of the Office of Science and Technology carried out in her Department includes an examination of the research councils. 
§ Ms Hewitt
There is no separate review being carried out of the Office of Science and Technology (OST).
The quinquennial review of the six grant-awarding Research Councils (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)) was announced on 13 February 2001 by my noble Friend Lord Sainsbury, Under-Secretary of State for Science and Innovation. Regular reviews are a key component of the Government's commitment to improving the quality and effectiveness of public services. Government agencies and non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) are required to be subject to quinquennial reviews which consider the alternative options for the provision of the service, the way that the service fits into wider governmental objectives, and the extent of any synergies with other service providers.
The review of the seventh council, the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC), a non-grant awarding body, was announced on 13 June 2000. The report of stage one was published in the autumn and stage two is underway.
The cross-departmental science and research review, announced by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 26 June 2001, Official Report, column 39W, will examine the funding of the UK science base and the effectiveness of all Departments' science and research programmes to ensure that they deliver maximum long-term benefits to the economy and quality of life. This covers Government-financed research across all Government Departments, including OST.
In addition, on 27 June 2001, Official Report, column 94W, I announced a wide-ranging review of DTI priorities and structure. This will consider the broad priorities of the whole Department, including OST, and how it directs its resources to make the Department more unified, modern and effective in framing policy and delivering services to customers.