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Volume 932: debated on Tuesday 17 May 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when she last met the Chairman of the Advisory Board for the Research Councils.

I had a full discussion with Sir Frederick Stewart on 21st April.

Is the Secretary of State aware of the continuing widespread concern at the further cuts in the science budget for the year 1977–78, to the tune of some 3 per cent.? Is it not doubly unfortunate that these cuts coincide with an increase in the number of science students and an increase in the potential for high energy physics?

Let me say right away that there has been, as the hon. Gentleman will know, a considerable shift in the pattern of expenditure by the research councils, and I am satisfied that they have increased their expenditure on students, for the reasons that the hon. Gentleman has given. I might also add that I understand that the Royal Society is shortly to mount a series of schemes to support teams of scientists working on new projects, in particular including able young scientists who might otherwise not have an opportunity. However, I shall keep the closest possible eye on this matter, because I believe that it is very important to give our able young scientists opportunities in the future.