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Medical Research (Charges)

Volume 130: debated on Tuesday 29 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations he has received seeking legislation to prevent universities from imposing charges for medical research funded by charities; what specific representations he has received about the charges imposed in respect of research into Freidreich's Ataxia disease; and if he will make a statement.

The Government much appreciate the substantial sums which charities provide for research in universities — in 1986–87 they contributed about £66 million to medical research. In general, charitable moneys cover only part of the cost of the specific research projects which they support, with a substantial part of the costs — for academic staff time, premises, equipment, materials and overheads — being met from general university funds.In the light of advice from the Advisory Board for the Research Councils, we are currently reviewing the balance of funding responsibilities between universities and the research councils for projects which the latter support. This may have implications for charitable funding of medical research which in most cases is treated analogously with research councils' grants. I discussed this matter on 10 March with the Association of Medical Research Charities.My right hon. Friend has not received any representations seeking legislation on these matters. We have received 47 representations from members of the Friedreich's Ataxia Group about the possibility of their having to meet a larger proportion of the costs of the research which the group supports in universities. These representations will be taken into account in our consideration of the wider issues.