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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 1991–92 to 1993–94; 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:
I was grateful for the Board's advice for this year's Public Expenditure Survey on the resource needs of the Research Councils, Royal Society and Fellowship of Engineering.
I am now able to tell you that this year's settlement maintains the value in real terms of the underlying Science Budget.
The Science Budget for 1991–92 will be £920·8 million, and the planning figures for 1992–93 and 1993–94 are £1,023·7 million and £1,106·9 million. Total provision for Science in 1991–92 includes receipts from the European Community and non-voted public expenditure by the IPSR from privatisation receipts, and will amount to £930·1 million.
Next year's Science Budget includes £1·8 million in respect of the transfer of responsibility for national supercomputing services from the Computer Board to the ABRC, and takes account of the rescheduling of postgraduate tuition fees, which results in a reduced requirement on the Research Councils of £8 million. The planning figures for 1992–93 and 1993–94 include:
(a) £1·9 million in 1992–93 and £2 million in 1993–94 for the supercomputing transfer; and (b) £50 million in 1992–93 and £100 million in 1993–94 to reflect the proposed change in the balance of funding responsibilities between higher education institutions and the Research Councils from August 1992. It is possible that these figures will need to be further adjusted next year in the light of the further work I have commissioned from the Board and others.
In order to make a like-for-like comparison between the Science Budget for 1991–92 and that for 1990–91, it is necessary to make appropriate adjustments for the reduced capital requirement from 1991–92 arising, in particular. from the completion of:
(a) the RRS James Clark Ross, for which an earmarked allocation was made last year; and (b) the new building work at Polaris House.
After making these adjustments, the Science Budget for 1991–92 is the same in real terms as in 1990–91. Set against the need to constrain public expenditure generally, this settlement provides the basis for the continuing development of the country's science base.
I am making no earmarked allocations this year and I should be grateful to receive the Board's allocation advice.
Since the Science Budget is a matter of considerable Parliamentary and public interest, I propose to follow precedent by publishing the text of this letter in the form of a Parliamentary answer.