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Research Councils

Volume 404: debated on Thursday 8 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has to undertake a review of the work of the Medical Research Council following the report of the Science and Technology Committee published on 24 March, HC132. [111246]

The MRC is highly renowned around the world for its track record in promoting excellent medical research. We currently have no plans to carry out a review of the MRC following the Select Committee report. We are however reviewing the Select Committee's report and we will make a detailed response during May.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will review the arrangement whereby the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council has its income from UK grants and funds reduced when it gains additional EU funding. [111375]

[holding answer 7 May 2003]: UK public spending financed from the EU's Budget is subject to normal public sector budgeting rules. This reflects the fact that UK taxpayers have an interest in spending on programmes funded from the EU's Budget being spent in a way which is consistent with national priorities.Departments and their sponsored bodies, including PPARC, have therefore in general needed budgetary cover for spending funded from the EU's Budget, including spending on research and development. To improve incentives, however, a recent review has resulted in changes to the public sector budgeting rules, so that from 2003–04 departments and their sponsored bodies including PPARC which receive income from the EU's Budget for commercially- or competitively-let research contracts will be able to offset half of their income from qualifying programmes against spending within their departmental expenditure limit.