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Science and Research

Volume 526: debated on Thursday 31 March 2011

During the allocation of science and research funding, BIS consulted the national academies, business groups and universities and agreed a flat-cash ring-fenced settlement for science and research of £4.6 billion a year for 2011-15. In the Budget, the Government invested a further £100 million in science capital, including £10 million at Daresbury.

I welcome the announcement in last week’s Budget of the extra £100 million in capital spending, including the £10 million at Daresbury. Will my right hon. Friend confirm that that £100 million comes from the permanent bank levy, which was introduced by this coalition Government against opposition from Labour Members?

I can confirm that. Of course, the bank levy has a good economic basis because it is the payment that the banks make for the protection that the state provides for banks that are too big to fail. The £100 million is new money—new capital investment—and I am delighted that my hon. Friend’s campaign for Daresbury has borne fruit in this way.

In November, the Chancellor took £1.4 billion out of capital investment for science. Last week, he gave back about £100 million—strangely, all of it to Conservative constituencies. Our country’s leading reputation in science deserves better than that. When this week’s Royal Society report, “Knowledge, networks and nations”, spelled out the rise of China, India, Korea and Brazil as science superpowers, it was unable to set out the UK’s long-term plan because there is not one. Will the Secretary of State prevail on the Chancellor to agree a long-term plan for science funding, as we had under Labour?

There is a long-term plan for science funding. The hon. Lady obviously has not followed the comments that were made by the Royal Society and many others in the science community welcoming the flat-cash settlement and the ring-fencing of the science budget.