John Denham MP, Labour's Shadow Business Secretary, speaking at the Campaign for Science and Engineering’s Annual Lecture, in the campaign’s 25th anniversary year, said tonight that science must be at the heart of future growth.
He called on the Tory-led government to guarantee a 10-year framework for spending and he put the challenge to the government that we cannot afford Britain to lose its leading world position in science.
John Denham MP said:
“It’s essential that the forthcoming Budget sets out a clear framework for science funding well beyond the current spending period and ideally for a 10-year period.
“UK science investment is falling sharply in real terms while most other countries - including those with sharp deficit reduction programmes of their own - are increasing science investment in real terms.
“At best we can expect British science to mark time whilst building up a backlog of under-funding in research facilities. Other countries, including those in the fast growing economies, are not standing still. This is not simply us falling behind our competitors. In science, the ability to collaborate internationally is the lynch-pin of the ability to be competitive nationally. This is made worse by the government's abandonment of any commitment to a ten year strategy for science investment.
"Reverting to short-termism is bound to raise questions around the world about the UK's long term strategic commitment to science.
“It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Britain is in real danger of losing our leading position in world science.”
Wasted opportunity for growth
John Denham attacked the government for failing to make science central to growth:
“What’s so far been revealed of the government’s ‘growth plan’ suggests it has few signs that it understands how different aspects of government policy need to be aligned to make the best of our strong science base in building a strong economy for the future.
“The government is damaging the country’s ability to deliver new business, products and services.”
“In many parts of the economy, it is the secure supply of scientists who have participated in cutting edge research which can offer the UK a competitive advantage.
"Set against the timetables of major investment decisions by global companies, today’s fundamental research provides the basis for the applied activities of the future which will give us a competitive advantage."
John Denham also laid down a challenge to British science and its role in securing future investment:
“British science needs to restate the case for government investment in science and engineering research and to be actively engaged in ensuring that the products of scientific research play a full role in rebalancing the British economy in sectors which will rely most heavily on fundamental and applied science.”