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Tuesday, 25 July, 2000, 15:14 GMT 16:14 UK
Government to detail science spending
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The UK Government will set out its focus for science research with the publication on Wednesday of a White Paper.

The document, which will detail any legislative proposals the administration has in mind, follows closely two major announcements of increased funding.

Chancellor Gordon Brown revealed in his Comprehensive Spending Review last week that the science budget would be raised by 5.4% per year in real terms.

Taken together with the 1bn joint capital investment package with the Wellcome Trust charity announced three weeks ago, science spending is set to increase by an average of 7% a year for three years.

It is expected that the Minister for Science and Innovation, Lord Sainsbury, will use the launch of the White Paper to give more information on precisely where these extra monies will be spent.

"The major thrust of the paper will be initiatives designed to keep the UK at the forefront of world science," a spokesman for the government's Office of Science and Technology told BBC News Online on Tuesday.

Salary and career structures

Dr Peter Cotgreave, director of the Save British Science Society (SBS), said there must be an explicit recognition in the White Paper that investment in the science base underpinned all other polices.

"This attitude has built up that the science base is brilliant and we don't have to worry about it. That needs to stop - we need to maintain the excellence of the science base as a specific policy or other things will not matter.

"And this means a recognition that we don't pay people enough and that salaries and career structures must be improved."

Grants for postgraduate science and engineering students are set to be increased by almost a quarter - from 6,620 at present to 9,000 a year by 2003, an increase of 23%. This became clear after the Chancellor's 5 July announcement of a 1bn boost in UK science.

The move has been welcomed by SBS, but Dr Cotgreave said it was not apparent from the Comprehensive Spending Review that substantial extra monies existed to pay academics across the board better salaries.

"I don't expect there to be more money in the White Paper but the government could change the structures so that universities could pay some individual professors more money to bring them back from the United States, for example."

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