Select Committee on Science and Technology First Report


54. The Committee's Report recommended the introduction of a National Cancer Research Bill to -

  • "establish the National Cancer Research Institute and to place its funding on a statutory basis;
  • set out the goals, objectives and functions of the National Cancer Research Institute, and
  • place the registration of cancer and pre-cancerous diagnoses on a statutory footing."[115]

The Government's Reply did not directly address this recommendation. We asked the Minister for Public Health her view of the proposal of a National Cancer Act. She told us "I do not think we need legislation in order to deliver the improvements that we need when it comes to research".[116] She considered that "to separate out cancer funding from other areas of the NHS by statute would actually be a retrograde step".[117] We are not convinced by the Minister's statement that NHS provision of cancer care and research obviates the case for a National Cancer Act. We recognise that many advances in cancer care and services have been achieved in the UK without legislation. We also accept that the co-operation between Government, industry and the charitable sector has improved greatly since the foundation of the Cancer Research Funders' Forum, and now the National Cancer Research Institute, without need for statutory requirement. However, in certain areas there appears to be a strong argument for legislation, for example in placing cancer registration on a statutory footing, the assurance of adequate funding for the new cancer research structures and the development of a cancer research strategy. We recommend that the Government reconsider the potential value of a National Cancer Act in the light of our concerns regarding cancer registration, adequate funding for the cancer research infrastructure and the need for a cancer research strategy.

115   HC 332, para 157 Back

116   Q 193 Back

117   Q 192 Back

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Prepared 20 March 2002