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Lord Haskel: My Lords, the Office of Science and Technology is certainly not buried in a mausoleum. It is working relationships that matter, not physical location. The Office of Science and Technology remains the focal point across government--that is, for transdepartmental business--supporting the Chief Scientific Adviser and the President of the Board of Trade in her role as the Cabinet Minister responsible for science and technology. The Office of Science and Technology discharges its responsibility by taking a central, independent position among all departments, including the DTI.

Lord Jenkin of Roding: My Lords, while accepting that that may well be the objective, is the noble Lord aware of the criticism that because the OST is located within the Department of Trade and Industry, it comes under some pressure to fill its vacancies from among members of that department rather than being free to draw on the best talent across Whitehall?

Lord Haskel: My Lords, we are aware of that observation, but I can assure the noble Lord that what he has said is not true. The best people for the job are selected, irrespective of department.

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, can the noble Lord confirm that in this country public expenditure on science as a percentage of GDP has fallen from 2.7 per cent. to 1.8 per cent.? Can he assure the House that the Government have noted that the American and Japanese governments, far from cutting

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the science budget, are proposing substantially to increase it to protect the scientific industries of the future?

Lord Haskel: My Lords, I can confirm that my noble friend's figures are broadly correct. Of course, the Government would like to spend more money on science and science research. The Government are looking urgently at this as part of the comprehensive spending review. We are committed to putting science ahead of other considerations. We are actively working to encourage greater private sector spending on research and development. A consultation document, Innovating for the Future, was published at the time of the Budget, when we announced the £50 million "university challenge" scheme to encourage exploitation of university research. Perhaps I may congratulate my noble friend because I know that his family trust has been active in encouraging the industrial exploitation of scientific research within the universities.

Lord Porter of Luddenham: My Lords, is the Minister aware that Sir Ron Dearing--now, happily, Lord Dearing--in his evidence to your Lordships' Select Committee on Science and Technology said:

    "one of our purposes is to lift this"--
that is, science and technology--

    "above the interplay of departmental interests and arguments",
while Sir Ron Oxburgh said quite plainly:

    "it has to be Cabinet office"?
Can the noble Lord say whether there is now any support, outside the DTI, for the present arrangements?

Lord Haskel: Yes, my Lords. However, I cannot comment fully on the Dearing Report because we have only just received it and are considering its recommendations. There will be an official response. Certainly, the committee put in some hard work.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: My Lords, is the noble Lord aware of the unease not just in the world of science and technology but in industry and energy that one Minister is now entrusted with the totality of these responsibilities and of the belief that it is too large a portfolio for one Minister? The noble Lord has indicated that one of the Minister's functions should be to emphasise the importance of science and technology across the whole of Whitehall. Does he really believe that the luckless Mr. John Battle has time to perform that task in addition to the role that he must perform in relation to energy and industry?

Lord Haskel: My Lords, I believe that my right honourable friend Mr. John Battle is doing a very good job in promoting the interests of science and technology. The Chief Scientific Adviser carries a good deal of responsibility, and the Office of Science and Technology is independent within the Department of Trade and Industry. Therefore, the work of my right honourable friend Mr. Battle is separate from the work of the Office of Science and Technology.

Lord Bruce of Donington: My Lords, will my noble friend reiterate that the Government's policy is to entrust

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this important function to a Minister, not a ministry, in order that in due course these matters may be discussed at Cabinet rather than departmental level?

Lord Haskel: My Lords, my right honourable friend the President of the Board of Trade, Mrs. Margaret Beckett, is the Minister responsible for science and technology.

Lord Annan: My Lords, is the Minister aware that some noble Lords recall the days when Lord Zuckerman was Chief Scientific Adviser? Is the reason why scientific advice has been marginalised in this way that very often Lord Zuckerman gave advice which was not very acceptable to many government departments, particularly advice about the independent deterrent?

Lord Haskel: My Lords, I am aware of that criticism, but I can assure noble Lords that the opinion of the Chief Scientific Adviser is not marginalised.

Lord Peyton of Yeovil: My Lords, is the Minister aware that only the very deaf have so far failed to hear the message from scientists that most of them never get anywhere near a senior Minister? They are lucky if they have contact with a parliamentary secretary.

Lord Haskel: My Lords, I am not aware of that problem.

Zambia: Democracy

2.52 p.m.

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they are taking to encourage democracy in Zambia.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): My Lords, FCO officials have regular contacts with the Zambian Government at all levels and with parliamentarians, the judiciary, the independent commissions, non-governmental organisations and the media. We encourage democratic principles through these contacts and through targeted use of our programme budgets and sponsored visits. During our EU presidency we have made representations to the Zambian Government about good governance and human rights, and will continue to do so. We made representations about the imposition of the state of emergency, and on 18th March the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Mr. Lloyd, welcomed the lifting of that state of emergency on behalf of the EU.

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for her response. Does she agree that the plight of Zambia is that of a country spending four times as much on debt as on health? What are the Government doing to encourage greater democratic activity in Zambia, specifically in the context of the local

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government elections due to be held this year? Will the Government be encouraging UNIP to stand in those elections? What will the Government do to ensure the elections are free and fair and that there is free assembly while they take place?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, we acknowledge some advances in recent years, in particular the move to multi-party democracy and administrative reforms such as that reducing opportunities for corruption. We encourage the Zambian Government to continue their efforts to further the democratic process and enter into meaningful and inclusive dialogue with other political parties in Zambia by creating an atmosphere that allows such talks to take place. We act in a variety of ways, for example, through the programme budgets, sponsored visits and other means.

Lord Acton: My Lords, is my noble friend aware of the current legal situation in relation to former President Kaunda?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, the former president is no longer in prison but is under house arrest. As I understand it, he has been formally charged with concealment of treachery. I believe that it would be wrong for us to discuss the charge against him as the matter is sub judice at the moment.

Lord Hughes of Woodside: My Lords, will my noble friend make representations to the Zambian Government that former President Kaunda and the others who have been charged should be brought to trial speedily and that the trial should be open and transparent so that any evidence that may be led against those charged can be properly tested in open court?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, Her Majesty's Government have no special brief for Dr. Kaunda. Our concern is for all the detainees. Of course, former President Kaunda is an elderly man of 73 and probably requires special consideration. We welcomed the intervention of former President Nyerere with President Chiluba which led to the decision to transfer Dr. Kaunda from prison to house arrest. Of the 104 detainees who were held without charge for three months, we understand that 82 have now been charged and the remainder released.

Lord Glenamara: My Lords, my noble friend has not been in this House very long. Will she please learn that at the age of 73 one is not "an elderly man"?

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