50. The Charity Commission's figures from December
2001 revealed that there are now 814 cancer charities in the UK.
The two largest charities were the Cancer Research Campaign (CRC)
and the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF). They began life
as a single charity in 1902, as the Cancer Research Fund, and
acquired the Imperial epithet when Edward VII became its patron
in 1904. In 1923, a group of scientists broke away, disturbed
at the lack of clinical application of the research work done.
The new group eventually became the Cancer Research Campaign.
The ICRF spent £65.8m on research in 2000-01, and another
£13m on research expansion. It had 2,367 staff, including
its in-house scientists and 45 laboratories. The CRC spent £66m
on research in 2000-01. It had 936 staff and funds a further 1,700
scientists, through programme and project grants. In December
2001, the charities announced that they were to merge, to become
Cancer Research UK. The new charity became operational on 4 February
2002. Professor Andrew Miller has become Interim Chief Executive
of the new charity in order to oversee the merger, and the two
Directors-General remain in post. Professor Miller told us "my
job is to be the merging mechanic, integration engineer, to help
assist with the merger at a technical level".
51. Our predecessor Committee questioned the two
charities on the prospects of a merger in May 2000. When the Committee
asked Sir Paul Nurse, Director General of ICRF, whether the two
charities would merge, he had replied "I think if ICRF and
CRC had to raise money together then it is a little like the problem
of whether you would sell more Omo or Daz if you had a single
product called Dazmo. I suspect not".
We asked him what had changed in the last two years. He replied
"we did a lot of work testing to see how much we were at
risk and the truth is we are at some risk. It is possible that
putting the two together will cause a drop in income. However,
the general response to our research, which was extensive, and
the advice that we took from outside bodies as well was there
was a reasonable chance that, in fact, our income might increase
and certainly the received wisdom was that it was unlikely to
McVie further reassured the Committee: "any market research
that we have done has shown there are three names out there: Imperial
Cancer Research Fund, Cancer Research Campaign and the most dear
to people's hearts is Cancer Research, which is a charity which
does not exist. We hope that we will osmose and assemble all the
people out there who thought we were there all along".
52. Professor Miller told us the new charity would
focus on both clinical research and trials and moving "from
targets that become evident from basic research and take that
into the clinical".
Professor McVie explained that, out of all the reasons for the
merger, "the most important was the science. There was no
shadow of a doubt that the timing of the human genome project,
its unveiling of the potential to find every single cancer gene,
was irresistible. We found when doing an audit of each other's
technologies, each other's human resources, that we had a good
53. We note also that Cancerlink and Macmillan Cancer
Relief have merged in the last year. Professor McVie told us that
he hoped that the creation of Cancer Research UK would inspire
other smaller charities to follow suit. He explained that "the
general public are seriously confused with this rash of charities
and told us "we have stated an intention to act as an umbrella
for any other blue-chip like-minded cancer research charity, not
necessarily to merge but certainly to associate".
We welcome the merger of the Cancer Research Campaign and the
Imperial Cancer Research Fund and expect the new charity, Cancer
Research UK, to prove an even stronger champion of UK cancer research.
We hope other cancer charities see their example as a positive
one to follow, and that more mergers and consolidations of cancer
research organisations will follow.
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