The Royal Society
71. Two of the UK's academies which are concerned
with science, the Royal Society and the British Academy, benefit
from accommodation paid for by the Government and the others,
the Royal Academy of Engineering and the recently formed Academy
of Medical Sciences, do not. The Royal Society was first given
rent-free accommodation in 1780 by George III. This was in Somerset
House, which also accommodated several other societies. Over the
next 80 years, the Royal Society expanded and eventually requested
larger premises. After a lengthy search, the Royal Society moved
in 1857, again with others, into Burlington House on Piccadilly.
The Royal Society grew larger still, especially its library, and
other societies moved into Burlington House which led to overcrowding.
In 1967 the Royal Society moved to 6-9 Carlton House Terrace where
it remains. A 99-year lease was signed on the property by the
then Department of Transport and an assurance made that the rent
would be covered by the Government for the length of the lease.
Carlton House Terrace is Crown Estate property. Today the rent
is paid by the Royal Society out of grant-in-aid provided for
that purpose. In 2001-02, the rent was £306,000. The Royal
Society received £230,000 for external decoration in its
grant-in-aid in 2001-02. It has also recently finished an extensive
redevelopment of its lobby which was funded entirely from private
72. Mr Cox of the Royal Society told us "Carlton
House Terrace is not just for the Royal Society. 1,800 meetings
a year are held at the Royal Society. We are a facility for the
whole of the scientific community".
He also said "The Royal Society is the UK Academy of Sciences,
it represents the UK not only in an intellectual way but in a
physical sense as well. It is right, proper and appropriate that
the Royal Society should have premises so that it can undertake
this representational role".
The Society charges for the use of its rooms; there are commercial
and charitable rates. Charitable charges, which would apply to
most if not all of the learned societies who use it, start at
£85 for half a day in a committee room and rise to £805
for the hire of the Wellcome Trust Lecture Hall for a day, compared
to the commercial rate of £1,425.
We acknowledge that the Royal Society's premises in Carlton
House Terrace provide facilities for other learned societies.
Given that these societies may not have prestigious offices of
their own or large budgets, we hope that the Royal Society will
provide these facilities at cost price to learned societies.
73. The Royal Society occupies a prime piece of real
estate in an expensive part of London. We accept that it is of
value to the scientific community to have a focal point in the
capital and that the facilities offered by the Royal Society are
of a high standard and used by many. As the UK's 'academy of
sciences', the Royal Society should have a prestigious site in
the centre of London and we believe that government funding is
The Royal Academy of Engineering
and other academies
74. The Royal Academy of Engineering has occupied
its current premises in 29 Great Peter Street, in Westminster,
since 1994. It pays the rent from its private income, and does
not receive any subsidy for doing so. The British Academy receives
grant-in-aid from the Department for Education and Skills to the
value of £265,000 for the rent of 10 Carlton House Terrace.
A further £90,000 is met by the other occupants of the building,
and £100,000 is raised from charges to external bodies for
use of facilities.
The Wellcome Trust made a grant of £1.8 million to the British
Academy and the Royal Society for refurbishment of their premises,
£1 million of which went to the British Academy with the
proviso that the Academy of Medical Sciences be given rent-free
accommodation for five years at 10 Carlton House Terrace. This
agreement ends in 2003 and the Academy of Medical Sciences will
then pay rent to the British Academy.
75. The Royal Society of Chemistry, the Geological
Society, the Linnean Society, the Royal Astronomical Society and
the Society of Antiquaries all occupy accommodation in Burlington
House. They benefit from an agreement made with the Government,
when they moved from Somerset House in the nineteenth century,
that they would be housed rent-free. The then Department for Transport,
Local Government and the Regions (DTLR) valued these premises
for us in 2002.
Table 10: Estimated rental values of premises
in Burlington House