Engineer MPs call for cabinet adviser

Engineering in the UK is getting a raw deal from the Government because of the lack of a cabinet adviser, an MP has warned. Michael Fabricant, Conservative MP for Lichfield and a chartered engineer, has called on the Government to appoint an engineering adviser to redress the imbalance. The chief scientific adviser, Sir Robert May, […]

Engineering in the UK is getting a raw deal from the Government because of the lack of a cabinet adviser, an MP has warned.

Michael Fabricant, Conservative MP for Lichfield and a chartered engineer, has called on the Government to appoint an engineering adviser to redress the imbalance.

The chief scientific adviser, Sir Robert May, is responsible for engineering issues. But according to Fabricant this treats engineering as a mere science subcategory, rather than a distinct activity with demands of its own.

`Science is a net consumer of national wealth, while engineering is a creator of it,’ said Fabricant. `Engineering is the key enabler in finding practical applications for scientific discoveries. That must be recognised, as it is in other countries.’

Speaking in a House of Commons debate on the subject, Labour MP for Crosby Claire Curtis-Thomas, who is a member of the Engineering Council’s senate, said: `The Government’s persistence in not employing an engineering adviser sends a message to the two million or so UK engineers that their status and contribution to the quality of our lives are not understood at the highest level of the Government.’

Curtis-Thomas and Fabricant are two of only seven engineers in the House of Commons, all of whom are supporting the campaign to appoint an adviser, as is the Engineering Council.

Small business and e-commerce minister Patricia Hewitt denied there was a need for a separate adviser in addition to Sir Robert May, who trained as a chemical engineer.

Fabricant accused the Government of having a `closed mind’ on the subject.