Government policy has caused the progressive disappearance of Government laboratories as centres of research excellence, said Liberal Democrat economic affairs spokesman Lord Ezra this week.
`Our centres of excellence are gradually disappearing as more and more scientists are transferred on to contract research work,’ he said.
Lord Ezra was speaking at a public debate hosted by Save British Science at London’s Imperial College. He shared the platform with science and technology minister Ian Taylor and Labour shadow minister Adam Ingram.
The former National Coal Board chairman said: `The coal industry used to have a centre for mining research and a centre for coal research, both world standard. The Central Electricity Generating Board and British Gas both had major centres for long-term research, all of which have disappeared.’
Taylor defended the Government. The Prior Options review of the research establishment’s status had not favoured any particular solution, he said. Most of the establishments had remained in public ownership, `perhaps with redefined management targets’.
Some `led the world, others needed a kick up the pants,’ he said.