The Daily Telegraph have picked up today on the funding and staff cuts at IAH and quote Peter Ainsworth, the shadow environment secretary...
"I am worried about reports we have seen in recent months about funding cuts to the institute and remarks made by the director of the IAH saying he is being asked to run a Rolls-Royce service on the budget of a Ford Cortina. That might have something to do with it."It is therefore interesting to note submission the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technologyon 23rd November 1999 explained their role and the problems with MAFF funding.
"The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) sponsors eight Research Institutes which represent a major element of the Science Base underpinning the agriculture, food and environmental industries. The funding for these institutes is drawn from a range of sources; overall the BBSRC's strategic grant accounts for 36 per cent of total funding, and MAFF and other government departments account for 28 per cent. Over the past 15 years, the decline in MAFF and other departmental funding has put major pressure on the BBSRC's Science Vote to meet redundancy and other costs. "
They go on to quantify the effects on funding ...
2.3 The decline in MAFF research expenditure has placed serious pressures on the BBSRC's science budget income over the past decade and a half. Following the 1972 White Paper "A Framework for Government Research and Development" (Cmnd 5046), £19 million was transferred from the then Agricultural Research Council to MAFF as the "customer department". This sum would be worth around £90 million in 1999 prices, while MAFF research spending within the BBSRC institutes currently runs at just over £30 million. The gap between these figures represents a loss of funding broadly equivalent to the total Science budget expenditure on institute-based research in 1999-2000. The decline has caused the Council to reduce employment in the institutes from 5,750 in 1982 to 3,400 in 1999.
2.4 Over that period, there have been some 1,800 compulsory redundancies and 700 voluntary redundancies, funding for which has predominantly had to be found from within the AFRC/BBSRC Science Vote.
This represents a very significant loss to science
It also means that money to be spent paying people for undertaking scientific research was actually spent on providing generous terms of redundancy - presumably to the older more experienced staff.
If therefore you turn to the same committtee meeting November 2006 you find that there is eveidently a reluctance for DEFRA (the successor to MAFF) to continue funding at the same level. Exposing a major hole in the funding of scientific institutes. For example, the Chairman placed his concerns (and the public's ) very squarely ..
Q171 Chairman: But it is very difficult to reconcile that with the need to have a science facility on tap for when you, as a government, need it when there is an outbreak of foot and mouth or bird flu arrives or whatever. How do you reconcile those two things of maintaining the institute base or, if it is not going to be the institute base, what will it be—the universities?
Lord Rooker: No, I might say the two examples you give are bird flu and foot and mouth and we make sure that our procedures are in place to account for that. We have to account—
Q172 Chairman: But you do not know what you are going to account in the future.
It is instructive to read the whole day's events to appreciate the quality of the mind of Geoff Rooker who attempts to explain a reduction in funding to the IAH is not a cut .. or a cut is not a reduction ... or
We have Dr Harris to thanks for nailing the bastard ,but it does expose how the IAH and associated Research Institutes are being underfunded, understaffed and not the places where graduates naturally seek employment, as their funds, facilities and reputation decline.
Q192 Dr Harris: That is consistent with the government evidence regarding this which is why I was asking you about it. On this question of cuts, Lord Rooker is very clear that there were no cuts, but the impression out there is that there have been cuts in Defra funding, as you are aware, possibly because the figures reduced for funding. Last year, 2004-05, for the Institute of Animal Health it was £9.6 million from Defra and it is now £8 million in 2005-06, for IGER in 2004-05 it was £8.2 million and it is now £7.1 million and from Defra for the Rothamsted Research Institute it was £6.4 million in 2004-05 and it is now £5.1 million in 2005-06, so that is a reduction year on year in the funding from Defra for those three organisations. In what way is that reduction not a cut?
Of course it was not until March this year that the scale of the RPA cock up revealed that the UK would be obliged to pay fines of up to £500Mn which would come out of DEFRA budgets.
With her fucking crazy European Trading Scheme for carbon and the RPA fiasco and the rundown of funding for agricultural research Mrs "Mad Cow" Beckett (and Gordy whose Treasury happily mopped up the savings to squirt elsewhere) have a lot to answer for.
PS : The Foot and Mouth outbreak in 2001 led to between 6.5 million and 10 million animals being destroyed and cost as much as £8.5bn.
Pic is Lord Rooker (left) being introduced to HOL in 2001 by Lord Bernard Donohugh. They make a lovely couple.