'Casino culture' decides medical research

TOM WILKIE

Science Editor

British scientists are living under a "climate of fear", reluctant to criticise the Government because they might lose their research grants, it was claimed yesterday.

Dr John Mulvey, a former sub-nuclear physicist at Oxford University, launched his attack on the eve of the annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in Newcastle.

Dr Mulvey warned that core research in science and engineering faces a pounds 151m cut over the next two years, despite a promise by the Government to spend an additional pounds 40m.

The Medical Research Council, which channels public money to scientists, has been able to fund fewer than one in three of those research projects it considers to be of top-ranking quality.

The Biological Science Research Council, which funds research basic to the biotechnology industry, can fund only one in five of the top projects submitted to it. But working scientists are reluctant to publicise the problem, Dr Mulvey - who is one of the founders of the Save British Science Society - said, "because they fear that if they complain they will not get money. We know of cases where heads of university departments have expressed reluctance to come out in public."

Dr Mulvey said that "a casino culture now decides the advance of science and medicine".

Scientists were already concerned about government policy towards research following Mr Major's decision to make science the responsibility of a junior minister in the Department of Trade and Industry rather than a Cabinet level minister as had been the case.

Significantly, the only government presence at the annual meeting is that of the junior DTI minister Ian Taylor, who is making the briefest of appearances. Ironically, the theme of the British Association's week- long meeting is "discovery and invention", intended to underscore the importance of science and engineering research to the national wealth creating industries.

The Festival of Science, which lasts until 15 September, is expected to attract more than 10,000 people to a series of lectures, talks and "hands-on" demonstrations of interactive science. About 2,000 children and parents attended the "family day" events yesterday, when the Astronomer Royal, Sir Martin Rees, helped local children to get to grips with stargazing at the planetarium.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UX Consultant

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...

Recruitment Genius: Part-time Editor

£8000 - £12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Executive

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An exceptional opportunity has arisen for a pa...

Recruitment Genius: Kitchen and Bathroom Installers

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of designer kitch...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border