The money the Government stands to gain from the auction of the 4G mobile spectrum represents that extremely rare and happy event in public finances: a genuine windfall. It should be treated as such. It should not be ploughed back to vanish in the Treasury's vaults; it should not be seized by the Chancellor to plug gaps elsewhere. It should be set aside to support programmes in a conceptually related area that might not otherwise attract funding.
Leading scientists, including Professor Brian Cox and the Astronomer Royal, Lord Rees, have launched the 4Growth campaign. They want the money to fund scientific research into new technologies, with a portion of the estimated £4bn proceeds spent on a 10-year expansion of investment in scientific education, and another sum earmarked to help bridge the persistent gulf between research and commercial application. They are thinking along exactly the right lines. The Government should listen.