Letter: Suppression of science advice

Sir: I congratulate William Waldegrave on having the courage to publish the previously suppressed science advice of the Advisory Board for the Research Councils (10 September).

The board's advice was first published in 1985 by Sir Keith Joseph at the request of my predecessor, Jeremy Bray MP. In subsequent years the board itself asked that it be published.

In a science debate in the House of Commons in February 1991 Kenneth Clarke praised the 'wise decision' of his predecessor John MacGregor not to publish that year's advice. Considering the debate took place on the day that the Science and Engineering Research Council was considering major cuts in research programmes, one can see why Mr Clarke chose those words.

The ABRC exposed the weaknesses in the funding of the science base. The previous two Secretaries of State for Education and Science suppressed and ignored the evidence. Now it is the turn of William Waldegrave to demonstrate not only his belief in openness in government, but also his commitment to improving the state of the nation's science base.

Yours sincerely,


MP for Kirkcaldy (Lab)

Kirkcaldy, Fife

The writer is opposition spokesman on science and technology.