LETTER: The Science Minister's diary

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From Mr Ian Taylor

Tom Wilkie's article "A bit of a blunder? Yes, Minister" (26 September) displays less than his usual balance and accuracy.

I may have attended the British Association for the Advancement of Science festival in Newcastle only on 13 September but also that week I visited the Remote Sensing Centre in Southampton on the 12th, participated in a meeting at the European Space Agency headquarters in the Netherlands on the 14th and took part in an all-day seminar which I had personally initiated on space policy - an event of great significance to the space science community - at Surrey University on the 15th.

I might be open to the comment that the science content of this programme could be more varied, but it is only a snapshot from my diary.

On science expenditure, Dr Wilkie perversely criticises me for understanding its scope. However, it was precisely because I am aware of the definitions of the components of Research and Development (R&D) that I made the point about which he was so dismissive.

My point was that, by excluding technology transfer, the technical (Frascati) definition of R&D underestimates countries' total investment in Science and Technology.

Hence I was not seeking to redefine the Frascati definition, merely to point out that it was a pity that the R&D figures that had been quoted previously did not include technology transfer, an important exercise on which, in the current year, pounds 154m will be spent.

My task is to enable the science base and the industrial base each to gain strength through a better interface. They depend on each other. I should welcome any constructive contributions to take forward this process and augment our existing efforts.

Yours faithfully,

Ian Taylor

Minister for Science

and Technology

Department of Trade

and Industry

London, SW1

16 September