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Science & Innovation: Time for a radical solution

Speaking at the Real Time Club 40th Anniversary dinner on 26 June 2007, Ian Taylor MP, Chair of the Conservative Party’s Science and Technology Policy Task Force will call for the setting up of a Department for Science and Innovation with a seat in the Cabinet.

“The big needs and challenges that face the UK over the next 20 years will all involve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Climate change, tackling terrorism, GM crops, pandemics, transport, health-care, productivity – again and again it will be knowledge and skills in the key STEM subjects that will determine the success or failure of policy. “I believe it is time for Britain to have a Department for Science and Innovation, with responsibility for science, engineering and technology. Headed by a Secretary of State – giving science and engineering a big voice at the Cabinet table – this would recognise the critical importance of STEM to the UK economy and the fact that it underpins so much of public policy. It would not be a department that would be managing large-scale public services but a central resource and policy centre ensuring co-ordination across government and advocacy for STEM at the highest levels. Science and engineering should not be submerged into the DTI or seen as an arm of education. “A Department for Science & Innovation would not only be in a position to champion the importance of science in education and the economy - acting as the ‘grit in the oyster’ - but it would absorb the current DTI responsibilities for the Research Councils and work with our proposed Innovative Projects Agency. It would enable Ministers across Whitehall to call upon a colleague with the expertise and the connections in the STEM community to help them deal with the myriad of policy issues affected by STEM. It would be a department with the resources to provide the evidence on which policy should be based. It would be responsible for delivering smarter public procurement by co-ordinating its application across government. Its trans-departmental technology role would be to ensure government itself adapted to the needs and opportunities of the digital economy. “This change would constitute a radical shift in approach by Whitehall. Since 1970 we have mostly had large departments focused on the delivery of public services. A Department of Science & Innovation would be a departure from existing practice but one that has the potential not merely to transform the status of STEM in Whitehall and Westminster but to bring lasting improvements to national competitiveness “The Conservative’s STEM Task Force has seriously considered the challenges and is ready to offer the radical solutions. But will Gordon Brown?”1) For further comments please call Ian Taylor MP on 020 7219 4490. The views expressed are those of the STEM Policy Task-Force which puts forward recommendations to the Conservative Front Bench. 2) For information on the STEM Task Force please visit 3) The Real Time Club 40th Anniversary Dinner takes place on Tuesday 26 June at The National Liberal Club. The Club has been described as a "Dining/Debating Society with attitude" A high proportion of members are entrepreneurs who have or are developing highly successful, frequently international hi-tech businesses. Whilst having a strong interest in technology, the Club prides itself on being business focused. Indeed some of our earlier members created the very first companies in the world that provided "Real Time" computing. for further details