10 May 1996

Scientists aid cuts under fire

SCOTTISH Labour MPs have attacked the governments record on financial support for veterinary scientists and technicians, claiming the crisis over BSE has led to redundancies in other scientific fields.

Eric Clarke (Lab, Midlothian) said the governments prior options review operation of 35 institutions and the threat of a withdrawal of grant aid was leading to a lack of confidence in the sector.

Mr Clarke was particularly unhappy about the cuts in research service facilities at the University of Edinburgh.

He was backed by Labours science spokesman Jeremy Bray (Lab, Motherwell South), who claimed the prior options study was cutting a swathe through government research establishments.

"The progress of scientific research, which underlies the ability to tackle diseases such as BSE and CJD, depends critically on the underlying basic research, which has been savaged by the government," said Dr Bray.

Raymond Robertson, Scottish under-secretary of state, replied that government spending on BSE/CJD research would be increased to £10m next year. &#42