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Live updates: Chancellor Osborne’s budget on science

March 21, 2012

UPDATE: Live coverage has now concluded. Below are Osborne’s direct quotes pertaining to science and technology funding from the speech transcript.

Science as a strength

“And in return, you, British businesses, have the self-confidence to: invest, expand, hire, innovate and be the best. We earn our way in the world if we stop being afraid to identify Britain’s strengths and reinforce them, backing industries, like aerospace, energy and pharmaceuticals, creative media and science. A deliberate strategy to create a more balanced national economy, where financial services are strong, but they are not the only string to our bow.”

Life Sciences

“We shouldn’t be shy about identifying our successful industries and reinforcing them. Around one fifth of the world’s top 100 medicines originate from UK research. So we’re backing our life sciences sector through creating the Francis Crick Institute at St Pancras and cutting taxes on patents to make this one of the most attractive places in the world to invent new medicines. We’ve protected the science budget. Now we’re committing £100m of support, alongside the private sector, for investment in major new university research facilities. And with the world’s second largest aerospace industry, we will also establish a UK centre for aerodynamics, to open next year that will encourage innovation in aircraft design and commercialise new ideas.”

Energy

“I also want to see investment in our world-leading energy sector, including renewables. We’ve launched the Green Investment Bank; open for business next month. We’ve introduced a Carbon Price Floor into our tax system to encourage investment and set the rate today. Combined Heat and Power plants will not be liable to carbon price support rates on fuels used for heat. Renewable energy will play a crucial part in Britain’s energy mix – but I will always be alert to the costs we are asking families and businesses to bear. Environmentally sustainable has to be fiscally sustainable too.”

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We’re following the budget announcement live on Parliament TV. Watch this space for live updates.

13:48 Miliband finishes, and as predicted, no mention of research or technology funding. We’ll finish our live coverage now and return to you with analysis later on!

13:38 Based on how it’s going so far, something tells me that research funding won’t be the bone Miliband chooses to pick. Probably not enough political mileage in it.

13:33 Ed Miliband begins speaking. Initial vitriol goes to ending of the 50p tax rate.

13:24 Budget is coming to a close says the Deputy Speaker. Will the leader of the opposition use his speech to demand more commitments to science? Will the “frozen” science budget be challenged as a real-terms decrease? We’ll watch that speech immediately following Osborne’s.

12:57 “We shouldn’t be shy about identifying strengths” including backing our life science sector, Osborne says. He cites the Francis Crick Institute, and cutting taxes on patents for pharma companies, plus £100m investment in major new facilities at universities and a UK centre for aerodynamics innovation to open next year. Surprisingly no plug for the Catapult Centres.

Then he’s off promptly onto creative industries.

12:54 Osborne would like to see “investment in our world-leading energy industry, including renewables”. The word research is, however, conspicuously absent.

12:42 So far, not much mention of science but early in the speech Osborne inserted one symbolic statement, saying that “aerospace, pharmaceuticals, creative industries, energy and science”  are Britain’s industry strengths and that it has to have faith to recognise and throw weight behind those.

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