BELFAST—The British Association for the Advancement of Science, for the first time in living memory, has entered the political arena to defend the interests of British scientists.

The association, assembled here for its 149th annual meeting, sent a letter to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher asking for more government spending on research and urging her to chair meetings of the newly created Advisory Council on Science and Technology. It said scientists would back the government’s July White Paper, which stated that “advances in science and technology are essential to national success,” only if new policies are able to reverse those decisions “that have caused such a decline in the morale of the scientific community in recent years.”

New technology offers excellent prospects for economic recovery, asserted Sir Kenneth Durham in his presidential address, a fact that most of the nation has failed to grasp. “We must do this,” he said, “or...

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