Britain's Research Circuit

The Politics of British Science. Martin Ince. Wheatsheaf Books, Brighton, Sussex, 1986. 227 pp. £18.95 HB, £8.95 PB. The British government spends about 4.5 billion pounds (about $7 billion) a year on R&D. This is a little more than 2 percent of GNP—not much different in percentage terms than most other advanced industrial countries. The difference, as Martin Ince and others point out, is that more than half of the British expenditure goes to military research; only the United St

Steven Rose
Apr 5, 1987
The Politics of British Science. Martin Ince. Wheatsheaf Books, Brighton, Sussex, 1986. 227 pp. £18.95 HB, £8.95 PB.


The British government spends about 4.5 billion pounds (about $7 billion) a year on R&D. This is a little more than 2 percent of GNP—not much different in percentage terms than most other advanced industrial countries. The difference, as Martin Ince and others point out, is that more than half of the British expenditure goes to military research; only the United States spends proportionally more, and most other countries much less.

Apart from the Ministry of Defence, the civil funding agencies are an untidy mix. There are the ministries themselves, from agriculture to transport, and the five research councils. Civil science spending is supposed to be coordinated through advisory committees, but there is virtually no integration between military and civil research.

This funding structure, which worked modestly well in times of...

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