Economic growth does not fully justify public spending on science, George Osborne, a former chancellor, has said.
Mr Osborne, who protected science from spending cuts on the grounds that it represented an investment in future economic growth—while simultaneously applying austerity measures to the poorest in society—now says that governments should invest in research for wider reasons, reports Research Fortnight, our sister publication. Its 500th issue is published today—it was founded in 1994 by William Cullerne Bown—and guest edited by Andre Geim of the University of Manchester, who shared the 2010 Nobel prize in physics. Mr Osborne suggests that politicians should look beyond GDP, it reports. It quotes Mr Osborne as saying: “I always had an eye on the bottom line and I thought investment in science was good for the productivity of the economy and for the jobs it created. That for me was never really the fundamental reason why the country should invest in its scientists and revere its science. You want to be promoting a culture of inquiry and a culture of research that doesn’t always have an obvious end product that can be commercialised or can add to GDP. That is a happy byproduct of a great scientific base.” The paper contains contributions on the future of science from: Frank Wilczek, an American Nobel laureate; Carlos Moedas, European commissioner for research, science and innovation; Martin Rees, the astronomer royal; Nancy Rothwell, the vice-chancellor of the University of Manchester; and Matt Ridley, a journalist.