The minister for science, universities and cities has declined to commit a future Conservative government to an increased research budget or a continued ring fence.
In his first full interview with Research Fortnight, Greg Clark argued that science would, nonetheless, be central to the party’s election manifesto for 2015. “The commitment to science and research that we’ve shown will continue and deepen,” he says. In 2010, the coalition government froze and ring-fenced the research budget at £4.6 billion a year, meaning that it would not change in cash terms over the course of the parliament that ends in May 2015.
Clark also addressed criticisms that the breadth of his brief makes him a part-time science minister. “It’s an old-fashioned way of thinking about the world,” he says. Asked how he splits his time between the Cabinet Office and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, he says: “It doesn’t work like that. It would be bizarre to separate them out. One of the things I’ve always most strongly believed in is against silos.”