Feeds

More money for defence research, say MPs

Government's top boffin disagrees

Intelligent flash storage arrays

The Commons defence committee today released a report on Blighty's defence-tech research efforts, warning that there are several areas of concern.

Committee chairman James Arbuthnot, a long-time cheerleader for the UK's defence industry, was quoted by the BBC as saying: "The government cannot just rely on industry to fund research, but must itself invest for the future."

Presumably, industry would only get involved when it's time to exploit the government research and make profits off it, for instance by exporting the resulting kit to Saudi Arabia.

The committee members broadly supported this stance, with the report concluding that "the UK is second equal with France in terms of its global standing in defence research. However, we are concerned that the gap between the UK and the US in defence research will continue to widen. This could leave the UK trailing further and further behind the US and losing its current position to other nations which are increasing their investment in defence research".

It wasn't immediately clear which nations these might be, certainly not from evidence contained in the report. According to the data supplied, the UK spends more on defence research than all other nations except the US and Russia, and it is accepted that Russia is well behind the UK technologically despite its greater funding. China is more often seen as a future threat by defence analysts, but Britain already spends 25 per cent more on defence research than the People's Republic.

Furthermore, Professor Sir Roy Anderson, the government's number-one boffin, disagreed fairly categorically with the MPs over the need to increase government research spending.

"We asked whether the UK needed to spend more to maintain its position," the committee reported. "The chief scientific advisor thought 'not at the moment'."

Despite the fact that Prof Anderson presumably knows a fair bit about science and technology research, the MPs effectively told him to shut up and do as he was told.

"We look to the chief scientific adviser and to the MoD Ministers to make a strong case for an increase in the investment in defence research in the current Spending Review."

The review they allude to is the ongoing desperate attempt to sort out the MoD's budget crisis. With leaks suggesting that procurement plans for the next decade may total at least £12bn more than the likely funds, something's going to have to give: perhaps new kit, perhaps front-line combat units, perhaps pay or pensions.

Arbuthnot and the committee seem determined that whatever does go, it shouldn't be free tech research for the UK weapons industry. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Simon's says quantum computing will work
Boffins blast algorithm with half a dozen qubits
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.