Feeds

More money for defence research, say MPs

Government's top boffin disagrees

High performance access to file storage

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. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
Get your MOON GEAR: Auction to feature Space Race memorabilia
Keepsakes from early NASA, Soviet programs up for bids
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.