Next Prime Minister must not lose the UK’s reputation as tech “superpower”, says House of Lords
Members of the House of Lords have urged the next UK Prime Minister to “drive progress towards science and technology targets”, or lose the country’s reputation as a science and technology “superpower”.
A report from the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee published this week says that the UK government must do better to improve its “inconsistent and unclear” science policy.
It outlined targets the UK government has set itself, including the promise to increase the proportion of GDP spent on research and development (R&D) to 2.4% by 2027 and to make the UK a “science and tech superpower” by 2030.
Currently, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss are both in the running to become leader of the governing Conservative Party, which will also make them Prime Minister of the UK, after Boris Johnson resigned from the position last month.
The report says, that whilst the government has positively established a new body for the Office for Science and Technology Strategy (OSTS) and increased public funding for UK Research and Innovation, there is still “much work to do to deliver on these targets”.
The committee accused the government of appearing to lack an overarching plan for strategic development in this area of research. Therefore it is necessary to identify areas of science and technology that the UK could specialise in, and that it needs to be more specific on its priorities.
Members of the House of Lords said that the government has identified few clear, measurable outcomes that it wants the funding to achieve.
They also added that unclear targets and poor communication could jeopardise the achievement of the government’s ambitions.
The House of Lords has stressed in the report that there is, “at the time of writing, no Minister for Science, Research and Innovation.”. Adding, “it must be a priority for a new Prime Minister to appoint one to a cabinet-level position.”
The report concluded by saying: “A clear and consistent science and technology policy has the potential to unlock significant benefits for the UK, and many of the pieces are in place to meet the Government’s ambitions. But there must be a laser focus on implementation, or “science and tech superpower” will become an empty slogan.”
Subscribe to our Editor's weekly newsletter