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Cuts row over Rover collapse.

The Government was today accused of endangering public safety after it emerged that pounds 68 million earmarked to help former MG Rover workers find jobs will be financed by wide-ranging cuts in science research programmes.

Department of Trade and Industry officials confirmed that half of the pounds 125 million spent by the Rover Task Force is to be found by axing funding for work on food safety, animal health, crop production, marine pollution and climate change.

The admission followed inquiries by the science union Prospect, which wrote to Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling asking him for an explanation.

The DTI said it faced financial pressures that required it to rebalance its spending.

Ongoing costs relating to the collapse of MG Rover and the rescue package put together for British Energy were cited as causes for the shortfall.

The decision means that pounds 68 million given to the UK Research Councils by the DTI will be clawed back.

Hardest hit is the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, which loses pounds 29 million.

The Medical Research Council stands to lose pounds 10.7 million, the Natural Environment Research Council pounds 9.7 million the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

pounds 6.7 million and the Arts and Humanities Research Council pounds 5.3 million

Sue Fearns, head of research for Prospect, said: "This demonstrates that when it comes to science there is a lack of strategic vision at the heart of government.

"One arm of government is doing one thing while another is doing something completely different and no-one is taking responsibility for the damage to the UK science base. This is expediency not strategy."
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Feb 23, 2007
Words:276
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