Outgoing and incoming Prime Ministers speak up for UK science this morning

26 June 2007

In a uniquely simultaneous gesture of support and encouragement for UK science, the incoming and outgoing Prime Ministers have both written letters of welcome to members of the science community attending a Royal Society of Chemistry event in central London this morning. 

Two hundred visitors attending a Royal Society of Chemistry event at the House of Commons today (26 June) will each be given coloured paper hand fans to draw attention to the hotter times ahead for the world unless scientists and politicians work together to mitigate the threat of climate change.

The fans will be provided when guests arrive at Portcullis House for Parliamentary Links Day (10.30am-12.45pm), an annual event staged by the Royal Society of Chemistry to explore issues of major importance by bringing the scientific and Westminster communities together. The Parliamentary Links Day is the largest scientific event held annually in the Houses of Parliament and involves active participation of sister organisations such as the Institute of Physics, the Institute of Biology, the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering.  

This year's theme is "Earth Air Fire Water: Science and the Global Challenge". Speakers from Government and Parliament include the Rt Hon David Miliband MP, Secretary of State for the Environment, and Alan Duncan MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. 

David Miliband

David Miliband speaking at Parliamentary Links Day


Outgoing and incoming Prime Ministers Gordon Brown and Tony Blair have both sent messages to guests at the event. Each underlined the role and importance of science and innovation while Mr Brown said: "Public investment in the science base will reach a record level of 6.3bn by 2010-11, more than double the level of 1997 in cash terms."

Mr Brown added: "I want the UK to be the most attractive place in which to do science."

Mr Blair said: "Rapidly developing countries have energy needs that are growing quickly. We need to work with them to minimise greenhouse gas emissions through the use of the most up-to-date technologies. Government action and scientific progress need to come together."

Mr Blair added: "We particularly need to make science a career to aspire to for girls as well as boys. Recruiting and retaining more science teachers remains a key priority."

Mr Blair highlighted the importance of teachers: "Unless we reward and value the people who transfer knowledge from one generation to the next we will suffer the consequences in declining prosperity."

David Miliband with a fan representing climate change

A fan of the RSC: Foreign Secretary David Miliband MP posed for the RSC at its Parliamentary Links Day where scientists met politicians to discuss climate change


After emerging from delivering a speech at the standing-room-only event where it was fairly airless, the fast-rising cabinet minister was offered a range of six fans depicting the consequences of global warming, painted at the invitation of the RSC by pupils at La Sante Union school in North London. 

Mr Miliband, tipped as a future Prime Minister, selected, not surprisingly, a fan portraying the Palace of Westminster under water with the Thames rising.

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