the road to los alamos
views from the chalk face
The Ministry of Defence in this country is reluctant to answer questions in and out of Parliament about its funding for research and development in university science departments.
In 1990 it deflected answers to the following questions:
Why has the MoD increased spending on research and development since 1984?
Would a list of projects funded by Porton Down be made available?
Would a breakdown of Porton Down contracts for each financial year from 1979 be supplied?
How many higher education staff working on MoD projects are required to have security clearance?
How many projects relating to nerve gases and anthrax are funded?
The bulk of the MoDs spending in universities is on research (£20m in1989/90) rather than on development (about £2m annually). Obviously academic institutions have more personnel and facilities for research projects; but in any case it is research that is discreetly furthest from the military destination for which it is required. Furthermore, detailed researches can be split into several projects so that ultimate military use cannot necessarily be deduced. That there are ultimate military uses is not in doubt: there is no other justification for the expenditure.
The MoD funds projects in the majority of this countrys higher education institutions. Sometimes its hidden agenda becomes apparent, as in the case of the veterinary department at Bristol University. Over 30 universities and colleges have conducted research projects funded by the chemical and biological warfare research establishment at Porton Down. Over 12 have had projects funded by the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston. The Government Communications Headquarters, the electronic spying centre, has paid for services from over 9 universities, in areas such as speech research, direction finding, microelectronics, signals and communications satellites.
The MoD also spends more than half of its total research and development budget on contracts carried out by armaments manufacturers, who in turn contract work to higher education institutions. Multinational corporations such as Hawker Siddeley, Esso and British Aerospace are among those which have received MoD contracts and have also sponsored academic research projects.