Hard to believe, but the following exchange is quite genuine. It is an extract from the Sixth Report of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Science and Technology, HC203, the Scrutiny Report for session 2005-6, published April 2007, and including evidence taken on Jan 17th 2007 (section “Ev49”)
Chris Mole : an MP who was a member of the Committee.
Malcolm Wicks : Science Minister at the time (now its Ian Pearson).
Keith O’Nions : DG of Science and Innovation. Mr Big.
Plot so far
The infamous merger of CCLRC and PPARC to make STFC has already been
stitched up agreed, and Wicks and O’Nions are being grilled on whether its all happening as planned …
Now Read on :
Q294 Chris Mole: Minister, last year the Government published the Science and Innovation Investment Framework 2004–14 subtitled Next Steps and then held a consultation on it. What has been done since the publication of the responses to the consultation document in September last year to move forward the Next Steps agenda?
Malcolm Wicks: I think some of the discussion we have had already is relevant to this… (blah blah … then continues ..) The statutory instruments have now gone through the two Houses so we are well on the way to establishing that formally in April; is that right, Sir Keith?
Professor Sir Keith O’Nions: Formally in April but it will probably be July before warm bodies are—I will stop.
Malcolm Wicks: Stop there. I think that is a very large part of it. We have also, of course, put forward the plan to merge two of our leading research councils, those concerned with large facilities, which I need to know more about. Again, I wonder if Sir Keith could just bring us up to date on where we are, but in terms of statutory instruments we have got formal approval.
Professor Sir Keith O’Nions: It went through to the Technology Strategy Board and the STFC—a merger of PPARC and CCLRC went through the two Houses at the same time. We are completely on track with STFC.
Malcolm Wicks: Did you say “merger”? I though you said “murder”.
Professor Sir Keith O’Nions: No, it was definitely a “g”.
Malcolm Wicks: Oh, it was a merger, yes, which is the way to look at it, of course.
Professor Sir Keith O’Nions: That is on track for starting in April at the beginning of the new financial year. There is a chief executive designate, Keith Mason. We have interviewed for a chair and later this week I will be putting advice to the Minister and Secretary of State on a chair for STFC and, of course, that is a prime ministerial appointment ultimately. That is where we are.
Wicks (sotto voce): Diss Mole guy is a problem. Keith, I want you to make shure he got company on der way home, capiche ?
O’Nions (perfectly boldly): Hey, I ever let you down ?
Well, ok, I made up that last bit, but the rest is verbatim. Talk about letting the cat out of the bag.
I thought you were embellishing, until I looked at the original transcript. O’Nions definitely said ‘murder of PPARC and CCLRC’. The only thing I wonder is whether he was stroking a small white furry cat as he said it.
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