Vince Cable, secretary of state of business and innovation, gave his first major speech on science yesterday. Given the stage of the spending review we are currently in, science policy watchers eagerly awaited his words. They were looking for a sense of direction, or any reassurances about levels of investment, and were largely disappointed. Here’s what our President, Lord Rees, wrote about the speech in this morning’s Financial Times (registration required, I’m afraid).Lord Rees also issued this statement:

“Science is an international enterprise where the UK is strong. Other nations, including the US, are raising their expenditure at the same time as our government plans to cut ours. This will make the UK less attractive to mobile talent. And it risks sending a signal to young people that the UK is no longer a country that aspires to scientific leadership. A cut by ‘X percent’ would lead to a decline of much more than ‘X percent’ in top-grade scientific output. It is sad that this government appears willing to risk one of the few areas where the UK has a genuine competitive economic advantage — one which, when lost, could not be readily recovered. The question should not be can we afford the investment – it should be can we afford the cuts.”

Here’s some more coverage of the speech:

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