In a now common procedure, the actual figures were released in a written answer to a question from a MP, thus avoiding any debate about the figures. The figure for the next financial year will be £1, 338.326 million, an increase of 0.6% on last year but 2% below the official inflation rate.

However, the figures for the two research councils which support most of the physicists in UK universities have fallen slightly. The budget of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is down by 0.87%, while that of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) will fall by 0.3%.

The lobby group Save British Science Society was not impressed: "this is not what we expect from a government whose Prime Minister has committed it to correcting the effects of past under-funding" it said in a press release.

Science Budget allocations

£ million
1997-98 1998-99
BBSRC183.300185.739
ESRC64.89665.990
EPSRC386.373382.982
MRC289.070290.208
NERC165.116171.771
PPARC191.850191.268
International Subscription Reserve8.8003.028
CCLRC1.4501.462
Pensions11.53012.298
Royal Society22.27122.621
Royal Academy3.3703.436
OST Initiatives2.3022.376
Joint Research Equipment Initiative--4.147
LINK/Foresight--1.000
Total1, 330.3271, 338.326