back to article UK PM splits govt department in 4, creates dedicated 'Science and Tech' bit

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has used a reshuffle of his cabinet of ministers to also usher into existence a dedicated department to focus on science and technology policy for the country, although when that will happen wasn't immediately clear. In an announcement yesterday, Sunak effectively revealed a dividing up of the …

  1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Davos

    The new division will also oversee the Online Safety Bill, which has suffered significant delays due to arguments between various factions within the ruling party.

    Delivering for Davos and not the British people.

    Conservative party forgot who elected them.

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: Davos

      "Conservative party forgot who elected them."

      They haven't.

      They're serving that particular group of knuckle dragging coffin dodgers rather well.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Davos

        Don't forget the people that paid them

      2. Woodnag

        the British people

        The British people haven't chosen a prime mininister for a while.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: the British people

          The British people never get to choose the Prime Minister. They choose MPs, but there's no requirement for the PM to be a member of the house of commons.

          1. Julz

            Re: the British people

            Or even be British.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Davos

      Conservative party forgot who elected them.

      So what? They didn't forget the plutocrats and oligarchs who bankroll the party.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Davos

        And I'm sure that if Labour get elected, they'll not forget their paymasters in the unions.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Davos

          Good grief, The Tory apologist's version of "SQUIRREL!!!" Yet again. Country on it's knees, but let's play Fantasy Someone Else In Charge. Labour won't get in. The Tory press won't allow it.

          1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

            Re: Davos

            It's its knees, isn't it?

            1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

              Re: Davos

              That was the last one, I promise.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Davos

            The Tory press won't allow it.

            Always someone else's fault, isn't it. Reality is such a bitch.

        2. gandalfcn Silver badge

          Re: Davos

          Bless. This isn't the Express/Telegraph/Mail you know.

        3. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: Davos

          A lot of the unions unimpressed with Labour (and plenty of Unions are disaffiliated). Labour / Starmer v. busy courting wealthy individuals / corporations for funding, purging as many socialists as they can (although still a few they dare not go after), Labour now essentially Tory Lite - essentially pushing flag shagging neoliberalism but implying they will be a bit less nasty than the conservatives. .

          .. Look at the recent noticeable lack of enthusiasm by Starmer & the shadow cabinet to show any support for recent strikes, effectively banning Labour MPs from picket lines etc.

          If Labour get control of next parliament, don't expect much socialism in their policies.

          That's why there's not much criticism of Starmer / Labour in the press as it would essentially be business as usual.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Davos

            Oh, Sir Kier Starmer isn't on the unions' side. He's just the acceptable figurehead to make Labour electable. If that actually happens I'd give him a year at most before he gets the boot and is replaced by LongBailey or someone similar. The Tories aren't the only party ready to kick out the leader chosen by the members if (s)he doesn't toe the line their Westminster gang is pushing, and to hell with what their voters wanted.

        4. wolfetone Silver badge

          @Phil O'Sophical

          Idiot.

          1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Re: @Phil O'Sophical

            Nope, just experienced.

    3. gandalfcn Silver badge

      Re: Davos

      Up[vote, however. "Conservative party forgot who elected them." No it hasn't, Gammon + conned Northern Brexiteers.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Obvious thing coming not made in the current re-org. The role of the "new" Energy and Net Zero quango is virtually identical to the stated remit of Ofgem.

    Given recent performance I would not be surprised to see the latter subsumed into the former.

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Ofgem is part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, so yes it will be transfered over to the new Energy department.

    2. AlbertH
      Pirate

      Oxymoronic!

      The clowns in Downing Street haven't realised that "Net Zero" is directly counter to their wish for "reliable power generation".

      As long as Westminster is peopled by arts graduates with no practical experience of anything, it doesn't really matter which variety of political dolts gets elected, the results will be largely the same. They're ALL incompetent, troughing fools!

  3. TRT Silver badge

    Sounds reasonably sensible...

    Whose idea actually was it? Did someone leave a draft manifesto paper in the Westminster photocopier again?

    1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Re: Sounds reasonably sensible...

      Is that what they mean by the machinery of government?

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Sounds reasonably sensible...

      Be interested to see the actual history of the idea, however, what is known is that Rishi thinks it will be easier to effect change to the civil service and the way departments work by creating new departments rather than to try and change an existing amalgam department.

      Suspect this will go down well with the rank-and-file Conservative MP's - four ministerial posts (and pay) instead of one...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A Strategy? A Policy? A Plan? ... no...just rearranging the offices and chairs in Whitehall......

    All talk!

    (1) UK GDP growth has been pathetic for thirty years (doubling, so 2.5% per annum -- much less if you allow for inflation)

    (2) Almost zero investment in semiconductors right now (when TSMC and others are investing around $100 billion in seven fabs in Arizona)

    (3) The former UK car industry is 100% owned overseas (and some of the manufacturing is also heading in that direction)

    (4) About futures -- a large proportion of the fees earned by UK universities come from foreign students (notably China)

    (5) And about #3 and #4, there's no strategy at all to foster local knowledge which could drive local economic development

    For item #1 see link: https://tradingeconomics.com/united-kingdom/gdp-growth-annual

    If you want a look at REAL GROWTH, and REAL TRANSFORMATION, then take a look at this graph from the Economist (January 21, 2023):

    Link: https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2023/01/17/a-flurry-of-new-studies-identifies-causes-of-the-industrial-revolution

    So....suppose there was a policy and a plan to get GDP growth up from around 0% to some healthier number:

    (6) Investment in the education of UK residents

    (7) Provision of tax shelters for GENUINE local investment

    (8) Provision of DIS-INCENTIVES for outbound investment

    (9) ....and so on.....

    ......would we be worried about the NHS?

    .....but no......all talk.....rearranging the offices and chairs in Whitehall............

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      (1) Indian consultancies are doing very well in the UK, especially after Sunak's IR35 changes. Didn't he double his family wealth in the last couple of years?

      (2) India is pumping billions in their new semiconductor industry now - we don't want to compete with them. Same with China. Wives will be upset if we did, if you know what I mean.

      (3) (used to be) Our great brands are owned by India

      (5) All tech jobs worth studying for are in Asia now.

      1. Woodnag

        tech jobs

        In China, Japan, Korea, India (etc), having a tech job engenders some measure of status.

        In the UK, the image of an 'engineer' is the person who comes to empty the crumbs out of Granny's toaster to stop the burning smell.

      2. H in The Hague

        "(3) (used to be) Our great brands are owned by India"

        Nah - Dennis Eagle (v nice refuse collection vehicles) are owned by a Dutch family company :)

    2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: A Strategy? A Policy? A Plan?

      >(2) Almost zero investment in semiconductors right now (when TSMC and others are investing around $100 billion in seven fabs in Arizona)

      We were ahead of the curve on that one when we invested in Inmos and the Transputer.

      I think I'm in the same boat as most MPs when it comes to demanding a semiconductor strategy though. Like ok, I could demand a fab plant capable of churning out 10m Z80A and 6502's a month, but.. I suspect there may be a limited market. If a fab plant costs >$10bn, then I'd rather hope it could produce lots of the stuff the market wants, and government has little real influence over. I have no idea how generic you can make a fab though, so one that's capable of doing a run to produce useful sized runs of whatever the market might want in 3-6 months. I guess a capability to produce cheap, generic SOC, memory and I/O could work, but then it's all the slice/dice/test/packaging gubbins that goes into converting sand to stuff people are willing to buy... Especially when we don't really have much of a domestic market designing and manufacturing products that need ICs.

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: A Strategy? A Policy? A Plan?

        There are still shortages of MCUs even though some fabs are peppered across the Europe they can't keep up.

        Practically everything today needs an MCU and typically multiple ones per device.

        They are not manufactured using "state of the art" technology, just good old 90nm or lower.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A Strategy? A Policy? A Plan?

          'They are not manufactured using "state of the art" technology, just good old 90nm or lower.'

          It's "90nm and above." If it was 90nm or lower then that would be 90, 65, 55, 45, 22, 14, 12/11, 7, 5, 3 ...

      2. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

        Re: A Strategy? A Policy? A Plan?

        The problem with chip fabs, is that the sort of chemistry involved in high-purity silicon manufacturing is either very expensive or very dirty. You can't compete with the US and Far East on "expensive" and can't compete with China on "dirty", so we'd end up with the worst of both worlds: overpriced chips nobody will buy unless there is no other supply, and lots of nasty pollution.

        1. blackcat Silver badge

          Re: A Strategy? A Policy? A Plan?

          Here we have one of the issues with net zero. The problem with a lot of manufacturing processes is they are energy and/or resource intensive. Both of those are bad for net zero. So we shift them overseas so the pollution is no longer on our books and then complain about the loss of knowledge.

          1. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

            Re: A Strategy? A Policy? A Plan?

            Where we can, and should, invest, is in high-tech green technologies. Processes, materials, manufacturing (which we're already quite good at for things like wind turbine blades which have a fair cross-over with the aerospace industry). Of course, things like brexit put a big old brake on the export market for those products, and brain-drain on the expertise we could otherwise easily draw on from mainland Europe. The problem really is that we have politicians who like big policy announcements, and like to give puffed-up speeches about "Great British" this-and-that, but can't be bothered to do any of the actual hard thinking that sustainable policy requires.They get more electoral success by moving onto the next sack-full of bluster and empty promises. The short-term election cycle exacerbates this, but fixing that problem is NP-hard.

            1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

              Re: A Strategy? A Policy? A Plan?

              Of course, things like brexit put a big old brake on the export market for those products, and brain-drain on the expertise we could otherwise easily draw on from mainland Europe.

              While Brexit is a factor, it's not responsible for the brain-drain. It was IR35 changes that were introduced at the same time. Work in the UK stopped being attractive.

              Specialists from around the world (incl EU) couldn't care less if the country they work in is in the EU - it's what they get paid matters.

            2. blackcat Silver badge

              Re: A Strategy? A Policy? A Plan?

              "and brain-drain on the expertise we could otherwise easily draw on from mainland Europe."

              Why bring it in from Europe? Are we not capable of generating local talent? Part of the issue is we've become reliant on someone/something from somewhere else.

            3. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Re: A Strategy? A Policy? A Plan?

              Where we can, and should, invest, is in high-tech green technologies. Processes, materials, manufacturing (which we're already quite good at for things like wind turbine blades which have a fair cross-over with the aerospace industry). Of course, things like brexit put a big old brake on the export market for those products, and brain-drain on the expertise we could otherwise easily draw on from mainland Europe.

              Nope, cold, hard reality put the brakes on those. Or should have, except our clueless politicians still think they're a good idea.

              So the tech isn't high, unless it's the drugs being smoked. Blades are often carbon fibre, which needs rather large ovens to bake them. Which needs energy, which the product has made expensive and unreliable. Then there's steel, where we have the same problem either in producing the tower sections, or just tons of rebar for foundations. Those also need a lot of concrete. Just the basics are fundamentally high energy consumers and carbon 'polluters'. Much the same with gearboxes and generators, and there'd be a lil bit of electronics for the control elements. Plus see also the latest financials from GE and Siemens about the cash they're bleeding thanks to warranty and maintenance costs. Turns out offshore construction is a harsh environment. Who knew? Except the entire oil & gas industry.

              We kinda almost tried to benefit from some of this stuff before as well. So Sheffield Forge Masters wanted some cash to forge large lumps of metal. Labour refused to fund this, claiming EU State Aid rules, which most of the other EU countries ignore. Unless they're raising objections or threats of litigation because it might threaten their own protected industry. Brexit is arguably a good thing because we're less beholden to Brussels for what we can and can't do. See also the way the EU's objecting to the US IRA subsidies for their 'green' industry.

              We do have more potential in the energy sector though, like getting Rolls Royce's SMRs into volume production. We know those pretty much work already given they've made the only new reactors to have gone critical/operational in the UK in a long time, eg the reactors installed in our Astute submarines. Greens of course object, because they're paid to keep the money flowing in the direction of our pre-Industrial wind technology.

              1. blackcat Silver badge

                Re: A Strategy? A Policy? A Plan?

                https://www.foxnews.com/politics/massive-green-energy-company-reports-1-billion-losses-calls-further-governmental-action

                It always seemed odd that we were one of the few EU countries that followed the rules. Or maybe the govt just didn't like heavy industry as it is smelly and dirty and 'old'.

                1. gandalfcn Silver badge

                  Re: A Strategy? A Policy? A Plan?

                  "we were one of the few EU countries that followed the rules" According to the Express!

                  1. Roland6 Silver badge

                    Re: A Strategy? A Policy? A Plan?

                    This is one point I agree with the Express!

                    The UK was a good member of the club and did much to encourage and cajole the other members to do likewise (namely follow the rules they had signed up to), even though at times it disadvantaged the UK.

            4. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: A Strategy? A Policy? A Plan?

              >and brain-drain on the expertise we could otherwise easily draw on from mainland Europe.

              That's not what I and I suspect many others would interpret a brain-drain to be. To me a brian-drain is like we had in the 1980's where UK nationals were voting with their feet and taking up jobs (and academic posts) in the US because not only did they pay better but also there was some really interesting stuff going on in Silicon Valley, which just wasn't happening in the UK...

              Yes, Brexit has resulted in an exodus of Europeans working in the UK and making the UK a less attractive place of work, but I'm not aware there has been a significant increase in UK nationals leaving the UK, yet. Although, unless the government rapidly makes the UK a desirable destination again for foreign R&D investment, there will be a brain-drain.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: A Strategy? A Policy? A Plan?

                "but I'm not aware there has been a significant increase in UK nationals leaving the UK"

                The UK is unable to count its citizens out, so how have you measured this?

          2. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: A Strategy? A Policy? A Plan?

            >Here we have one of the issues with net zero. The problem with a lot of manufacturing processes is they are energy and/or resource intensive. Both of those are bad for net zero.

            Disagree, I think the issue is more with how people perceive "net zero" to mean everything we do at a granular level should be net zero, rather than at the national level. Applied at the national level and you have room for energy/resource intensive (ie. producers of greenhouse gases) as well as those who take in greenhouse gases.

            Obviously, we want the producers of greenhouse gases to review their processes so as to minimise their footprint, but I don't see an issue with having steel production and aiming for net zero.

            1. blackcat Silver badge

              Re: A Strategy? A Policy? A Plan?

              "as well as those who take in greenhouse gases."

              I'm not sure we have any of that in the UK.

              "but I don't see an issue with having steel production and aiming for net zero."

              Nor do I, except aim for something meaningful in terms of reduction rather than the wishy washy 'net zero' BUT the govt has set goals and wants to meet those goals as quickly as possible so you go after the easy targets and those are the big producers. We can get steel from lots of other places so it makes for an easy decision. Keeping UK steel AND reducing pollution is hard and costly. Ditching UK steel just means upsetting a few union people.

        2. Woodnag

          Re: A Strategy? A Policy? A Plan?

          Hi-rel ICs with radiation tolerance for mil/space apps can be on 0.5µm processes. And China 'snot on the supplier list for those.

      3. R Soul Silver badge

        Re: A Strategy? A Policy? A Plan?

        "We were ahead of the curve on that one when we invested in Inmos and the Transputer."

        And that explains what made Inmos and the Transputer the spectacular financial and technological successes they are today.

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: A Strategy? A Policy? A Plan?

          And that explains what made Inmos and the Transputer the spectacular financial and technological successes they are today.

          One of those statements is true, and unlike my previous comment, isn't sarcasm. The Transputer pioneered many of the concepts that were later copied by Intel and the usual suspects, so arguably it was very advanced and a technological success. Snag was the financials. Many years ago, I went on an SNA course (a FUN! IBM networking architecture). Tutor pointed out Ford used far more CPUs than the entire PC industry, which had 'standardised' around non-Inmos chips.. which were considered too powerful/too expensive. I mean who needs multi/parallel processing, speed, or SoC functionality?

          30-40 years later, turns out 'everyone', but too late for Inmos.

          But so it goes. Maybe we could come up with the next Transputer, and we'd have the same challenge, namely getting customers to use it. Especially given the price/performance of current semis, which is kinda back to the SNA thing. That was to run the network for what was at the time the largest IBM (Ok, Amdahl 5990-1400E) mainframe in Europe, which had less compute power than an iPhone does now. And the iPhone doesn't need an expensive and complicated chilled water feed to stop it smoking.

          So I still have no idea what politicians are demanding or expecting from a strategy. Innovation is nice, but a huge gamble. Finding a niche that isn't already occupied by existing competitors with a lower cost-base seems rather unlikely. Having capacity that can fire up if/when China decides to re-unify would be good from a supply chain point of view, but enormously expensive. And I guess lurking behind the scenes is a huge amount of IPR complexity about who has the rights to produce what kinds of chips.

    3. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: A Strategy? A Policy? A Plan? ... no...

      >(1) UK GDP growth has been pathetic for thirty years (doubling, so 2.5% per annum -- much less if you allow for inflation)

      Worldwide growth has also been pathetic, basically rising in line with population growth which has for many decades averaged 2%. However, maths shows with respect to growth we are living in a world of small and shrinking numbers (probably won't be long before GDP changes of 0.01% are reported). The only real solution is to let go of our obsession with an ever-increasing GDP.

  5. NewModelArmy

    Prediction - More Of The Same

    I expect that the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero will have minimal budget, and the UK will subsequently fail at this due to the tug of war for funding between the 4 departments.

    Besides this, then it will be more of the same - see the following parody video which sums up the Tories succinctly.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jz5jUMVfJP4

    1. blackcat Silver badge

      Re: Prediction - More Of The Same

      It should be renamed "Department for Energy Security or Net Zero"

      But then net zero is a con to shift emissions to the 'global south' and pretend we have done a good job.

      Governments, no matter the colour, only care about the next few days or weeks and just want a quick fix. The only 'long term' they care about is how long they stay in power.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Prediction - More Of The Same

      I'm not sure about that. Grant Shapps is the new Minister. He's one of the party bigwigs, so I doubt he would have accepted a demotion (from the old BEIS). The BBC reported that he was going to be treated as a key minister, one rung down from the four Great Offices of State. I assume the department will have to be adequately funded for all this to be the case.

      1. NewModelArmy

        Re: Prediction - More Of The Same

        I think Grant Shapps needs a big wig so he can be one of his personas

        "Shapps's use of the names Michael Green, Corinne Stockheath and Sebastian Fox attracted controversy in 2012. He denied having used a pseudonym after entering parliament and, in 2014, threatened legal action against a constituent who had stated on Facebook that he had. In February 2015, he publicly said: "I don't have a second job and have never had a second job while being an MP. End of story."

        However, in March 2015, Shapps admitted to having had a second job while being an MP, and practising business under a pseudonym. In his admission, he stated that he had "over-firmly denied" having a second job. In March 2015, Dean Archer, the constituent previously threatened with legal action by Shapps, threatened Shapps with legal action".

        From : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grant_Shapps

        Somehow, Shapps is seen as credible now....

        1. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge
          IT Angle

          Re: Prediction - More Of The Same

          Not by me, he isn't. It's worth pointing out, as well, that those false names were used to tout get-rich-quick schemes on the internet, and BAM! There's your IT angle.

        2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Re: Prediction - More Of The Same

          he stated that he had "over-firmly denied" having a second job

          I'm not drink driving, officer, I've simply over-firmly consumed my beer.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Prediction - More Of The Same

        "Grant Shapps is the new Minister. ... I doubt he would have accepted a demotion"

        That clueless charlatan is too thick to recognise a demotion if it hit him in the face. He's been an epic fail in every role in his political career. Remember his Photoshop fuckup from 1-2 weeks ago? He's only got a ministerial post because Sunak has had to scrape underneath the bottom of the barrel, like he had to do for the rest of his cabinet.

  6. WonkoTheSane Silver badge
    Trollface

    You're all missing the point here!

    Splitting one department into 4 means 3 more sets of highly-paid ministerial posts for those who prove best at sucking up to the PM!

    1. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

      Re: You're all missing the point here!

      Don't forget those juicy ministerial pensions that they'll qualify for, even if they're in the post for just one day.

      1. NewModelArmy

        Re: You're all missing the point here!

        And... don't forget the medal. They are proposing to give MP's et al medals. (and a nice big handshale too, for.... failure, because they lost their seats)

    2. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: You're all missing the point here!

      @WonkoTheSane

      And yet I dare you to try and make the argument for smaller government and less government interference. People lose their minds

      1. NewModelArmy

        Re: You're all missing the point here!

        My interpretation of that, is that is has to do more with what is the intent of less government in the specific scenario being discussed.

        If you look at energy security and competition, Ofgem failed, yet less government in that area would have meant a greater mess.

        I think people want governments to be capable, and do the right thing for the country, not force ideology upon people, which is detrimental to the country.

        Maybe these extra departments will work for the country. Yet, our isolation due to brexit is not helping at all.

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: You're all missing the point here!

          @NewModelArmy

          "My interpretation of that, is that is has to do more with what is the intent of less government in the specific scenario being discussed."

          Government is forever growing and will justify its existence even if its to the detriment of the country. And people will support its existence. Try to find parts of the bloated beast that is the gov that people will accept being removed without arguing.

          "If you look at energy security and competition, Ofgem failed, yet less government in that area would have meant a greater mess."

          Energy insecurity has been government policy for 2 decades. People have voted based on cheap and free energy by erecting monuments to sky gods instead of actually generating any. Even now some idiot will try and defend unreliables.

          "I think people want governments to be capable, and do the right thing for the country, not force ideology upon people, which is detrimental to the country."

          That would be a small government staying out of the way. Otherwise its an oxymoron. No government can have fingers in all the pies and not force ideology. The 'right' thing is highly subjective and the more capable it is the more it has to enforce. Look at energy policy for example.

          "Maybe these extra departments will work for the country. Yet, our isolation due to brexit is not helping at all."

          And this falls into the more government side of the problem. As I have never had answered- how does adding more crap government on top of crap government improve things?

          Or as per our little conversation- how does adding another layer of government reduce government?

          1. NewModelArmy

            Re: You're all missing the point here!

            We may be talking at cross purposes.

            To me, small government means less regulation. This is not the right approach as less regulation in the city, energy, water etc., has caused no end of problems.

            Whether the numbers are large or small, as long as the policies implemented and the strategy protects the people, whilst encouraging business, then that is all that matters.

            The Tories have no vision, except for some reason, referencing the past glories as if they can magic them into existence for today and tomorrow.

            1. blackcat Silver badge

              Re: You're all missing the point here!

              The US govt is HUGE and has in some places the most lax regulations you can get in a 'developed' country and in other places it has 5 regulations for the same thing. There would be riots if we had US tap water quality.

              We have lots of regulations but no-one polices them and even less people enforce them.

              There needs to be better focus.

              1. Citizen of Nowhere

                Re: You're all missing the point here!

                >We have lots of regulations but no-one polices them and even less people enforce them.

                Indeed, and that is entirely intentional. That way the politicians can say they introduced "tough" regulations to deal with a problem, while actually not interfering at all with the aberrant practices and profiteering of the companies who will give them cushy sinecures in the future.

            2. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: You're all missing the point here!

              @NewModelArmy

              "To me, small government means less regulation. This is not the right approach as less regulation in the city, energy, water etc., has caused no end of problems."

              Small government means less government in size, interference and regulation. Regulation is required but it has to be easy to follow and applicable. Over-regulation is damaging too and becomes increasingly difficult to enforce.

              "Whether the numbers are large or small, as long as the policies implemented and the strategy protects the people, whilst encouraging business, then that is all that matters."

              That is the balance we should strive for except we are dealing with politicians. Politicians strive to get elected, not to protect the people and encourage business. A politician who has such desire to improve the country finds the problem of being in the world of politics.

              "The Tories have no vision, except for some reason, referencing the past glories as if they can magic them into existence for today and tomorrow."

              To be fair I cant see vision in any of the party leaders. I would argue Truss had vision and was potentially trying to do what she thought right for the country (regardless of peoples opinions of what she envisioned). I dont think there is any vision in the parties because they are all trying to occupy the same political ground with little to really differentiate their opinions.

          2. Cav Bronze badge

            Re: You're all missing the point here!

            You keep wittering on about "unreliables". The fact that you don't know how to easily make renewables reliable is your problem, not a problem with the concept. Energy can be stored without the need for polluting, exploitative chemical batteries. If every house in the UK was fitted with solar panels and there were local wind farms, they would be just fine. Well insulated too, of course.

            Wind, solar and tidal can easily provide unlimited energy. We just have to overcome the NIMBYs and invest.

            Supporting a continuation of things as they are is idiotic.

            And your support of small government is equally idiotic. Are you old enough to remember 2007/8?

            Energy price control was the right thing to do, by any sane.compassionate measure. Moving away from fossil fuels is a critical necessity.

            1. codejunky Silver badge
              FAIL

              Re: You're all missing the point here!

              @Cav

              "The fact that you don't know how to easily make renewables reliable is your problem, not a problem with the concept."

              Ok. But that NOBODY knows how to make unreliables reliable only makes it my problem when the energy companies are talking about blackouts.

              "Energy can be stored without the need for polluting, exploitative chemical batteries."

              You have an economical solution that actually works? What are you doing here? You should be out there telling the big players, all those R&D groups and big businesses that are struggling to achieve this! You could be useful!

              "If every house in the UK was fitted with solar panels and there were local wind farms, they would be just fine. Well insulated too, of course."

              So the insulation debate falls over quickly as its not possible (nor allowed) to insulate all UK property to the 'desired' level. Lots of mushroom farms though. But when winter hits we would be royally screwed as the wind dies down and the days are shorter. But this would only take every single house to be fitted with solar panels and local wind farms even with the current cries of not having enough of the dangerously polluting materials to make them with. But in the cold and dark we will be fine.

              "Wind, solar and tidal can easily provide unlimited energy. We just have to overcome the NIMBYs and invest."

              You mean like that council who invested in solar and is now with a massive debt? How can wind/solar/tidal provide unlimited energy? The energy output has limits and is often a fraction of the stated output. It would require massive investment in gas supplies including fracking just to keep the lights on however.

              "Supporting a continuation of things as they are is idiotic."

              I agree. Our push for renewables has reduced our gas storage even though the unreliables are not viable if we do not have gas backup. Germany pushing for green energy has had to fall back to brown coal in desperation. Putin holds Europe over a barrel because of the push for green energy. The UK almost had blackouts because of the green energy push. The current green madness is idiotic, I have pointed this out for some time. The technology doesnt work, it still doesnt work and until it works reliably doesnt work.

              "And your support of small government is equally idiotic. Are you old enough to remember 2007/8?"

              You mean big government 2007/8? Please tell me you are trolling or wanted to put sarc at the end of your comment.

              "Energy price control was the right thing to do, by any sane.compassionate measure. Moving away from fossil fuels is a critical necessity."

              And on both sides of that line is insanity. If you reduce the price below the cost of supply you get less supply. Venezuela found out with toilet paper. And if you want to move away from fossil fuels you go live in the bush with some poison ivy covering your bits. Good luck to you.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: You're all missing the point here!

                This reads like regurgitated Tufton nonsense ..... Oh It is. Carry on!

  7. andy 103
    Joke

    Couldn't make it up

    ...make sure the UK is the most innovative economy in the world

    I'd like some of whatever he's smoking please.

    "drive the innovation that will deliver improved public services, create new and better-paid jobs and grow the economy."

    #brexit

    You couldn't make this shit up.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Couldn't make it up

      Shit like that gets made up all the time.

    2. hoola Silver badge

      Re: Couldn't make it up

      We are innovative, the list of things that smart people in the UK have invented is long.

      That most of those inventions or technologies have then been left to wither and then be bought by foreign companies is actually the critical problem.

      The UK is utterly incapable of looking long term on anything. It is partly political, too many see-saw changes, even if the same party is in power and short term returns that investors demand.

      1. NewModelArmy

        Re: Couldn't make it up

        I agree we are innovative, but the world has changed.

        The scope of technology is so wide, that new discoveries are the slither in that range. Whereas before a CPU design and IP is still significantly relevant, new discoveries are not the significant world changing events they once were.

        Since Brexit, the attitude of the Tories is that we can do everything, and lead the world. We can't. We don't have the resources, many countries are at the same level as us or further ahead, and the short termism (as highlighted by you) denies us success.

        We have to collaborate with other countries, but that approach is seen as contrary to the ideology.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Couldn't make it up

      Every country does that, companies do it, individuals do it.

      Sunak could literally shit diamonds and hand them out and people here would still be critical.

  8. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

    Sounds to me like a way of avoiding "targets"

    I mean, you can't say whether the government has delivered on its promises* if it changes what it's measuring half-way through. If you constantly change all the departments and projects around, nobody can demonstrate that they are getting nothing done.

    It's an old trick, like the time they changed the way they measure child poverty year-on-year, so nobody could say for definite how many children are going hungry and point out the government's poor record.

    *You can, the answer is always "no"

  9. Scott Broukell

    Wishi Washi Sunak - ensuring the hard working lowly populace receive a share of abso-bloody useless net zero anything, whilst Tory chums coin it in! T'was ever thus.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      We need to replace him with strong and stable <note to Ed, find me a politician that alliterates with strong and stable >

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Department of STI

    Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT). .... Missed a treat there... If only Department for STI

    The last time I went to the DSTI all I got was a prescription for the burning - nothing about science, or technology :-)

    1. WonkoTheSane Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Department of STI

      The government should also bundle Housing into that department.

      I leave it to the advanced reader to decide where in the acronym it should sit.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Department of STI

      >Department for STI

      The WRX is fun, but I'm not sure it needs an entire dept

      1. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

        Re: Department of STI

        There's probably several full time jobs there, for body panel and re-spray specialists.

        See, at least one person got your reference (to the car my 75 year-old mother drives, honest! It's a white one, too, well it would be if you washed the mud off it for five minutes.)

    3. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Department of STI

      The problem is that Higher Education, that is Universities, come under the DfE, not the DSIT. They really should combine the two.

      Department of Science, Higher Education, Innovation and Technology.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Department of STI

        But most of the students in higher education don't do STEM so it should be under the department of culture, media and sport - and you might as well move science and industry under there as well

  11. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Flame

    Department of

    energy security????????

    Excuse me while I fall off my perch laughing

    Bit rich coming from the party that SHUT DOWN OUR 90 DAY GAS RESERVES so that british gas(or whatever they call themselves these days) could make money by selling off the gas in the reserve and then save money by not having to mantain said reserve tanks

    And I promise not to mention that the self same government was warned 12 years ago that our power stations were coming to their end of lives in 12 yrs or so and did FUCK ALL about it... oops I did mention it..

    Shuffling deckchairs on the titanic did something useful.... I doubt this bunch of idiots are even capable of that..

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Department of

      So basically it's all Corbyn's fault, along with the BBC.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Department of

        Don't forget the immigrants and the wokerati Trans people.

    2. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: Department of

      @Boris the Cockroach

      "And I promise not to mention that the self same government was warned 12 years ago that our power stations were coming to their end of lives in 12 yrs or so and did FUCK ALL about it... oops I did mention it.."

      To be fair they were in coalition at the time of this. As per the egg on Nick Cleggs face for making the comment about not being worth doing as it will take 12 years to come online

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Department of

        "SQUIRREL!!!"

        The Right: Fucking everyone, shitting on everything but, "It's not our fault, it's THEIR fault!!!"

    3. Binraider Silver badge

      Re: Department of

      To be fair, the government didn't shut down the gas storage facility at Rough. Centrica demanded the public purse pay for it's renewal, because they didn't want to pay for it themselves. The government refused these demands, and Centrica wound down the facility. From the POV of the facility, it was old, and a lot of expensive equipment was approaching state requiring replacement.

      The paradox of energy storage is that when it's of low value, you don't want to create it. At times when the value becomes apparent the price is then too high to do anything about it. The solution to the lack of long term planning by a government motivated only by PR; and private companies governed by greed is, and can only be central planning ran in an ethical and efficient manner.

      No doubt the die hard Express/Mail readers aren't able to accept that maybe some decisions made in the 1980's were flawed.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Department of

        @Binraider

        "The paradox of energy storage is that when it's of low value, you don't want to create it. At times when the value becomes apparent the price is then too high to do anything about it. The solution to the lack of long term planning by a government motivated only by PR; and private companies governed by greed is, and can only be central planning ran in an ethical and efficient manner."

        Said Stalin. But more seriously, the central planning (still politicians) was to phase out fossil fuels by X date making gas storage a loss maker. Begging private sector to give their money to be lost doesnt invoke excitement. Ethical central planning would be to ditch green madness and ensure we had power generation first. It wouldnt involve insisting a working technology to be disbanded on a particular year with no usable working technology available to replace it. And if that technology was any good the central planners wouldnt be needed as private would move to it as it is better.

        When central planning is the problem the solution is probably not central planning.

        1. Binraider Silver badge

          Re: Department of

          Stating the bloody obvious, Gas Generation without a fuel supply (storage, or otherwise) makes no sense, and gas storage absolutely is a profitable venture. Centrica thought they could take the piss, and got caught at it. Good. Native gas supplies have mostly been burned up. So the only option is importing.

          Coal is dying/dead, and won't be coming back. Get over it.

          Nuke for baseload remains by far the most stable solution to generation; however, the commercial drivers given the cost of developing nuke are do not stack up. (If they did, then governments would not have to offer backhanders by the ton to get nukes built).

          Your options available off the shelf today are Gas, Nukes, and Renewables. So what will it be?

          Free market price-gouging doesn't care, and will tend towards gas and Price gouging. Central planning offers the ability to make these decisions in a manner in the interests of consumers rather than in the interests of generators. Why be so terrified when an alternative model that offers obvious advantages is right there on the plate.

          I know I won't convince you or other Mail readers otherwise so my typing is probably wasted.

          1. blackcat Silver badge

            Re: Department of

            "(If they did, then governments would not have to offer backhanders by the ton to get renewables built)."

            Fixed it for you. One of the big wind turbine manufacturers has revealed almost $1 billion in losses in the last year. If renewables worked they'd be raking it in. The whole system is built on subsidies.

          2. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: Department of

            @Binraider

            "Stating the bloody obvious, Gas Generation without a fuel supply (storage, or otherwise) makes no sense, and gas storage absolutely is a profitable venture. Centrica thought they could take the piss, and got caught at it. Good. Native gas supplies have mostly been burned up. So the only option is importing."

            Nope. Gas storage gains returns in decades, and we have governments hostile to fossil fuel. If it was so profitable and they were just taking the piss then they would have funded it themselves in the end to get the money.

            "Coal is dying/dead, and won't be coming back. Get over it."

            Is it? Last I checked there are coal plants being built around the world. The last 2 winters have necessitated our mothball coal plants to be brought online and ready to supply our needs. It is so dead that we need it as a backup currently.

            "Nuke for baseload remains by far the most stable solution to generation; however, the commercial drivers given the cost of developing nuke are do not stack up. (If they did, then governments would not have to offer backhanders by the ton to get nukes built)."

            Good solution. Over-regulated and difficult to get the stupid politicians to agree to. Add greenies who have feared nukes for decades and it would be bold to build.

            "Your options available off the shelf today are Gas, Nukes, and Renewables. So what will it be?"

            Except renewables dont work so we need to take that off the table (for a reliable source) and that leaves us with what works. Under 'renewables' is biomass which apparently outputs more Co2 than coal. If you subscribe to MMCC Co2 theory then biomass must be removed. That leaves fossil fuel and nukes.

            "Free market price-gouging doesn't care, and will tend towards gas and Price gouging."

            Yes. And that is what we want. We want them to see a cheap fuel and make profit using it. And competitors see this glorious profit and charge in to grab some. And the competition improves service, increases supply and lowers prices. As it has been, will be and is. The Venezuela option of government running it cocks it all up in short measure.

            "Central planning offers the ability to make these decisions in a manner in the interests of consumers rather than in the interests of generators."

            So said Stalin. History is not on your side.

            "Why be so terrified when an alternative model that offers obvious advantages is right there on the plate."

            Its been tried, tested and found dangerously bad. In fact central planning caused the problem we currently have.

            "I know I won't convince you or other Mail readers otherwise so my typing is probably wasted."

            Poor assumption that I am a Mail reader.

            1. blackcat Silver badge

              Re: Department of

              https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidblackmon/2022/11/15/china-maintains-plans-for-massive-additional-coal-expansion/?sh=8244612e35b1

              "German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced in October plans to reactivate five coal-fired power plants which burn lignite"

              "If fully realized, the additions would give China a coal-fired power plant fleet six times the size of current U.S. capacity."

              Coal ain't dead. The 'global south' is desperate for energy and you can literally just dig it up.

  12. Frustrated Engineer

    What about Engineering?

    Scientists don't innovate or create technology, engineers do. And they maintain large parts of the country's infrastructure.

    If engineers were to stop working the country would quickly grind to a halt. If scientists stopped working what would change? Maybe some things but not a lot.

    Where's a policy for engineering and engineers - their education, training and employment?

    1. NewModelArmy

      Re: What about Engineering?

      In the UK, the engineering role has been degraded, and compared to the European attitudes, is not held in high regard at all. UK management seems to have the attitude that engineers are idiots and have to be managed, whilst an engineer could easily complete the function of a manager. Managers are held in higher esteem than engineers - here in the UK.

      Offshoring work has seen engineering roles decline, and the cost of the cheaper labour overseas has led to the decline in attitudes towards engineers here too.

      The experience and capability of engineers is not recognised as an asset by managers, so they are seen as a group to be controlled or treated poorly.

      I don't see it ever changing now. There will always be a glut of willing people from overseas to complete the engineering function at a much reduced cost, or as has also happened, the race to the bottom roles offering minimum wage.

      About 12 years ago i saw a role advertised internally in the company i worked for which was 2 grades below the expected grade/pay range. I spoke to one of the people on the groups offering the post, and they agreed that the pay range was woefully inadequate for the role and responsibilities. It was stated that HR had compared the role to outside industry and concluded that the grade/pay was appropriate. For the company in question, it was about reducing costs, not that the role was tuned to external factors.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What about Engineering?

        I've recently published a report where we tracked the number of staff multiplied by years-of-service in engineering roles; and plotted that data over multiple years. It is not surprising, or pleasant reading.

        HR and Senior Manglement continue to wave the white flag of "people will move job every three years" to which our retort is that you will never develop or replace the skills the company or the country needs to operate at the level we have in the past if you retain them for short periods. Considering the volume of work for next ten years is roughly treble what it has been for the last ten; asking the inexperienced to deal with more is a recipe for disaster.

        Underlying the direction are decisions in government (not company) to constrain costs in certain areas that; while I understand the objective; cannot be met with the change in demand for the services in question. They might be possible to do something about by cutting the dividend; however, doing that means the source of investment drops significantly thus taking you back to square one.

        Have-your-cake-and-eat-it never works. And here we are with a government applying potentially ruinous policies for the UK if left unchecked; that cannot be fixed overnight.

        Less senior manglement agree and are taking up the torch with my arguments. They may fall on deaf ears elsewhere, but one cannot say we did not attempt to do the right thing.

        A/C because I am sure you can work out what company I am referring to with a few coded comments left in the message.

  13. Ian Mason

    Junior Manager realises that his job is soon for the chop unless he does something.

    Junior Manager realises that his job is soon for the chop unless he does something. Organises hasty reorganisation of the office, orders new office carpet with the company logo in it, realises that he doesn't have a luxury liner but orders deckchairs anyway and puts someone in charge of arranging them, and hopes that by looking really busy nobody notices that he has fixed nothing and that his reorganisation has cost a small fortune.

    Anyone who's been around a bit will recognise the syndrome, and anyone who's been around a bit will start polishing their CV when they see it happening in the company that they work for. It's a bit trickier to deal with when you recognise the syndrome and it's not your company that is fucked but your country.

  14. Yes Me Silver badge
    Meh

    Strangely familiar...

    "A statement on the newly created DSIT web presence states that the department will focus on positioning the UK at the forefront of global scientific and technological advancement." [in 2023, according to The Register]

    'At the outbreak of the First World War "Britain found ... it was dangerously dependent on enemy industries"... The DSIR was set up to fill the roles that the White Paper specified: "to finance worthy research proposals, to award research fellowships and studentships [in universities], and to encourage the development of research associations in private industry and research facilities in university science departments." ' [in 1914, according to Wikipedia]. The DSIR was abolished in 1965 (by a Labour government under Harold Wilson with his "white heat" of the technolgical revolution).

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

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