Shadow chancellor says a Labour government would commit to increasing investment in research

The UK’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell has said a Labour government would aim to raise the amount spent on R&D to 3% of GDP by 2030.

Speaking at Imperial College London ahead of the Conservative government’s spending review, McDonnell said a lack of investment in research was harming the country. ‘Modern breakthroughs in research are the result of past investment by government, built on the foundations of an immense scientific and technical heritage. However, in science, technology and innovation, we are beginning to live off past glories. We can, and should, do better.’

He said the Labour government would plan to exceed the current EU recommendation of 3% spent on R&D, and would then ringfence this amount. Over the last few years the UK’s public research spending has dropped to less than 0.5% of GDP, and is likely to fall further unless the science budget is increased.

Naomi Weir, head of the Campaign for Science and Engineering group, welcomed McDonnell’s remarks, saying: ‘There is cross-party consensus that the UK needs to be investing more in R&D to remain internationally competitive. Mr McDonnell’s commitment is very welcome and we hope George Osborne will join him in setting a long-term, ambitious upward trajectory for investment in R&D.’