In 1911 Chancellor of the Exchequer Lloyd George passed the National Insurance Act. The law set a historical precedent, channelling up to a penny per working person per year into medical research. The government appointed a committee (the Medical Research Committee) to oversee the administration of funds. In 1913, this yielded £57,000 for science (equivalent to around £4 million today). TB – then responsible for around 50,000 deaths a year in the UK – was to be a major research focus. Seven years later the establishment of a Royal Charter for medical research effectively separated the administration of finances for scientific investigation from the National Insurance scheme, and the Committee became the Medical Research Council. The original charter was passed in 1920 under King George V, and was amended after Queen Elizabeth’s accession to the throne. The current charter (pictured) dates from 2003.
Written by Brona McVittie