In the nineties the Science and Engineering Research Council was split into:
the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC);
the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC);
the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC);
the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC).
One of the primary drivers behind this was the vulnerability of the SERC to funding miss-haps from being exposed to exchange rate issues and uncontrollable cost over spends - a particular problem with astronomy and particle physics projects.
PPARC and CCLRC have been remerged to make the STFC (unaffectionately known as Swindon Town Football Club). The EPSRC and BBSRC depend heavily on the big labs now run by STFC. So now on top of the funding shortfall at the setup of STFC UK science is hostage once more to the problems of working on big international projects. Well done New Labour!