Oral Answers to Questions — Scientific Advisory Committee

– in the House of Commons on 1st October 1942.

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Photo of Mr Ivor Thomas Mr Ivor Thomas , Keighley

asked the Lord President of the Council who are the members of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the War Cabinet; what are the duties of this committee; and what are its relations with the newly appointed scientific advisers of the Ministry of Production?

Photo of Sir John Anderson Sir John Anderson , Combined Scottish Universities

The scientific members of the conamittee are: Sir Henry DalePresident of the Royal Society.The two Joint Secretaries of the Royal Society, one of whom is my hon. Friend the Junior Burgess of Cambridge University (Prof. A. V. Hill) and the other Professor A. C. G. Egerton.Sir Edward Appleton—Secretary of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.Sir Edward Mellanby—Secretary of the Medical Research Council.Dr. W. W. C. Topley—Secretary of the Agricultural Research Council.The functions of the committee are:

  1. (a) to advise the Government on any scientific problems referred to it;
  2. (b) to advise Government Department, when required, on the selection of individuals for particular lines of scientific inquiry or for membership of committees on which scientists are required;
  3. (c) to bring to the notice of the Government promising new scientific or technical developments which may be of importance to the war effort.
It was never intended that the committee should usurp the functions of the scientific and technical advisers of Departments, and the appointment of these three Scientific Advisers to the staff of a new Ministry of Production in no way affects the scope or the responsibilities of the committee. The committee will naturally consult with the Scientific Advisers to the Minister of Production upon matters which fall within their province.

Photo of Mr Ivor Thomas Mr Ivor Thomas , Keighley

Are questions being in fact referred to this body, and is it being fully used?

Photo of Sir John Anderson Sir John Anderson , Combined Scottish Universities

I have sometimes wished that Departments would make more use of the services of this committee. It has, in fact, been of great assistance to the Government as a whole and to Departments.

Photo of Mr Thomas Levy Mr Thomas Levy , Elland

What procedure is to be adopted in order that these eminent gentlemen can collect the information about which they are to make decisions?

Photo of Sir John Anderson Sir John Anderson , Combined Scottish Universities

That question relates to the functions of the Minister of Production, which is a separate matter.

Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon South

What is the difference between the functions of this new scientific body and the one announced the day before yesterday, as they seem to be completely overlapping?

Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon South

The one announced the day before yesterday is new.

Photo of Sir John Anderson Sir John Anderson , Combined Scottish Universities

I am not sure whether my hon. Friend is not referring to the advisers of the Ministry of Production. They are individuals appointed to advise a Department. Every Department whose work involves the use of scientific knowledge has always had its own staff of scientific advisers and has access as necessary to outside advice.

Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon South

As the Ministry of Production co-ordinates about six other Departments, each of which has its own scientific advisers, where are we?

Mr. De le Bère:

We are nowhere at all.