Social Sciences (Research Council)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th August 1961.

Alert me about debates like this

1.46 p.m.

Photo of Sir Austen Albu Sir Austen Albu , Edmonton

In rising to draw attention to the need for a social sciences research council, I should first declare my interest. I am married to a well-known social psychologist.

In the years since the war there has been an increasing interest in Parliament, as well as an increasing responsibility by the Government, in scientific research in all fields. Most of us regret that far too much of this research has been devoted to defence. Whether as a by-product of that or on account of the Government's increasing support of science for civil purposes, there have been great advances in our country, as in the rest of the world, in the physical sciences and in technology.

I think most of us would agree that, in spite of or perhaps because of this, there has been far too little money spent on what the poet Pope called: The proper study of mankind which is man. That study is the field of the social sciences. Here we start right away with a semantic difficulty, because some dislike the title for a number of reasons. That is partly because it is thought of as consisting only of sociology or, on the other hand, the sort of work done by departments which train social workers and do little or no research. So in this country there has grown up the use of the name "Human Sciences" because they cover the activities of individual men in learning and the use of skills as well as man's interactions with his fellows both economically and socially. The objection to this is that it could be taken to include other sciences such as biology which is rightly included in the medical sciences.

In the United States they call these studies by an equally unsatisfactory name, "Behavioural Sciences". Unsatisfactory as that title is, I intend to refer to these studies as social sciences. Whatever we call them, we mean studies concerned with man's behaviour both as an individual and in society, the institutions he builds, and the results of changes in those institutions on his behaviour. The sciences generally recognised as dealing with these problems include—in alphabetical order, so that there shall be no accusation of bias—anthropology, criminology, demography, economics, educational research, psychology and sociology. Some of these titles are not very satisfactory because they frequently overlap, both in their methods and in the areas of their studies, and each has a number of branches. Anthropology covers the study of primitive societies; social anthropology which deals with both primitive and modern societies; archaeology and anthropometrics, which consist of the study of man and his changes through the ages, as demonstrated by measurement of the parts of the body and the physiognomy. Sociology includes urban, rural and industrial; psychology includes clinical, educational, experimental, occupational and social.

In the many problems with which these sciences deal, often a number, these specialties must be employed together in combined research teams. It may be that these sciences have not so far developed many laws of a degree of precision capable of forecasting events as accurately as laws which have been developed in the natural sciences, but in recent years very great advances have been made in the methods of research in these sciences, perhaps particularly in the United States, where they are increasingly being used in administration and in assisting the determination of policy.

Even in this country there is a growing realisation of their value and to some extent, although I regret to say to far too little an extent, there is a growing realisation of it in the Government service. The Government have the Social Survey, started during the war as the War-time Social Survey, which has done a number of useful ad hoc jobs. These include consumer expenditure, the supply and use of scientific manpower, the organisation of hospital nursing work and so on.

The Service Departments use social science research in problems connected with selection and training, the problem of morale and the problem of leadership, for example. We have the newly-established research department, of quite reasonable size, in the Home Office which is starting to make a study of probationers. The Home Office also supports by grant other work; for instance, P.E.P. for the study of the social and human needs of the families of prisoners.

But I regret to say that most Departments use little or no social science research whatever. It was a most extraordinary thing that we introduced and passed through the House a major Act, the Mental Health Act, changing the whole of the administration of mental health in this country and of our mental hospitals, and with the intention of changing our whole attitude towards the treatment of mental illness and the communal attitudes towards it, without any research being conducted at all, particularly into the problem of the communal care of the mentally sick and the effect on their families of those who are discharged from mental hospitals.

A Department which one would have thought would conduct a great deal of social science research, the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, certainly employs social scientists but, as far as I know, does no research whatever, either for the very necessary purpose of town planning or for studying the relationship of families to housing and the housing problems which families have. These are problems which are very susceptible to the reesarch methods of the social scientist.

Perhaps most surprising of all is the fact that in the Ministry of Education practically no research is done at all. The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee recently submitted to the Minister of Science—the Parliamentary Secretary's noble Friend—a memorandum on this very important subject which points out that the total amount spent on empirical research on education in Great Britain is less than £125,000 annually, or about 0·014 per cent. of the annual expenditure on education. The Committee points out that most university research in education in this country is carried out part-time either by staff members or by students for higher degrees, the majority of whom are practising teachers will full-time jobs. There are only ten research fellowships throughout the country devoted to empirical research in education. Most of the research carried out by teachers and local education authorities is robbed of its principal value because it does not enjoy the advantage of skilled advice on such matters as experiment, design, test construction and statistical analysis. With the rapid expansion of education in this country, and particularly of the new forms and new institutions of higher education, the need for research is increasing.

In industry we have the growing problems of changing technology and the related problem of attitudes to work and of retraining people from jobs which are rendered obsolete. We have the whole problem of the relation between the industrial structure of a firm or its organisation and its technology.

It was interesting to read in the Dictator—I mean the Director; that was a slip, but perhaps it was not irrelevant to what I am about to say: it was interesting to read in the Director this month that Dr. V. L. Allen, Lecturer in Industrial Economics at Leeds University, recommended the setting up of an institute to study industrial behaviour. He says that relatively little useful research has been done on the subject, and he draws attention to the out-datedness of many negotiating procedures and industrial relation procedures in industry.

On race relations, a good deal of research has been done, and perhaps what is more needed than research is the application of it. Nevertheless, this is a field in which further research will be needed, and a field which is becoming increasingly important in this country. In economics the Government have been converted to the idea that planning might be of some value, but so far very little research has been done, as far as I know, on the techniques of planning, and much more is undoubtedly needed.

I think, therefore, that the time has come to reconsider the proposal for a social sciences research council or a human sciences research council which was last considered by the Clapham Committee in 1946. At that time, although they thought that the time was not ripe to set up such a body, they recognised the value of the work which was done by the social scientists. I quote from paragraph 3 of its Report: It is doubtful whether, even at the present day, the great practical value of knowledge in these various fields is generally appreciated. It is a platitude that modern industrial communities rest on a knowledge of the subject matter of the natural sciences. It should be also a platitude that their smooth running and balance rest upon a knowledge of the subject matter of the social sciences. More recently, in another place, Lord Adrian, himself a great natural scientist, supported the plea made by Lord Taylor for a social sciences research council. Over ten years ago Lord Adrian, speaking to the British Association, said, Social science can tell us dispassionately what is happening in our society.… With modern techniques of social fact-finding and measuring, social science may well be the most important scientific development of the century. That statement by a natural scientist is, I think, sufficient to convince the doubters of the value of the work which the social scientist does, but at present, such Government support as is given to the social sciences is very much divided. D.S.I.R. last year made seven grants totalling £40,000. It does a little work on its own at Warren Springs. The Medical Research Council has a number of units, for example the Applied Psychology Research Unit at Cambridge; and the Industrial Psychology Research Unit and the Unit for Experimental Investigation of Behaviour, both at University College, London.

But apart from the support given by the Home Office in criminology, as far as I know that is the only support given to the social sciences, and the amount in money involved is very small indeed. It is true that useful work is done by the Inter-Departmental Committee on Social and Economic Research, which was recommended by the Clapham Committee, but it has no funds and it is concerned only with stimulating research in the universities, ensuring that material in Government Departments is available for research workers and that there is adequate co-operation between Government Departments and the universities.

The argument used in the past against such a body was based on the relative scarcity of active research groups, but the new universities which are to be established, the growing interest of the colleges of advanced technology in the social sciences and the development of many other new institutions have changed all this. Among these institutions we now have the National Federation for Educational Research, the National Institute of Industrial Psychology, the Institute of Criminology at Cambridge, the Research Unit at the Institute of Education (London), the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations, the Institute of Community Studies and several others. These bodies exist, but most of them exist on a shoestring and they lack any co-ordination.

Research groups exist also in the universities and the Ministry of Education has encouraged staffs at technical colleges and teacher training colleges to engage in research, but they do not have the resources required for long-term research that is necessary in this field often by the study of very large samples. The members of these staffs moistly lack training in research methods, and here we are involved in a vicious circle, but the fact that the staffs lack training in research methods is not an argument for turning down the plea for a social sciences research council.

Without research grants it will not be possible to develop training in research methods. Such training is particularly necessary for the growing number of students who are now taking first degrees in such subjects as psychology and sociology. In order to be able to train in research methods, they need to take part in teams under senior research workers who receive adequate grants for the purpose. This is one of the things with which a social sciences research council would concern itself. Others include the support of research projects, the initiation of research, integration of the social sciences and the application of scientific thought and research to current problems. At the present time the social sciences are treated as peripheral interests of minor importance by D.S.I.R. and the Medical Research Council.

The other day, in reply to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Lanark (Mrs. Hart), the Parliamentary Secretary said that the Council of D.S.I.R. is reviewing the support given by the Council and the desirability of a separate body. Can the Parliamentary Secretary today give us any further news and say when he is likely to receive this Report and when he will make an announcement about it? Also could he say whether all the learned societies and institutions interested in the subject are being consulted?

I know that there are some, and probably particularly among us politicians, who fear that the social scientists are claiming to make the decisions that should be made by the policy-makers in accordance with their principles and their values. I do not think any social scientists have ever claimed that, nor is it their ambition. It is true that no social scientist, any more than any other human being, can be completely objective, but, as I say, it is not their purpose or ambition to take over the job of the policy-makers. All they hope to do is to increase our knowledge of human behaviour so as to enable us to take decisions which are based more on a real objective understanding of the facts of the situation and the likely effects of our actions, than on mere hunches. Most of the time this will be done by the study of actual situations, and the results can be of immediate assistance to those who have to make policy decisions.

One of the advantages of the establishment of a social sciences research council would be that it would encourage social scientists in the study of these problems of current policy and not to believe that the path to respectability lies through the ivory tower. I hope this afternoon that we shall hear something more encouraging from the Parliamentary Secretary than we have heard in the past. There is no doubt that with the increasing problems that our country is facing, we need a great deal more assistance in understanding what will be the likely effect of policy changes, of technical changes and of administrative action on people, and to this I have no doubt the social scientist can make a really valuable contribution.

2.4 p.m.

Photo of Mr Denzil Freeth Mr Denzil Freeth , Basingstoke

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu) for raising this subject today when we are able to spend more time on it than would be possible in a normal Adjournment debate. His hon. Friend the Member for Lanark (Mrs. Hart), who I know would have liked to have been present today, raised this subject in our debate on 10th July.

I regret that there was not time for me on that occasion to deal with this very wide subject.

The last time that there was a review of our national provision for social and economic research was, as the hon. Member himself said, in 1946 under the so-called Clapham Committee. This Committee was very scathing indeed about the volume of such research going on at that time and it expressed great concern at the small number of qualified research workers available. The hon. Member himself mentioned that one of the reasons why this Committee did not recommend the establishment of a social sciences research council was the fear that existing research workers might be turned into administrators.

The Clapham Committee suggested that what was needed in 1946 was more work at the universities. It felt that the establishment of a research council at that time might well hinder this, while the difficulty of choosing between competing programmes in the state of knowledge which was then available would have been a task of great difficulty. We should be grateful to the Clapham Committee because it had the effect of stimulating research into the social sciences. As a result of the Clapham Committee's Report, the University Grants Committee gave earmarked grants for the social sciences between 1947 and 1952 at a steadily increasing rate.

As a result, however, of a change in policy, the University Grants Committee stopped giving earmarked grants for these and other subjects after 1957. Of course, the Committee has general responsibilities for the development of the universities in accordance with the national interest, and we all agree that the national interest demands due importance being given to the social sciences.

Which studies should fall under this heading I do not think one can precisely define. The hon. Member gave his list in alphabetical order. The Clapham Committee thought that all would agree that the social and economic sciences—it covered both—should include anthropology, sociology and social psychology, political science, demography and social statistics as well as economics, economic history and economic statistics, which might well not be germane to our discussion today. The Committee also added that there were certain branches of medical statistics and law which were commonly considered to come into this field.

It will, therefore, be seen that my noble Friend has only a Departmental interest in some, and possibly not even in the majority, of these subjects. He is, however, responsible, as the hon. Gentleman said, for the grants which are given by the research councils in this field and I think I should, therefore, begin by giving the House some indication of the volume of work at present being carried on under their encouragement.

The Department of Scientific and Industrial Research gives grants and awards which at present total some £114,000. The figure of £40,000 to which the hon. Member referred covers grants to universities and colleges of advanced technology only. The Department has a special committee whose job it is to recommend such grants and awards at universities, technical colleges and research institutions, as well as to recommend work to be done by the research stations of the Department In addition, the Industrial Grants Committee of the Department has given a five-year grant to the National Institute of Industrial Psychology, depending upon the amount of money that the Institute itself is able to raise for this purpose. A list of the investigations which are supported by the Human Sciences Committee of the Department has been issued and I will be pleased to send any hon. Members who wish a copy of this list. As must be expected from the Committee's own terms of reference, all these awards have a relationship to industry.

However, they cover a wide field. For example, at the Birmingham College of Advanced Technology research is being financed into the social factors which affect relationships and individual performance in factories. The hon. Member mentioned industrial relations. In the university colleges at Durham there is research going on into worker-management relations in four north-eastern industries of differing techniques. At the Brunel College a subject studied is that of the subjective nature of judgments made in the inspection and quality con- trol of manufactured goods, which I am sure we all agree is vital for our export effort.

At Leicester University study is being undertaken into the problems raised by the employment of married women in hosiery factories, and at Oxford University research is going on into plant-operating skills in relation to automation. These examples—and they are, of course, only a few of the examples—show that a wide variety of research work is being financed by the D.S.I.R. into those aspects of sociology and psychology which affect the industrial population.

We must also, in this context, consider the dissemination of the results of this research. Conferences to interest industry in the results of this kind of social science research have included the Ergonomics Conference in September, 1960, of which the full proceedings have now been published, and a series of meetings has been organised to introduce these topics to the research associations. A series of small booklets has also been published to aid the practical application in industry of the results of D.S.I.R. research.

A considerable amount of research also takes place at the Department's own laboratories and costs about £60,000 a year. At Warren Springs research is concentrated on ergonomics, such as the design and use of key boards, as well as a study, in conjunction with Manchester University, of secondary modern school leavers.

At the Building Research Station studies are being made into the design and provision of flats for old people and into the design of offices and hospitals. The Road Research Laboratory is continually studying the personal characteristics of road users in relation to their behaviour on the road, such as the effect of alcohol on performance and of the age and experience of motor cyclists in relation to the accident rate. The National Physical Laboratory is also studying at least three aspects of social science research; namely, motor vehicle noise, the effect of the light in a room upon colour rendering, and readers for blind people.

In the research associations there are flourishing human science and ergonomic sections in the British Iron and Steel Research Association and the British Boot and Shoe and Allied Trades Research Association. I hope that other research associations will find it possible to do research in these fields.

Now I come to the Medical Research Council which is often thought to be mainly concerned with the cure of diseases. This is not true. It is equally, if not more, concerned with the prevention of disease and the maintenance of normal health and full human efficiency. Since its earliest days, the Council has regarded as being its concern research on psychology and environmental factors in relation to safety, and on the comfort and efficiency of workers in industry and other members of the population. The influences of social factors on health and sickness, on the physique and reproductive efficiency of women, on the occurrence, continuance and outcome of mental illness, as well as of climate and working conditions are all subjects of current research.

The hon. Gentleman the Member for Edmonton referred to research into the effects of domiciliary treatment on those suffering from mental illnesses and also on those who must live with them in their homes. I do not know if the hon. Gentleman is aware of Graylingwell Hospital in Chichester, in which the Medical Research Council's unit has a programme which includes the evaluation of a community mental health service to determine the social and clinical factors which favour the admission of patients to hospital and those which favour patients receiving treatment at home. The unit there is studying the effects on the family of caring for a mentally ill member. This year the Medical Research Council is spending about £250,000 in this field, both at its own research units and through grants for specialised research undertaken in the universities.

We now have the D.S.I.R. and the M.R.C. as the major grant-giving bodies. There is also, of course, the University Grants Committee although, as I have said, it does not now give earmarked grants for particular purposes. The amount of work in the social sciences must, therefore, depend to a large degree upon the importance which is attached to this work within the universities and the extent of their resources.

The position is also complicated because at very few universities are there first-degree courses in sociology as such, though, of course, many universities have courses in psychology and economics. In addition, these courses do not always agree upon the fields of study to be included. It is not easy, therefore, in many cases, to attract post-graduate students to remain at the university to pursue research.

There are many differences between the social sciences and the natural sciences, such as physics—where it can be stated that the solution of an advanced problem depends upon work already done. The raw material for the social sciences is human beings in society. The information has, therefore, to be collected not in a laboratory but among people at work and play.

Among the end-users of the research are, of course, industry and the medical profession, but they also include a large number of Government Departments. For instance, the Home Office spends a great deal of money in research into a wide variety of subjects, including criminology and penology, and if hon. Members would like to see a list of those researches which are supported by the Home Office, they will find them in the Written Answers given by the Minister of State at the Home Office to my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Iremonger) on 13th April this year.

Other Departments also finance studies which include those on perception and reaction to extreme environmental conditions and, in addition, grants are made by certain local education authorities. It is a vital thing for Government Departments dealing with human beings at work or play to be interested in the social sciences and also to commission research, the results of which the Departments need. How much of this should be done by centralised bodies and how much within the Departments concerned is a problem of great difficulty.

The hon. Member for Edmonton referred to the Social Survey of the Central Office of Information. This work, in general, has fallen so far into three main sections; firstly, inquiries on behalf of Government economists and statisticians with a special interest in economic development, secondly, inquiries into health and social problems, and thirdly, inquiries into the development of techniques for supplementing and completing existing official statistics in many fields and, in particular, for studying operational problems of public services. The operational expenditure, exclusive of staff costs, included in the Estimates for the C.O.I. in the current year is just under £129,000. One can see, if one looks at the investigations made by the Social Survey, that they cover a wide field and that the number of them has been increasing since the war.

In making this review of social sciences research at present being undertaken I certainly should not forget the considerable support which has been given by the major charitable foundations. These have, however, recently tended to direct an increasing proportion of their support in this field to work in under-developed countries and, therefore, I do not think that we can necessarily expect these foundations to play so large a part in contributing funds in the future as they have done in the past.

That leads me to the future. A considerable body of opinion has suggested—and, among others, the hon. Member for Edmonton and the hon. Member for Lanark—that we should have a social sciences research council, but I suggest that there are equally strong arguments that this is possibly not the ideal form of support that should be given at the present time. The work to be done is so varied, and the end-users so different in character, that the amount of work at present carried out at the universities does not appear to many people to be such as to make a research council the ideal solution.

I think, however, that we can all agree that we must have a much greater degree of study in the universities and the colleges of advanced technology. Some would argue that we need more undergraduate courses to lead to the first degree; others, that these sciences are essentially suitable for post-graduate work. I hope, therefore, that those interested in strengthening the study of social sciences in the universities and colleges of advanced technology will give evidence to the Committee which is at present sitting under the chairmanship of Lord Robbins. I am sure that the Committee's views on this subject will be most valuable, as they will be on other subjects that come under its survey.

Secondly, as I stated in answer to the hon. Lady the Member for Lanark on 18th July—an answer to which the hon. Member for Edmonton referred—the Council of the D.S.I.R. is reviewing the support given by the Department in this sphere, and is considering whether there is a need to alter the present organisation for giving these studies encouragement and support.

My noble Friend expects to receive the Council's views in the autumn, and I am sure that the House will agree that he must await its advice. I am authorised, however, by my noble Friend to emphasise to the House his very great interest in these sciences. He will certainly very carefully read the views expressed by the hon. Member for Edmonton, and those of any other hon. Members who may speak in the few minutes that will remain after I sit down.

Like the hon. Member, by noble Friend believes that more work should be done in the universities and elsewhere on these sciences. I can assure the House that he will continue to give these problems the study and attention which the continued interest of this House has shown that hon. Members think they deserve, and that his continuing study will be directed to the end of strengthening the social sciences in future.

2.25 p.m.

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

The Parliamentary Secretary's reply is much as I expected; that those responsible will look at this and praise what has been done, but will not at present commit themselves to establishing a research council. The hon. Gentleman will agree, I am sure, that my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu) is to be congratulated on initiating a debate on a subject that was rather obscured in the major science debate when my hon. Friend the Member for Lanark (Mrs. Hart) raised the matter.

I am very glad that my hon. Friend has raised this subject on an Adjournment debate, and that the Parliamentary Secretary has taken such care to give him a very considered reply. There is no party issue involved here, and I congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary on the care that he has given to his reply, and the detailed information he has given to the House.

I think that a research council ought to be created, and it may be that after their studies and their consideration of the information provided by the D.S.I.R., and after receiving the recommendations of the Robbins Committee, the Government will act. I detect a sympathy with my hon. Friend's point of view. I feel that the Minister himself is favourably inclined to the development of social science and its application, and that when the time comes he will probably look with favour on the creation of a council of the type proposed. In that sense, I hope that my hon. Friend will not be disappointed.

I agree with the Parliamentary Secretary that this is not an easy matter. My hon. Friend has certain affinities, and a certain bias, but I can speak only for myself. Even when I was a young graduate at Durham—and I am glad that Durham has been mentioned—taking my diploma in education, I thought how inexact ways the application of psychology to education. I still think that. I hope that in his anxiety to project sociology, my hon. Friend will not be too dogmatic. In the application of psychology to our educational system there is still a great variety of viewpoints. In the main field of psychology we cannot be doctrinaire, as my hon. Friend reminded me by his Freudian slip. When we think of Adler and Jung and the great giants who stride across the world of human thought, we can appreciate that we cannot possibly be dogmatic. In our desire to advocate social science there is always the danger of creating a mystique, and I often detect an unscientific approach in the enthusiasm of those who wish to push this too much.

On the other hand, I do not want to appear to discourage my hon. Friend. I think that we should have a social research council, and I was glad that he stressed the importance of the memorandum on educational research of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, of which he is a distinguished member, which has been submitted to the Minister. It is true, as my hon. Friend has said, that we are not spending enough on proper educational research. The sum of £125,000 which he quoted as being spent annually on empirical research is totally inadequate.

The Government themselves would benefit by research of this type. Some of the problems have not been mentioned, such as the effect of the 11-plus examination. We have never yet had a proper Government-sponsored study of that. I hold strong views about that examination. I believe it to be an anachronism —but it is there, and it should be carefully studied. The Ministry of Education should employ a sociologist to do some important work on this subject; instead, we have to rely on individuals, who have done considerable service.

Here is an opportunity, because this is a very important educational issue. It arouses antagonisms on both sides, and now and again we may have political arguments intruding into the field of education. Would it not be better to have a research organisation which, although relying on Government grants, would be relatively objective and independent?

I see that we have with us the hon. Member for one of the London constituencies, the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mr. G. Johnson Smith). I should like the Minister of Education to initiate a survey on the success or lack of success of the very fine experiment in London education—the comprehensive schools. Without arguing for or against them, I believe strongly in them. Because of that, I should like to see undertaken a proper survey of how these schools are fitting into the different London environments, such as Putney, where I now live, and that part of South-West London, and other areas. We should then discover how those schools are meeting educational needs, and how they are developing the abilities of each child. Whether or not the abilities and talents of a boy or girl who has failed the 11-plus examination are developed in this new environment is a matter of great importance.

In the end, Governments and Ministers must make decisions on objective advice. It will not be the advice of the politicians, although we may give advice; it will not be purely the advice of administrators in the Ministry of Education, because they are so often biased by the nature of the schools of thought to which they belong. In the end, the advice must be dependent on skilled objective surveys made by sociologists and social scientists, whose main object is to sift evidence and submit it to the appropriate authorities.

There is a wonderful opportunity in education for much more research and the collection of far more information. One of the strong arguments put forward by my hon. Friend is that even from the point of view of Government policy, even from the viewpoint of providing information which would determine the action of a Minister in deciding whether to encourage this type of education, organisation or structure, and whether to give advice to, say, the London County Council, all this is dependent in the end upon impartial surveys made by people who are trained to be impartial. That is the argument which has been put forward.

That is true also in other fields. I should like to see a careful survey of, for example, university education, embracing the place of students, the nature of the courses, whether university education is too long and whether we are wasting our abilities and our resources, not simply at Oxford and Cambridge, but at Durham, Bristol and all the other institutions of advanced education. After a proper social survey, we might find that we could speed up the existing processes and save valuable resources, not only financial, but also intellectual, which probably are being wasted by the existing structure.

I read an article the other day by my hon. Friend the Member for Bosworth (Mr. Wyatt), who did an extremely interesting piece in the Sunday Pictorial, or a good paper of that type for which he writes. He pointed out how we are wasting our effort in higher education.

During the war, the Government had to rethink this whole matter and the training of people for the Army. I am glad that reference has been made today to what the War Office did during the war. It is true that people had to be brought in to ensure that suitable methods were used for the training of men required for the forces. In the end, psychologists and social scientists were brought in.

In the Army, I always had a prejudice against psychologists. We called them "trick cyclists," and it may well be that they were, but in the medical field they did an important job in looking after men who had been affected by shell-shock and the like. Despite that, in the sphere of constructive government, where we need social surveys, where we need to examine the behaviour of groups of people and also to understand individual reactions, it is essential to have sociologists and the people who have been described today.

In that direction we might cover a wide range of activities which have been listed by my hon. Friend and by the Parliamentary Secretary, embracing anthropology, economics and different fields of sociology, demonology and the like. The time has come when the creation of a social research council might lead to stimulus which would enable the universities to push ahead. Inevitably, in a policy in that direction which encouraged social research, the universities would play the most important part. Therefore, we should consider both undergraduate and postgraduate training.

I am generally biased against providing sociology as such at an undergraduate level. It would be far better if students had interests in another faculty, either from the scientific or an arts viewpoint, taking a special course in sociology later in the postgraduate stage. I know that others disagree. Nevertheless, I would hope that a research council would encourage universities to speed up and develop more facilities for training, whether in the undergraduate or the postgraduate field. Whatever side we are on, we can only say that we want more research and more teaching in our universities, and we want it to be applied.

I assert once more my hope that the Government will come to the conclusion that we need this research council. The need has been stressed in an admirable article written by Lord Taylor in that excellent magazine the New Scientist, of 11th February, 1960. In a powerful argument, Lord Taylor quotes Lord Adrian, an extract from whose address has been quoted today. The article also quotes Lord Beveridge, describing him, as we all agree he is, as one of our greatest social scientists, who said in his Bowie memorial lecture: Social science is the field of knowledge on whose successful cultivation the future of human happiness depends. It is perhaps more important than any other thing that men could do today. He goes on to say: We might think of social science as 'science with the people brought in'. We can all accept that.

We need accurate field observation groups and group behaviour studies in a wide range of human activity in industry, covering the whole sphere mentioned by the Parliamentary Secretary. We need detailed socio-clinical studies and surveys like the Census, all of which help to improve our knowledge of human behaviour in society. If by increasing and improving this research we can in the end affect Government policies, we could all agree on the wisdom of this.

In other words, if we are to have wise government and proper Ministerial action backing up wise governmental policies, those policies in the end must inevitably be affected by the information which will be supplied to the Executive by the organisations which collect it. Therefore, all we are asking today is that the Government will encourage the creation of an army of sociologists working under a research council who will be able to supply detailed information which will enable the Government in the end to come to wise decisions on matters which often are non-political.