Orders of the Day — Science and Industry

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12 July 1962.

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3.55 p.m.

Photo of Mr Gilbert Mitchison Mr Gilbert Mitchison , Kettering

This is a debate on science and industry and we propose to cover quite a lot of ground. Indeed, I feel inclined to ask the Committee to have pity on me, so many are the works of science nowadays and so diverse the organisations concerned with them. Through this thicket of thorny bushes I propose to chase, if I can, the noble Lord the Minister for Science and the Parliamentary Secretary. They may hide in many places, but we have to discover what it is they are really here for.

The first question I wish to ask, a simple one, remains unanswered and is about the activities of the Minister for Science. What does he do? We have never discovered the answer. His physical birth was, no doubt, attended by many voluble fairies, while his Ministerial birth was a much quieter matter. By an Order in Council in 1959 there were transferred to him certain powers, somewhat undefined, which he had already under another name. So the Minister for Science came into existence. There were added to him one or two small matters which had been kept by the Prime Minister. One would expect, in these circumstances, to find in a Statute, in the Order, or somewhere else a clear statement of what his function was. I have been unable to find any such statement.

One of the noble Lord's activities, shared by the Parliamentary Secretary, is to make speeches up and down the country. There are four volumes of the noble Lord's speeches in the Library, most of them delivered on behalf of the Conservative Party or in some capacity connected with it. Among the comparatively few connected with this function as Minister for Science I have been able to find some which strenuously deny that he has various functions which might be attributed to him, but not one which tells us what his functions actually are.

This is a matter of real and considerable importance. We know that he is responsible for the research councils and that there is one field in which there is some definition of his activities—his control of the Atomic Energy Authority. But for the rest of it, what exactly does he do? I hope that we shall have an answer to that question in the course of the debate.

I may suggest several things which he might usefully do and which are not those things which so far he has denied any night or wish to do. He was appointed towards the end of 1959 as Minister for Science and there was already in existence, and there still is in existence, the largest of the research councils, that is, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, which was constituted under the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research Act, 1956. That Council seems to have very many of the powers which, whenever it says anything about them, the noble Lord and the Parliamentary Secretary say are their powers.

It is true that the noble Lord is empowered to give directions to the Council, but I can find no trace of his ever having given any direction to it or any other council. If they were given, I should like to know what they were and what the results were. It is this Council and not the Minister which, to quote the words of the Statute, is … charged with the organisation, development and encouragement of scientific and of industrial research and with the dissemination of the results of such research, and … may in particular—

  1. (a) encourage and support scientific research in universities, technical colleges and other institutions; and
  2. (b) establish or develop institutions or departments for investigation and research relating to the advancement of trade and industry; and
  3. (c) take steps to further the practical application of the results of scientific and of industrial research …".
These statutory duties are very wide and I have nothing but praise for the way in which the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research approaches its duties. Whether it moves quite fast enough is another matter, which I shall have to consider in a moment.

I come to what I suggest the noble Lord and the Parliamentary Secretary ought to do between them. I should be the first to admit that they have very little with which to do it. They appear to have a tiny budget and a tiny Department. The remarkable thing about the Department, as has been pointed out on more than one occasion, is that it does not contain a senior scientist. The higher-grade officers appeared in the former Estimates, but in the present abbreviated form of the Estimates not one is mentioned.

Although the numbers have been increased the main reason appears to be that 29 additional clerical staff, messengers and door-keepers have recently been added so that the double-decker bus in which the noble Lord claims to put his Department could now take his staff only if some of them stood. This is one of the noble Lord's favourite observations. It shows, I suppose, what pure thinking can do without outside assistance. Indeed, the noble Lord has treated us to eloquent and interesting speeches on the theoretical relations between Government and science, but when it comes to doing something about it I find it a little more difficult.

I think that I can take the noble Lord's own definition in another place on 9th November, 1960, of what he regards his own Ministry and the Government to be responsible for in this field. He said: It is to see that the country is adequately provided with a fully active scientific life on an adequate scale—that the gaps are filled and that the work is being done. It is not to do the work ourselves."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 9th November, 1960; Vol. 226, c. 418.] Of course, it is not to do the work themselves. Nobody supposes for one moment, with all respect to the two very distinguished gentlemen concerned, that they are capable of doing the work of all the scientists in the country, or even of all the research councils. But what does that definition amount to? I should have thought that it amounts to precisely nothing.

I turn from that to make suggestions as to what might be done and I make them broadly under three heads. First, there are scientific departments in a considerable number of Ministries and we tendered today the Votes of a number of Ministries as possible matter for discussion. We were told, in my humble opinion very rightly, that we could raise all we wanted to raise on this one Vote and we are doing so. But the list is incredibly long and I should have thought that the first of the Minister's duties, notwithstanding the extent of those departments, was to see that scientific advice was both sought and given on scientific questions which arise from day to day and also in the field of long-range policy.

About eighteen months before the Minister was appointed, a Committee, originally under the chairmanship of Sir Claude Gibb and afterwards under Sir Sally Zuckerman, was appointed to consider the management and control of research and development. The Committee reported in July last year. It is perhaps characteristic of a good deal of Government literature in this field that the Report was made on 5th July, but did not appear in the Vote Office until six months later, on 18th December. When it arrived it proved to be a very good Report. It dealt, though rather late, with the prevention of the kind of thing that had happened with Blue Streak. It was a Report to the Minister for Science.

The Committee will hardly need to be reminded that that was a project on which the Government wasted a very large sum of money before they decided to take it out of the Service field and translate it into civilian terms; in fact, use Blue Streak for purposes other than those for which it had been originally intended. The Report dealt both with the project and with the methods of dealing with its scientific aspects. "Scientific" is rightly used in a very wide sense when I say that, but in no wider sense than in the passage which I have read out of the remit of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. The question of how to deal with that project was also a matter which I should have thought ought to have been considered and which the Minister ought to have seen was considered properly.

The Zuckerman Report made a number of detailed recommendations. I shall not go into the question of defence today, or into that particular question, but this was a case where the Minister for Science, on any view of the matter, ought to have seen that a proper scientific control was exercised to avoid the waste which actually occurred.

I give another and very recent instance. The Minister of Health has recently had to answer Questions about a drug called thalidomide. This drug has had unforeseen and calamitous effects which have resulted in a considerable number of deformed births, a serious matter which, of course, the Committee will take very seriously. What steps were taken by the Minister for Science and the Medical Research Council, which, I suppose, is the appropriate body, to see that this drug did not come on to the market without proper scientific investigation? I know perfectly well that there was a scientific investigation, but it proved insufficient. Why did it prove insufficient, and why were sufficient steps not taken to prevent that sort of thing?

I can give a number of other instances in which the responsibility of one department after another for scientific work has broken down and in which it does not appear that the Minister for Science has taken any hand to see that sufficient precautions were taken to seek and to apply scientific advice.

I turn from that to a rather broader matter. It seems to me that the Minister's responsibility must also be to see to the money side, if I may put it in that way, and the organisation of scientific research in this country. I use those words widely. The noble Lord was appointed in October, 1959. It was not until long after that—I do not know the exact date, but I first heard of it in the spring of this year and the first public statement about it was made by the Parliamentary Secretary on 28th May— that a committee was appointed under the chairmanship of Sir Burke Trend, a high official of the Treasury, the terms of reference of which are exceedingly wide.

I take the second of them because it is, I think, the widest: To consider … what arrangements should be made for determining, with appropriate scientific advice, the relative importance in the national interest of the claims on the Exchequer for the promotion of civil scientific research in the various fields concerned"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th May, 1962; Vol. 660, c. 960.] That is exactly the question to which, I should have thought, the Minister for Science ought to have applied himself a long time ago and to which he ought to have sought an answer. Yet, two and a half years after his appointment as Minister and an even longer time after he had his functions as Lord President of the Council, it becomes necessary to appoint a committee to consider it. This is a very remarkable story.

What has the office of the Minister for Science been doing meanwhile? What steps has it taken to determine, "with appropriate scientific advice"—there is no doubt that it has that the relative importance in the national interest of the claims on the Exchequer for the promotion of civil scientific research"? This is a vital question, and it is not merely a matter of money. Money, no doubt, is the form it takes in that committee, but it involves questions of manpower and the use of national resources—everything which the expenditure of money on a large scale necessarily involves.

The question which that committee is considering is: how do we weigh the claims of incomparable sciences and incomparable skills? For instance, how do we determine how much is to go to biology, on the one hand, or to nuclear physics, on the other? What are the considerations which should guide us? If ever there was a political question, this seems to be it. It is somewhat remarkable that the committee should consist of two Second Secretaries of the Treasury, the Chairman of the University Grants Committee, the Chairman of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy, the Secretary of the Office of the Minister for Science, a professor in Edinburgh and a gentleman who is, presumably, an industrial scientist.

They are excellent people, and I have nothing to say against them. I am sure that they are very wise in their particular fields. But this is a political question, not a question which should be referred to a committee of that kind. Moreover, it is not a question which should be left standing for two and a half years before anything is done about it.

When I ask what the noble Lord and the Parliamentary Secretary have been doing, I have this sort of thing in mind. They have not tried to answer that question, apparently, because they quite recently set up a committee to answer it.

There are other questions; for instance, the question of space research. This arose a little time ago and was considered by the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy, which came to the conclusion, stated in two successive Reports, that expenditure in that field was too much for this country to undertake alone and that there ought to be an international effort. I do not complain about that. I am not discussing that sort of point. But that was a decision of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy. We have no idea what the Minister has to say about it, although, of course, the allocation of considerable resources was involved. At present, the position seems to be that we shall have an expenditure of about £4 million or £5 million a year over a period of five years to begin with as our contribution towards the international effort.

I do not say that that is the wrong way to do it. All I am saying is that this is a political decision, but it was made by the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy without, so far as I know, any direction or comment of any kind from the Government about it.

I come now to a subject where one can be a great deal more critical of what the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary have been doing. I mentioned just now the difficulty of, as it were, weighing the conflicting claims of different sciences and different skills. I have in my hand a Report from a body called the Ad Hoc Biological Research Committee which was set up by the Royal Society and presented its Report in November, 1961. The Report reaches some rather startling conclusions.

Hon. Members will not need to be reminded of the importance of biology. Recent advances in biology in all countries have been quite remarkable. They have changed the whole outlook of medicine and medical research bath in the direction of avoiding disease and in that of curing it, as in one way or another we all know. The Report says: Some general conclusions emerged from the work of the Committee. I shall not take them in detail. I take the second one: Biological research requires much more financial assistance. Not enough biologists are being trained even to meet current needs and facililties in many laboratories leave much to be desired. It is considered that at least twice as much money as is at present being spent is needed at once if the country is to exploit the current possibilities in biological research. The Committee goes on to make other comments. It says that it is not a matter of redistributing the funds at present available. It says that the need for biologists has been underestimated, that the Committee on Scientific Manpower of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy made a mistake in that matter, and so on.

This is a Committee of the Royal Society. It consists of very distinguished people. It is true that, in the necessity of things, most of them are biologists; but they certainly have a claim. I want to know who decides what weight a claim of this sort is to be given as opposed to other claims.

As I understand it, what happens is that, in one way or another, most of the innumerable agencies concerned go direct to the Treasury and they ask the Treasury how much they will be given. The Treasury tells them. I regard this as the wrong way of doing it. There must be a considered policy in the matter, and that policy must be the responsibility of the Minister for Science. He ought to be the person who, like other Ministers, is responsible for making demands on public funds, for weighing up the demands, and for presenting them more or less as a whole. Just as the Minister of Education, the Minister of Transport or any other Minister has his Vote and is a suppliant to the Treasury, so, in my view, nobody less central than the Minister for Science can possibly carry out these functions.

If he does not do it, what happens? The Treasury takes over. The Treasury sets up, with one of its own distinguished civil servants at its head, a committee to consider the broad question of policy in regard to science. What have we a Minister of Science for if it is all to be left to the Treasury? I do not know what the man is doing.

I come to the third question. I should have thought that we could describe the proper responsibility of the Minister in this way: to see that scientific work is not only done, but fructifies. I regard it as a kind of river that starts with pure science. It is watered on its way down with work done by way of applied science; watered again, by work done by way of development and, in the long run, flows into the pool of our common knowledge and plays its part in improving the standard of life and the possibilities of life for our fellow citizens. That is, I think, the object of it.

It is perfectly true—I admit it at once —that that can be put more widely and one could say that this is only the national side of it and that particularly, in a matter of this sort, we must look at the advance of the world and not merely at the advance of our own country. But surely the functions of science nowadays are of fundamental importance, whether we look at it as a matter of national rivalry or regard it as a question of the advance of the human race.

I sometimes feel that the Government look at science as a collection of rose bushes on which blossoms appear from time to time. There are passages in their speeches about encouraging the bright boy. It is really almost the only thing that we can get out of them as a principle. I am all for encouraging the bright boy; but science is not a collection of rose bushes. It is a kind of manure that we put into the ground that makes things grow, and, if we do not do it, things do not grow. If production in this country is falling behind in comparison with other countries, then the lack of development of scientific work and its application is one of the causes. I regard it as a very important one. Opinions may differ about that.

The Federation of British Industries, curiously enough, thinks that is less important, but on this matter I do not think that I should accept its judgment. I do not think that the Federation is qualified to make it. I think that on any view of the matter we are getting rather behind. It is, I would say at once, exceedingly difficult to make comparisons with other countries. Their arrangements are different. Their qualifications, universities and institutions, and so on, are different, and one can produce figures which appear to be conclusive but which are really nothing of the sort.

The Advisory Committee on Scientific Policy has tried to consider all this, and the only result it got was a comparison between this country and the United States. What it got out of that comparison was, broadly speaking, that the total proportion of the gross national product was much the same, but in the United States rather less of it is contributed by the Government and rather more by industry. It was a somewhat negative result. I am not at all certain that it was a sufficient result; that is to say, I am not sure that it asked itself enough questions.

One of them is this. I know that it is almost commonplace, trite, a bit of a platitude, to say in a debate about science, or any other debate, that we have few natural resources and that the most important of our acquired resources is the individual skill on which we have always prided ourselves—the skill which extends from the skilled workman to the skilled professor. I hold and believe that to be true. I think that it is exceedingly important that we should not merely be level with the world in matters of this sort, but ahead of it, because in other ways we have not so much to rely on and our material resources are comparatively small.

We are also a much smaller country than the United States and, therefore, I should have thought that since the units tend to be smaller and, therefore, the spread of a great deal of scientific work tends to be more limited, we should be well ahead of them rather than level with them in a matter of this sort.

The United States is, of course, a far larger and wealthier country than this and a given percentage of its national resources is a far larger figure than ours. When we are dealing with a limited number of people, such as scientists, particularly skilled scientists, the fact that the total is so much greater in their case has its practical effects. We get this story of physicists, for instance. We had some figures from the Institute of Physics and the Physical Society the other day about scientists going to the United States, not because they get better pay but because they get better resources for their work there, and that is going on.

We get another side to it. We get in this country very considerable contributions, hardly ever mentioned by the Government, from American sources. The scientists nowadays working in a university tries to get what he can from the Government and what he can perhaps from industry or from some similar foundation in this country, and he tries also to get it from the United States. We have never had any figures about these contributions. I do not complain of it; all the better. But what it does show is that the Government's contribution is not sufficient.

I have other grounds for saying that. There appeared in the National Institute Economic Review for May an article which did not altogether please the Parliamentary Secretary when he was asked about it. I am not surprised. The article was a very detailed one and it summarised its main conclusions at the top of page 27: … that British industry's research activity is very much less than American industry's on the more meaningful bases of comparison …". This is a question of comparison between industries.

I recognise, of course, that there are other fields and that some of their conclusions were that American industry's research expenditure is over five times as large as British industry's as an absolute figure. That is what one would expect. But it is also Nearly three times as large per employee and twice as large as a percentage of net output. Taking the 350 largest firms in each country which do research, the average large American firm spends five times as much as the average large British one. If these are the figures, then on the question of scientific research in industry—

Photo of Sir Henry Legge-Bourke Sir Henry Legge-Bourke , Isle of Ely

I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman will complete the quotation by addling another conclusion which is come to, namely, that the research per unit of output is about the same in the two countries.

Photo of Mr Gilbert Mitchison Mr Gilbert Mitchison , Kettering

That may very well be, but it does not really satisfy me in this matter. We have to deal with smaller units of production and we ought to have more research. The comparison that it works out evenly per unit of output seems to me to be really inappropriate. I would prefer the conclusion drawn by the writer of the article. The main conclusion is that "British industry's research activity is very much less than American industry's on the more meaningful bases of comparison." I think that is right. On a matter of this sort I would prefer the author's own summary to any that we may give. Perhaps I should not even have given the ones which I gave, but should have contented myself with the general conclusion.

I now come to the Government's contributions. Here I wish to make a very strong protest. One of the important channels of contribution in this respect is university research work. We have it on the authority of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy that in universities the proportion of money spent on research and the proportion spent on education are roughly the same; it is half and half. Presumably this refers to the scientific part. Therefore, research expenditure in universities is a very considerable sum.

This expenditure is administered through the University Grants Committee. I know perfectly well that that Committee has done excellent work in the matter. It has not sought to tie universities or those who work in universities to particular projects. It has given sums of money without too many strings attached. Its work, obviously, has been done with great tact and care. I have not had the pleasure óf meeting any of its members, and I have no objection to it at all.

When the Government are asked what the University Grants Committee has asked for by way of grants, the answer is, "We, the Government, like so many other Governments, refuse to say. This body is our adviser and our dependant in some form". I tell the Committee outright that I have been given the figures. I believe them to be correct, but I cannot quote them here. I have been told in confidence what the universities asked for from the University Grants Committee, what the Committee asked for from the Government, and what the Government finally "coughed up". Why should not we be given this information? If it has not been given before, is it not high time to reconsider the matter?

I understand that this is the first time that the University Grants Committee, representing the universities in this matter, has asked for a sum considerably larger than the one which the Government finally gave it. This is a matter of the greatest public importance. Why are these figures refused? They have been refused both in the House of Commons and in another place on the narrow and, as I see it, mistaken ground to which I have referred. Surely we should be able to judge the Government's expenditure in this matter, the attitude which they taken and the reality of their protestations of affection and devotion to scientific work. This is a very good test, yet we are denied the opportunity to make it. This is not the only case. I feel that the whole machinery about science has far too many elements in it which are directed to concealing what has happened and which should, in the national interest, be published and made known.

I now turn to industry. The last Report of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research was almost entirely concerned with what is commonly called "the gap between research and development"—that is, the application by industry of the results of scientific research. In April this year, the same Department organised a conference on the gap between research results and their industrial application, a very important and vital point which we must consider today, since surely, if anything is to prevail, it must be the national interest and nothing else.

I asked for the Report and was sent it. I was told that it was confidential, and I do not propose to refer to it beyond the very general words which I shall use in a moment. I do not think that I can refer to it, but I think that I ought to be able to do so, and I think that hon. Members should know about this sort of thing. This was a gathering of directors of research associations. They were told that they could say what they liked and that it would not be published. I object to their being told that. Why were they told it? They were assembled to give their opinions on a matter of real national importance. Directors of research associations do not keep hundreds of trade secrets.

Photo of Sir Henry Legge-Bourke Sir Henry Legge-Bourke , Isle of Ely

Before the hon. and learned Gentleman goes much further, I hope that he will consider the damage which he could do if he suggested that the directors of research associations should never meet together in private to discuss matters of national importance. He must realise that there must be good faith about this. Patents are very often wrapped up in this matter and companies subscribing to research associations are under some obligation to their shareholders. The hon. and learned Gentleman must not ask for these sorts of meetings always to take place in public.

Photo of Mr Gilbert Mitchison Mr Gilbert Mitchison , Kettering

This was a conference convened by a public Department, the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, in the exercise of its statutory functions to deal with a question which I regard as of the very highest national importance. I am sure that the hon. Member would agree about that. I do not propose to read out the comments of the directors on this, that and the other, but I say that no conference of this sort should be convened with a promise from the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research that none of the results would be published.

Photo of Mr Denzil Freeth Mr Denzil Freeth , Basingstoke

Probably we can clear up this point. This was almost an internal D.S.I.R. conference, although the directors of the research associations are not paid directly by the Department. It was felt that, if we were to have a full and frank discussion without fear of any section of anyone's speech being quoted out of context, perhaps leading to difficulties, and that if we were to have a really hard-hitting conference going into this subject, then it was fairest and best to say that the whole thing would be off the record and would not be quoted. May I say as one who attended part of that conference that I think that it was very well worth while.

Photo of Mr Gilbert Mitchison Mr Gilbert Mitchison , Kettering

I do not, and let me tell the hon. Gentleman why. This was not a private matter. It was mentioned in the Report of the Research Council and it was mentioned as one of a series of exchanges of view between representatives of Government and industry on either general policy or subjects of topical interest. I should have thought that this was obviously general policy. I do not share the hon. Gentleman's view that either he or his Department is entitled to say to these gentlemen, "You can say what you like. On no account will we publish it." I do not think that that should be said. If it is said that we cannot get information out of industrialists and research associations except by saying this to them, then the Government must take power to get it.

Photo of Mr Denzil Freeth Mr Denzil Freeth , Basingstoke

Surely the hon. and learned Gentleman's strictures would be valid only if such people were precluded from making the same remarks outside a conference if they wished their remarks to have publicity?

Photo of Mr Gilbert Mitchison Mr Gilbert Mitchison , Kettering

It is not a question of what these no doubt distinguished gentlemen wish. This is a matter of vital national interest. Here we have a group of people, who, incidentally, are receiving public funds in most cases, conferring with representatives of the Government and they are told, "This will not be published". They should not be told that. If their views cannot be obtained in any other way, the Government must take power to get them and publish them.

Exactly the same thing happened with the machine tool industry. There was an investigation into that industry which was not published, again because of a pledge of confidence. These pledges should not be given. With all respect to the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke), the national interest must overrule the interests of shareholders in these matters. We as a country and as a part of the world must ensure that there is no gap, or as small a gap as we can conceivably make it, between research results and their industrial application.

We are entitled as the Parliament of the country to consider what is being done to shorten or to eliminate that gap. It is a matter of the highest public concern. When we get to questions of that sort I do not think that it is right for the Government to give pledges of confidence, any more than I think it is right for them to refuse to publish the demands of the universities and the University Grants Committee. There is a great deal too much hush-hush about this. It does not do any good in the long run, and, as the noble Lord himself pointed out in another place, it makes people incredibly suspicious about what is going on. If the results are not published they usually begin to leak and we get all sorts of wrong versions.

It is very much better that on a matter of public policy the public should be entitled to know the facts, and, when there are relevant opinions, to know the opinions; and that right, in my opinion, overrides questions of private advantage or private convenience. It is really intolerable that on a matter of public importance, and of this public importance, we should be told that nothing can be said because a pledge of confidence has been given.

I think that it is fair to add at the end of all this that I have read the report. Perhaps there is not as much in it as all that, but the subject was exceedingly important, and that is the point.

I turn from that to mention one or two other things, though I must not take the time of the Committee much longer. I should like, first, to say a word or two about the research organisations themselves. This is a very small field at present—a very, very small field. The Government's expenditure on civilian research which probably amounts to about £100 million altogether ought to be made beyond the heads of that. Let me correct this. It is that sort of figure. It is only something between £1 million and £2 million which comes out of public contributions to the research associations. So the total expenditure of the research associations—I think that there are 52 of them—is about £8 million on the last figures.

That is a very small effort, and I have no doubt that further steps ought to be taken. I am very glad to see that the Council of Industrial and Scientific Research is taking some of these steps. Why I feel hesitant about it—and here I find my opinion shared by others—is because of the pace and the extent of the steps which are being taken. It really ought to go faster about the development projects which it is handing over to industry at present, and ought to go faster in the direction of advertising and pushing the advantages of the results of scientific research. Where it is necessary to amalgamate some of these units together, steps should be taken to do it. It has already been done in one case which will be present in the mind of the Parliamentary Secretary. I have very little quarrel with what the Council is trying to do, except about the speed and the extent of it, which seem to me to be insufficient.

That is the only comment which I want to make on industrial research. I feel that, on the one hand, I have taken a great deal of time and that, on the other, I have not said half the things I wanted to say. I have not covered half the ground I wanted to. I have tried to show one line upon which one could really debate the matter, and the line does seem to me 4o be the proper relation between the Government and industry and science, particularly, perhaps, between the Government and science. I have given instances, but I have not mentioned atomic energy; others, no doubt, will.

The broad question seems to me to be: what is the policy of the Government about science? Do they really care about it? Are they content to leave it to advisory councils to report to them? Are they content to leave it to Treasury committees? Are they content to leave the whole matter of the extent and degree of support from public funds to a Department whose proper business it is to control that extent? Are they, in fact, concerned to do anything in particular about the whole question?

I repeat what I said at the beginning, and I say it with the deepest conviction. This is not merely a question of industrial advance. It is something which concerns far more than that. It concerns, of course, the health and the life of the people from the point of view of biologists and doctors. It concerns our natural resources. There is another committee on that matter. It is something which affects the whole country.

My conclusion, when looking at the total of the figures, is that this effort which is being made does not appear to me to be sufficient, and I cannot help feeling that those who complain that biology, for instance, at present gets insufficient support are saying something which matters profoundly to the future of the British people and of this country of ours. Science is something which has grown, and assumed a different shape, in the years which I have been alive. It can fairly be said now to approach the sum of knowledge. With certain exceptions, one can say that matters of art are matters of beauty or of judgment, but this is the whole relation between man and his environment.

This is the possibility which man has of advance. This is, or should be, the use which he will make of that possibility. Nothing could concern us more. Yet our policy appears to be vague, our knowledge very insufficient, the confusion considerable, and the cash rather short.

4.36 p.m.

Photo of Mr Denzil Freeth Mr Denzil Freeth , Basingstoke

I am very glad that we should have this opportunity today to discuss industry and the Government. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) spent the majority of his time on science and the Government and very little upon industry. I shall have my proportions slightly reversed, because I do very much want to say some things about industrial research and the role of the Government. As I understand that the Scottish Grand Committee is likely to have a debate on research and industry in its purely Scottish aspect before we rise for the Recess, I shall, like the hon. and learned Gentleman, deal with the United Kingdom as a whole.

Photo of Mr Denzil Freeth Mr Denzil Freeth , Basingstoke

Which includes Scotland, yes, but which includes other countries as well.

The hon. and learned Gentleman criticised by noble Friend's office and its complementary federal structure of research councils. He seemed to think it was rather wrong that my noble Friend did not issue a large number of directives to the research councils. I think that I should have taken the issue of a large number of directives to the research councils as a sign of failure, as a sign that in fact the Government and science were at loggerheads, and not that they were working harmoniously together, and I think it is a very good thing that my noble Friend has not had to issue statutory directions under the Act to the D.S.I.R.

Quite frankly, I was not impressed by the various criticisms which the hon. and learned Gentleman made and which echoed those produced by Crossbow in its current issue. As a founder officer of the Bow Group, I feel that I can mention its journal.

Photo of Mr Gilbert Mitchison Mr Gilbert Mitchison , Kettering

May I say that they echoed even more closely some comments in an article in the new isue of the New Scientist?

Photo of Mr Denzil Freeth Mr Denzil Freeth , Basingstoke

I have them by me and I may refer to them as well.

It is perfectly true that my noble Friend's office is small. It is reinforced for all practical purposes—and this is something which I think the hon. and learned Gentleman forgets—by the 1,000-odd members of the headquarters staffs of the research councils and of the Atomic Energy Authority, many of whom have important scientific qualifications. I myself see no advantage in destroying the present structure, which has grown up gradually over the past forty years, with forty years' of cumulative experience behind it. It is in fact the model and admiration of many another country's Governmental-scientific organisation. The demand that my noble Friend should control scientists in the sense of bossing them about would result in destroying their confidence in Government and losing their co-operation. Unless we are to have scientists administered, in so far as one can use that word, by research councils, how can we avoid the inevitable difficulty of preventing politicians from bossing scientists about?

Photo of Mr Gilbert Mitchison Mr Gilbert Mitchison , Kettering

I hope that the hon. Member will not attribute to me any more things which I did not say. I asked him one question—what does he do? I hope that he will answer that.

Photo of Mr Denzil Freeth Mr Denzil Freeth , Basingstoke

I am trying to suggest that the hon. and learned Member is barking up the wrong tree—I do not know whether it is one of his rose trees—by suggesting that we should have a Minister for Science to control science in the same way as one controls administrators in a normal Government office.

The hon. and learned Gentleman said that my noble Friend's duty was to see that scientific advice was properly taken in the decisions which Governments make. I accept this. But I do not think that it necessarily follows that this is not happening because one does not read it in the newspapers or because it is not specifically mentioned by my right hon. Friend every time a decision is taken.

Secondly, the hon. and learned Gentleman does not understand the relationship between the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy and my noble Friend. He quoted the views expressed by the Advisory Council over the forms which Britain's space research activity should take. It is right that my noble Friend should ask the Advisory Council for its views, for its members are his main advisers on general scientific policy. But the decision whether this country should have a space research programme, and the form that it should take, and its size, is a decision which has to be taken by the Government and they, not the Advisory Council, take the responsibility.

Then we have the difficulty over dividing the money between the various research councils or various disciplines for research. I think that the hon. and learned Gentleman assumes that my noble Friend does not take any interest in any financial negotiations which may go on between the research councils and his colleagues at the Treasury. In fact, my noble Friend is immensely interested in negotiations which go on. But, in the last resort, when we come to the problem of deciding which project to support, there are two principles involved. The first is the principle to which the hon. and learned Gentleman referred as the bright-boy principle—in other words, that the only way to make certain that your standards are high and that you have economy in a way in which economy is possible, practicable, reasonable and acceptable is to support the bright boy with the first-class ideas. My suggestion is that it is my noble Friend's job to see that people with first-class ideas get the support which they should have.

Of course, science today is not merely a question of supporting people in small laboratories and paying their salaries. We are in an age of big science with very large machines. These use national resources not only of scientists and of engineers but of material, such as in the electronics industry. It is because my noble Friend and the Government felt that it was time that we should have a fresh look at the whole question that the Committee under the chairmanship of Sir Burke Trend was set up.

The hon. and learned Gentleman also referred to the Zuckerman Committee and complained that he had had no statement upon the subject. All the bodies for which my noble Friend is responsible and the civil departments which under-take or use research on a considerable scale have now considered the report. The Report in general has been accepted and is being applied by all these authorities. There are, of course, wide differences of circumstance between different research stations and laboratories, and some discretion must be given to directors to modify their practice in accordance with local conditions. But, in general, the Report has been accepted as laying down a standard of practice which should be observed where it is not already in operation.

The main exception is that not all authorities agree that what the Report defines as "pure basic" research should be undertaken in Government stations only in special circumstances. In particular, the Medical Research Council hold strong views on this point. My noble Friend considers that the distinction between "pure basic" and "objective basic" research, while clear in intention, is not easy to define precisely in individual cases, and that research councils must have a considerable degree of discretion to undertake basic research of any kind which is relevant to the field of research for which they are responsible.

Photo of Mr Gilbert Mitchison Mr Gilbert Mitchison , Kettering

Would the hon. Member or his hon. Friend who is to speak later tell us whether the Government accept the recommendations that everything possible should be done to encourage interchange between posts in the scientific officer class and in the other Civil Service classes, in particular the administrative class?

Photo of Mr Denzil Freeth Mr Denzil Freeth , Basingstoke

My hon. Friend the Financial Secretary will deal with that point, among others.

I should like to turn from the general concept of the office of the Minister for Science to science in industry and the rôle of the office and the department in this concept. I believe that this is one of the most vital questions which face us today. I believe that industrial growth, together with a rising standard of living, can be achieved only if we can increase output per man and increase that output at competitive prices. It is mainly by the application of science to production, by which I mean the discovery of fresh knowledge about materials and processes, and the application of existing knowldege to existing industrial problems, that we can provide a basis for real and non-inflationary expansion.

Some industries are what we call science-based. These already spend a considerable amount of money on research and development, and I believe that their record shows that science pays. Whereas production in manufacturing industry as a whole increased by less than 50 per cent, in the 1950's, production in chemicals, electrical engineering and aircraft and vehicles nearly doubled. The effect of this can be seen, too, in the structure of this foreign trade, where goods with a high technological content play an increasingly important part in the export drive. In 1938, goods falling into the categories of chemicals and petroleum products, mechanical and electrical engineering and other manufactures of metals, scientific instruments and aircraft and vehicles, accounted for about one-third of British exports. By 1950 they accounted for about half and by 1960 for nearly two-thirds.

But the rôle of science in industry—and this I should like to make plain—does not depend merely upon producing a product which is the result of fresh discoveries in the scientific field. Science can be used by even the most traditional industry in this country. But it will be used only if those who direct industry themselves have minds open to scientific ideas and scientific methods. Today none of us can have cobwebs in our mental attics. The scientific approach is also needed in management. I admit that management is possibly as much an art as it is a science, but there is a lot of science knocking at the door of management today. For example, there is a scientific way of getting information about the changing attitudes and conditions of work and morale. There is a scientific way of assessing the effects of incentives upon workers and their motivations. There is operational research, born in the last war, and still very young, but it is bringing science into management.

Of course, operational research is difficult to define. I am told that there are no fewer than 19 officially recognised definitions. It is said that at one time the work of defining operational research was to be the subject for a Ph.D. thesis for one of the Continental universities. But it can teach management how to plan scientifically the level of stocks which should be held, the layout of a factory or office, and even the maximum profitability which can be obtained from a farm. The Industrial Operations Unit of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research has even given advice on how a burial ground can be operated more efficiently.

In 1958–59, according to the Report of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy, our national expenditure on Research and Development was about £478 million. Two-thirds of this was spent by the Government, either through Government-financed institutions or through contracts with private firms. Industry spent about £270 million, of which some £150 million was derived from Government sources. We are now reviewing again our national resources and the next triennial review is in progress.

Photo of Mr Gilbert Mitchison Mr Gilbert Mitchison , Kettering

Since what we are discussing today is civilian research, can the hon. Gentleman give the figures for that, excluding defence?

Photo of Mr Denzil Freeth Mr Denzil Freeth , Basingstoke

I cannot give any figures in advance of the Report of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy, from which I took these figures.

That leads to the question of the role of the Government in civil science in industry.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

Since the hon. Gentleman has given the figures, will he say how much of them relates to defence? I understand that it is more than half.

Photo of Mr Denzil Freeth Mr Denzil Freeth , Basingstoke

If the right hon. Gentleman refers to the Report of the Advisory Council, he will see the breakdown fairly accurately stated.

We have to create the conditions in which industry can increase its scientific activities. This means, first, producing from the educational system a sufficient supply of well-educated scientists, technologists and technicians. We shall need not only the increasing number of scientists to which the Committee on Scientific Manpower referred, but we shall also need a large number of technicians.

I wonder whether it is wise in the modern State for us to have a situation in which more than half of our technicians have no nationally-recognised qualification. The qualified and skilled technician is a key man or key woman in industry. My noble Friend has therefore asked the same Committee to undertake an inquiry to see exactly what we have today in the way of technicians, what we shall need and what we look like getting. We also need to modernise our methods of producing these people.

Can we afford a system of apprenticeship under which many a youth gets no systematic instruction but will none the less be called skilled after five years, with no other test than that of his endurance in having gone through that period? Leaving on one side the inevitable delays between courses of training which occur in Service life, I have worked it out that it took me less than twelve months' instruction to get my wings as a pilot during the war. Does it really need five years to make a bricklayer, a carpenter or a fitter? We need more of all these people.

Of course, most boys start apprenticeship between the ages of 15 and 16 and it would be unscientific to leave that out of account. Nevertheless, the teaching of a skill quickly by modern methods of training and then the application of that skill is probably one of the least used techniques in industry. It is probably also one of the most needed.

Photo of Sir Austen Albu Sir Austen Albu , Edmonton

I am not sure what the bon. Gentleman is talking about. He said that there would be another inquiry into the training of technicians. He is now talking about the training of craftsmen. Is the inquiry to consider the training of craftsmen as well as of technicians?

Photo of Mr Denzil Freeth Mr Denzil Freeth , Basingstoke

It is primarily the training of technicians. The question of craftsmen is being considered.

Photo of Sir Austen Albu Sir Austen Albu , Edmonton

Does that mean that responsibility for the supervision of apprenticeships and conditions, and so on, has been taken from the Ministry of Labour and given to another Department?

Photo of Mr Denzil Freeth Mr Denzil Freeth , Basingstoke

No. It is the responsibility of my noble Friend to ask for and to take advice from the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy. One of that Council's committees is the Scientific Manpower Committee. With the agreement of his colleagues in the Government, my noble Friend has asked that Committee to undertake the same exercise in relation to technicians as it undertook in relation to scientific qualified manpower.

Photo of Sir Austen Albu Sir Austen Albu , Edmonton

But not of craftsmen?

Photo of Mr Denzil Freeth Mr Denzil Freeth , Basingstoke

The question is being considered. As yet, however, the Committee has not been asked to undertake it.

In the second field, to do with the type of education, at the instance of my noble Friend the D.S.I.R. has recently set up a Committee under the chairmanship of Mr. G. B. R. Feilden, F.R.S., a member of the Research Council, with the following terms of reference: (1) to consider the present standing of mechanical engineering design in relation to the United Kingdom engineering industry and practice overseas; and(2) to recommend any changes which are likely to result in improved engineering design of British products, including, in particular, changes in education and training. Thirdly, we must promote the growth of fundamental knowledge in our universities and other institutions. Finally, we must help industry to exploit the fruits of scientific knowledge. I say "help industry" because it will be mainly the task of industry itself, who knows what its own problem are, to engage in the application of science and in the research which is relevant to its own field of work.

I accept that the Government should do much to help, and, indeed, they do. The results of the expensive research undertaken far defence and other Government services is often of value to civil industry. The Atomic Energy Authority's civil programme is exploring a very new and difficult field of technology where the objective is of general national interest. But the Atomic Energy Authority's main function is to carry this research and development to the point at which utilisation on a commercial scale is feasible, and then to transfer further exploitation to industry and the generating boards. Atomic energy is a special case where a major civil development in a new field is beyond the resources of industry.

Leaving aside rare cases of this kind, there is the question of how the Government should assist private industry, subject to the general principle that research and development is properly the responsibility of industry itself. Here, the Government's main instrument is the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, which has, broadly, two lines of approach to the problem.

The first is to encourage and assist research associations set up by individual industries for co-operative research. Such organisations should be increasingly financed by industry as they develop. The part of the D.S.I.R. is to encourage their formation and to assist with a financial grant. The second is to undertake in Government stations research into scientific problems which are selected for their relevance to the long-term needs of industry. The D.S.I.R. is also responsible for giving research grants to universities, some of which are for work which is of economic promise. The expenditure on grants of all kinds by the Department and in its own laboratories was about £10 million in 1958–59. This year, it will be £20 million, an increase of 100 per cent.

But the value of the sum spent is out of all proportion to the figures. I have now visited all the fifteen laboratories of the Department and I have a high opinion of their work. These will cost this year, together with the National Lending Library for Science and Technology, about £9½ million. They give direct benefit to industry. For example, the Forest Products Research Laboratory introduced a new method of kiln seasoning of timber, thereby shortening the seasoning period from five years to one year. The consequent saving of working capital to industry has been estimated to be of the order of £40 million. The same is true of the National Engineering Laboratory and a number of other laboratories.

Of the research associations, it is possible to quote a number in which direct benefit to industry has been given. I admit that some of them are still far too small. At the instigation of my noble Friend, a thorough review of the research associations and methods of Government help is being undertaken. A report of the Industrial Grants Committee of the Council on this subject will be published shortly.

Today the research association movement is definitely a paying concern. Dr. Hill, the director of the Shirley Institute and Chairman of the Committee of Directors of Research Associations suggested in a recent paper that industry each year got a return worth £100 million for the £8 million which the research associations spend. I do not want either to confirm or deny this figure, but I am certain that the benefit is immense. To take merely one example, as time is getting on, there is the case of a furniture manufacturer who is now saving £17,000 a year and marketing a better product as a result of new construction methods pioneered by the Furniture Industry Research Association.

Certainly today we are trying to have the greatest degree of flexibility in the research association movement. In addition to the basic subscriptions, many of which are, I think, far too small, industry can increase the pace of research in which it is particularly interested by paying special contributions for this purpose. A number of research associations undertake sponsored confidential research on an economic basis, and I hope that this trend will continue to increase.

Some are most earnestly considering the position and what will happen if we join the Common Market. Some already admit European firms as associate members. The day of full membership may well not be far off. The Felt Research Association is considering changing its whole character in order to become, in collaboration with European firms, a European centre for research for the felt and hat industry.

The job of Government in trying to help industry must be particularly directed at that area where industry is not conducting a great deal of research itself. It has been suggested that this would be helped if more generous tax allowances were given. My hon. Friend the Financial Secretary dealt with this point last week in the debate on the Finance Bill. He pointed out that Britain is the only O.E.C.D. country, apart from Germany, to write off scientific research expenditure at specially accelerated rates. I would draw the attention of hon. Members to the recently published O.E.C.D. Report which covers fourteen countries and deals with this subject.

In some industries there will from time to time be financial stringency, but I do not think that here we are really talking about sums which are so large that industry cannot afford them. If an investment of £6 million by industry in the research association movement shows an annual benefit, as it does according to Dr. Hill, of £100 million, the injection of, for example, only a further £6 million when company profits run at over £2,000 million a year after tax, is not a very great thing to ask, and it would revolutionise the whole picture.

When we come to men, the position is somewhat different. There is at the moment a shortage of qualified men and women, but some of this apparent shortage is not merely a question of having the right number of qualified people but is also a question of the quality of the people themselves. The present output of qualified scientists and engineers is about 17,000 a year. In five years' time this will rise to about 23,000, an increase of more than one third. This progress will continue into the 1970s. Today, therefore, we stand at the beginning of a great decade of opportunities in this respect, an opportunity to get a great infusion of good and well trained brains into industry. Upon our success in getting them there, keeping them there and using them fully our industrial prosperity must depend.

The Government will continue to play their part on behalf of the students, the D.S.I.R., the work of the research associations and the National Research and Development Corporation. We shall continue to do our best to deal with the problem of communicating the results of scientific and industrial research—the problem of closing, as the hon. and learned Gentleman put it, the development gap. The Scottish Mutual Aid Scheme for sharing scientific equipment is already a success, and a similar scheme has been launched in Wales. Both of them are under the D.S.I.R. I believe it is vital that the six regional technical information centres should be continued and expanded. These are for the benefit of firms in the region, and there is no reason why over the long term they should be financed by the taxpayer and not by those who will profit financially by their existence.

The crossing of the development gap is not a matter for public enterprise alone. It is a combined operation by management and Government, and the latter are seldom in a position to provide the commercial acumen which distinguishes between a fine programme of applied research and a potential winner in the export trade. I was pleased to discover that this is being increasingly appreciated, for example by the formation of a private development company, Technical Development Capital Limited, under the chairmanship of Sir John Benn, who, according to The Times today, has given a most encouraging report of the first six months of the company's existence.

The hon. and learned Gentleman stated that he hoped to deal with a number of other subjects but had not time. I am in very much the same position. I believe he wanted to say something about the Atomic Energy Authority. So do I, but I do not think that I have time to go as fully into this subject as I should like. However, I hope that hon. Members will have read the Report of the Authority which was published last week. I believe that this shows the very excellent advances that are being made by the Authority in the field of nuclear research and particularly in the field of the development of various reactor systems.

The Authority's job in all this is to be at the beginning. The Generating Board's will be at the end. The Authority's job is to look many years ahead into the needs of the future. It has to choose between many lines of development which could be followed were there no limitation on resources. The limitation on resources is just as much in men as it is in money. The Authority has to pick the winner not merely before the race starts, but, if possible, before the horse has been born. I assure hon. Members that the programme of the Authority's research is continually under review and will be modified as occasion demands and as new opportunities for exploring new avenues open up.

Photo of Sir Austen Albu Sir Austen Albu , Edmonton

The hon. Gentleman is not a public relations officer. Has he not taken any account of the very serious conflict of views now existing between the industry, the Authority and the Generating Board? Has he absolutely nothing to say on this matter?

Photo of Mr Denzil Freeth Mr Denzil Freeth , Basingstoke

I should have thought that if the Opposition thought these matters were so serious they would have figured in the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech, in which case I should have answered them. As the hon. Gentleman has now brought the matter forward, I am happy to say a word or two about it.

I have seen it suggested in the Press that, for example, the Authority should cease to be responsible for research into and development of new reactor systems and that the Generating Board should take this over. Frankly, I think that is a thoroughly erroneous concept. I believe that the Authority's work on the magnox reactor has been an enormous success. Now that work is diminishing, and this is right, because the Generating Board's laboratories at Berkeley and those of the Consortia can be expected to take over an increasing part of the work of exploiting the potentialities of this type of reactor. This is a situation where such development is sensible and in accordance with what has always been intended.

With regard to the advanced gas-cooled reactor, to which at present some 26 per cent. of the Authority's work on reactor development is devoted, we are not yet in a position to say that this reactor is better than, for example, the Canadian CANDU reactor, nor is one in a position to say that the Canadian CANDU reactor is a better reactor than the advanced gas-cooled reactor. It seems to my noble Friend and myself that it would be entirely premature to make any final decision at the present moment, but I am certain that it would he very wrong for us now, merely because some people do not feel as optimistic about the advanced gas-cooled reactor as they did a few years ago, to throw it over at this stage of development when we are, in fact, just about to discover what sort of a tool it will prove to be in practice in the generation of electricity. I can only say that after talking to the members of the Authority and having visited the reactor itself, I came away perfectly convinced that here we had something which well repaid the large amount of work, research and devotion which has been put into its development.

Photo of Mr Gilbert Mitchison Mr Gilbert Mitchison , Kettering

Mr. Mitchison: Who will be right?

Photo of Mr Denzil Freeth Mr Denzil Freeth , Basingstoke

The hon. and learned Gentleman asks who will be right. We cannot prove it now.

Photo of Mr Gilbert Mitchison Mr Gilbert Mitchison , Kettering

But the hon. Member has been told about a conflict of opinion. He knows it perfectly well. What are his views about it?

Photo of Mr Denzil Freeth Mr Denzil Freeth , Basingstoke

I am trying to tell the hon. and learned Gentleman that to my mind the time is not yet ripe when we can resolve this conflict, because in the last resort we do not now have to say whether we will have one reactor or another. We can afford to wait until it is possible to get performance figures of both the CANDU and the advanced gas-cooled reactor in time for us to be able to decide which to put into the atomic power station programme.

Photo of Mr Gilbert Mitchison Mr Gilbert Mitchison , Kettering

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman again, but, in view of the situation in the coalfields —this is a conflict between the conventional stations and the atomic stations—have we time to wait?

Photo of Mr Denzil Freeth Mr Denzil Freeth , Basingstoke

The hon. and learned Gentleman is questioning me on the whole of the Government's power programme. This is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Power. I am only responsible, in so far as I am responsible to this House, for the work of the Atomic Energy Authority and the advice which that Authority can give on the reactor systems which it is able to develop for the power authorities to put into action.

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

Can my hon. Friend tell me what attempt is made to inject long-term scientific factors into the consideration of these matters by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Power?

Photo of Mr Denzil Freeth Mr Denzil Freeth , Basingstoke

We work very closely with the Ministry of Power, and I can assure my hon. Friend that we are continually talking over these matters between us in order to make certain that the right decisions are finally made.

I should like to end on one general note in relation to science in industry. I think that the rôle which the Government can play here is very often the rôle of being propagandists, whether divine or not, I do not know, but it is a very important rôle, for this reason. Science can only be used in industry by those people who believe in it, by firms which are intellectually convinced that the application of science and technology to their affairs is a good thing and in their own interests. This is a state of mind, and we cannot inculcate it either by bribery or coercion.

Like all attitudes of mind in the community, everything depends upon those at the top. My noble Friend and I were disappointed to discover that at a recent research conference of the Federation of British Industries at Eastbourne, only two chairmen of industrial companies were present; one the present chairman of the D.S.I.R. Council and the other his predecessor. We could wish that more of industry's top brass were in closer contact with what is being done in the D.S.I.R. and in the research associations. The ideal situation would obviously be one in which the directors of the companies in this country were knocking on the door of my noble Friend's office, at the door of the D.S.I.R. headquarters and at the doors of the directors of the research associations, offering more and more ideas for civil development contracts. This is a new departure since our debate last year, and two of them have already been let and a third in electronics is now under discussion.

After all, it looks as though within a decade this nation will, for the first time, have sufficient qualified scientists, engineers and technologists to complete the first stage of our second industrial revolution. My reason for saying this is based on the report on scientific manpower and the plans which have been and are now being carried out by my right hon. Friend and the Government. I believe, in fact, that we shall have this, and, what is more important, that we shall make good use of it.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

May I ask the hon. Gentleman whether he has read the report of a joint conference of technical teachers and the National Union of Teachers, which certainly did not share his optimism about the number of trained teachers available?

Photo of Mr Denzil Freeth Mr Denzil Freeth , Basingstoke

I have read the report to which the hon. Gentleman refers, but I was referring to the whole scientific picture and not merely to the question of teachers, vitally important as that is.

5.14 p.m.

Photo of Mr Norman Pentland Mr Norman Pentland , Chester-le-Street

I am glad to have the opportunity to take part in this debate, because, like the Parliamentary Secretary, I want to concentrate at some length during the course of my speech on the need for a more extensive concentration on scientific research in industry.

I should have thought, and I say this quite seriously, that in a debate of this kind, concerned with science in industry, at least we should have had some representative of the Ministry of Power present on the Front Bench opposite. In regard to our energy-producing industries, in which science has a great part to play, and the Parliamentary Secretary has already referred to the nuclear energy programme, I should have thought that at least the Minister of Power, or, possibly, his Parliamentary Secretary, would have been here this evening in order to wind up the debate on this very important topic. I say to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, who I see looking at me, that I respect him very much, and, indeed, his ability, but, even with all his great ability, I am quite sure that he will not be able to contain within his speech all the factors in relation to the problems of increased scientific research into the energy-producing industries of this country; and some of us will want to refer very much to that topic this evening.

I want to place particular emphasis on the need for further scientific research into the coal industry. I do so because, while I admit at once that I am speaking as a layman in this highly specialised field, I believe that the coal industry offers great possibilities and potentialities to scientists and technologists on how to promote more uses for coal and bring about greater efficiency in coal-producing methods. Everyone on both sides of the Committee will agree that the greater the success in the field of coal utilisation, the better the possibilities would be of achieving and maintaining a healthy national economy.

Therefore, we have to ask ourselves these questions. Is sufficient being done in this field today? Is sufficient scientific research being entered into so as to enable this country to keep pace with other advanced coal-producing countries of the world? I have particularly in mind the vast coal-producing countries of America and Russia. I do not think that we are doing so. The Parliamentary Secretary referred to the part which private enterprise had to play in the encouragement of its own scientific research, but he did not say anything at all about the part the Government should play in encouraging and assisting scientific research and investigation in the nationalised industries.

I have here an ally, because the Minister of Power himself must have explained his views to the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy, according to its Report for 1959–60. In the Annual Report of the Advisory Council for that year, on page 9 and in paragraph 24, I find this passage: We agree with the view put to us by the Ministry of Power that, having regard to such estimates of cost trends as can be made and to the problem of the size and continuity of our indigenous coal industry, it is justifiable to strengthen research effort on coal utilization. The Minister of Power himself at that time must have been aware of the fact that there was an urgent need to intensify research into coal utilisation. I would agree with what was in the mind of the Minister of Power at that time—that if we are to improve our position, long-term programmes of research should be initiated at once with the object of finding new outlets for coal. In promoting this in a nationalised industry, I am sure that the Parliamentary Secretary is bound to agree that everything depends upon Government policy and on Government assistance and support.

In March, 1961, the Labour Party introduced a splendid document entitled "Science and the Future of Britain". I know that it was derided by certain people on the opposite benches, and I think it would be too much to hope that the Government would accept any of its recommendations, but it would most certainly be in the national interest if they did.

The aim of the document was to draw attention to some of the major problems facing Britain today and to what we could expect in the future. One part dealt with science and research in relation to industry, and it had something to say on page 9 about the fuel and power industries. It should interest my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) who, in his splendid speech today, referred to comparisons between this country and the United States. It said: The mechanical energy per head of the population is a simple index of the standard of living of the people. Here in Britain we have 2½ horse power available per man. In the U.S.A. it is 8½ horse power. I do not think that anyone in Britain can be satisfied with that disparity. Therefore, we must ask ourselves what we can do about it and what Government policies should be introduced in order to close the gap. We on this side of the Committee have said over the years that one of the Government's greatest mistakes is that they have allowed, and continue to allow, the nationalised industries of coal, gas, electricity and atomic energy, along with the private oil companies, each to go it alone. They pursue different and competitive lines of action. One of the tragic results is that there is no real coordination of research and development in our energy-producing industries. This is disastrous in a highly mechanised country like ours.

It should be obvious that, if we are to have a more intensified study conducted into such questions as coal utilisation methods, far more will have to be done by the Government by way of further financial assistance and support and by a reconsideration of their fuel and power policies. Only then shall we be able to say that we are taking full advantage of this country's greatest natural asset.

Having said that, I would not pretend that increased scientific and technological research would solve all the problems in the coal industry. Far from it. But I would claim that an accelerated programme of both short and long term research is vitally necessary, not only in the interests of the coal industry itself, but of the economy at large. For who knows but that it is quite possible that, as a result of scientific research and investigation, new industries may be born in areas such as Durham, Scotland and South Wales, opening up a new future for them and bringing new hope? These industries probably would not be competitive with the coal industry but complementary to it, working with it in harmony.

I do not want to be misunderstood. I do not under-estimate the splendid work being done by the National Coal Board in this direction. All of us who have worked in the coal industry for any length of time fully appreciate the expansion of research undertaken by the Board over the years. I can bring to mind without going into great detail the first-class results from such research departments as the Mining Research Establishment, the Coal Research Establishment, and the Scientific Control Establishment, to name a few. All of the people in these departments deserve our praise for what they have achieved over the years over a wide range.

But as far as I can understand—indeed, I know this to be a fact—they are hampered in their work and from giving full scope to their activities because they have been influenced, and indeed directed, to be appreciative of economic considerations in the coalmining industry. This is a most unfortunate state of affairs. The same position exists—and some of my hon. Friends will refer to this at greater length—with extra-mural research carried out in universities and technical colleges, where splendid work is also being done. The scientists and technologists in these establishments, are still hampered and unable to give full scope to their activities.

It is obvious that the Government themselves must bring forward the initiative for our research scientists if we are to achieve the results which will enable us to keep pace with such coal-producing countries as America and Russia. I was in Russia in 1960 with the Inter-Parliamentary Union delegation. During our stay in Moscow, I talked to some mining engineers, together with leaders of Russian mine workers.

Our discussion got round to how the Russians are entering into research for further outlets for coal and to coal utilisation methods being used there. I found that in their universities and technical colleges they are far ahead of us in this. The Government have a lot to do here, in this coal producing country, to keep pace with Russia and America.

Photo of Mr John Osborn Mr John Osborn , Sheffield, Hallam

Did the hon. Gentleman see the result of that research in Soviet coal mines? Was he able to see what was happening as a result of this research? Or did he merely have a discussion about research associations?

Photo of Mr Norman Pentland Mr Norman Pentland , Chester-le-Street

We just had a discussion. I was not in the coalfields themselves. But the facts are obvious, for we receive reports in this country. I need not go into detail, but the National Coal Board does have certain information about research in Russia. There is no doubt that, even taking output per man, the Soviet Union will be far in advance of us in scientific and technological research if we do not do something about it. Perhaps the Financial Secretary will tell us what the Government intend to do to broaden the activities of our universities and technical colleges in research. My information is that a lot more could be done.

The Government have a vested interest in coal utilisation for more reasons than one. In the lifetime of many of us here, it may be that instead of being so concerned about coal exploitation we shall have to be concerned about coal conservation. We may have to pay high regard to how we are to conserve our coal resources. This is not just my opinion. It is the considered opinion of many of the world's leading fuel experts. As far back as 1952, a report by the president of the United States Materials Policy Commission—known as the Pabey Report—covered United States and free world fuel requirements up to 1975. In Vol. I of the Report, on page 129, we find this statement: Sometime beyond 1975, and conceivably before then, coal's percentage share can be expected to begin rising as coal is obliged to take over from petroleum and natural gas a larger share of the burden of increased demand for energy. Meanwhile it probably will pay industry in the years immediately ahead to exploit vigorously the opportunities in coal, thereby relieving the drain on more limited resources and conserving them for higher value specialised uses. That was reported to the American president in 1952. Yet in 1957 some misguided people in this country—including some hon. Members on the benches opposite—were actualy forecasting the end of the coal industry.

Then we had the statement by Sir Harold Hartley in a well-balanced speech which he made in London on 19th January, 1960, when he was reported as saying: There is no question but the world reserves of coal are much greater than those of oil and natural gas. The present investment in our British coalfields will pay a handsome dividend. I am told that some of the big oil industries in the United States are investing in coal. Nuclear electricity can do many things but it cannot produce the compounds of carbon that in so many ways are playing a larger and larger part in our modern way of living. So one could go on. There is no doubt that the conservation of coal is giving serious concern to many of the leading fuel experts in the world. I read recently that fuel experts in West Germany have already informed the Federal German Government in the Bundestag that they deplore the haphazard closing down of so many pits in the Rhur coalfield. We may have a problem of our own in this country. It has always been my belief that any British Government, no matter of what political colour, has a responsibility not only to the present time and the immediate future but also to posterity. It could be that in the long run we shall deplore the closing down of so many pits in the country because immediate economic circumstances determine that they should be closed. I will leave that point, however, as I am sure that if I pursue it further I shall be ruled out of order.

I am trying to impress on the Government how vitally necessary it is for them to assist the National Coal Board far more than is done at present in order to enable it to expand and develop still further scientific and technological research. Until this is done, I repeat, we can never be satisfied that we are making the best use of the greatest asset which this country possesses.

I wish briefly to refer to another aspect of the coal industry in which I believe that scientific research could play a most important part. I refer to the very important matter of promoting greater safety in our coal mines. Let me say at once, in case there be any misunderstanding, that I do not for a moment underestimate the splendid work done by the National Coal Board in this direction. Before I left the pits, almost six years ago, I saw the great advances which have been made in improving the standard of health and safety in our pits. I think it true to say that in our attempts to make British coal mines safe we compare very favourably with every other coal-producing country in the world. Having said that, and despite the impressive improvements which have been achieved by the National Coal Board over the years, I still think that there is a tremendous amount to be done. I was very pleased to see that in his presidential address at the union conference at Skegness the president of the National Union of Mineworkers paid particular attention to this question of safety. It was quite right and proper that he should do so.

I was interested to note that in the Report of the Research Council of the D.S.I.R. for 1961, on page 14, under the heading of "Research Station" reference is made to the research stations which receive grant aid and their activities are explained. I was interested particularly in the recommendation contained in the last paragraph which states: We are convinced, however, that there is a need for further flexibility in order to ensure that the research facilities we have helped to create are used to the best advantage, and we have accepted the Industrial Grants Committee's recommendation that further grants 'earmarked' for special activities should be offered. These would be aimed at increasing the efforts of research associations on items or fields of research which were judged by the Department or the Government to be of particular importance. To take one important example, we feel that industrial health and safety is a field which should be given more attention. So the D.S.I.R. Council recommends that there is still a tremendous lot to be done and I think that a tremendous lot could be done.

Those of us who come from the coalfields know that so long as coal mines have to be worked miners will have to work in dangerous conditions as is determined by the hazardous nature of the occupation. I hold the view that scientific research and exploration could reduce considerably those risks which the miners have to face. In the annual reports from Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Mines is evidence to enable anyone who reads them to understand our concern about this aspect of the industry. On 1st February, 1961, the Chief Inspector submitted his report on the explosion which occurrred at the Six Bells Colliery, in Wales, in June, 1960, when 45 miners lost their lives. The report included this statement: The explosion at Six Bells has emphasised that the ignition of a comparatively small accumulation of fire damp such as is likely to occur in any seam, may, in some circumstances cause a disastrous coal dust explosion. This is a very serious statement. The inspector says that it may in some circumstances. What are the circumstances? Are we satisfied that we are even reaching the possibility of finding an answer about circumstances which could exist in our coalfields today? Whichever way we look at the problems it is obvious that new methods of working which have been introduced into our coalfields, and at the coal face, and new methods for the transportation of coal, bring with them greater dangers and increased hazards for the miner. I am saying that science has an important part to play in this connection. I am convinced that in the final analysis, given the assistance and opportunity by the Government, it could reduce those hazards considerably.

I accuse the Government of failing to face their responsibilities over the question of scientific research into industry. I accuse the Government of failing to offer to the National Coal Board and to other research departments the maximum assistance necessary to enable them to carry out their vitally important scientific research into the many aspects affecting the coal industry. I believe that the Government are failing to face the challenge which exists in this very important matter. I hope, as a result of this debate, that the Government will have another look at the things that we have been discussing and increase the assistance given to the National Coal Board to enable greater scientific research and investigation to be carried out. I hope also that they will examine their fuel policies so as to co-ordinate the energy-producing industries to further the needs of scientific research. If that is done in the final analysis it will bring benefits and pay high dividends to the country. It will pay high dividends by improving our economic position and the living standards of our people, and at the same time bring greater safety to the men who win our coal in the British coalfields.

5.41 p.m.

Photo of Commander Anthony Courtney Commander Anthony Courtney , Harrow East

The Committee has listened with great interest, as I have, to the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Pentland). I believe that hon. Members share my appreciation of his sincerity in discussing difficulties which Face the great industry which he represents. When he embarks on his experiences in Moscow, however, I hope he will not always take for granted everything said to him by the Soviet mineworkers' representatives.

Photo of Commander Anthony Courtney Commander Anthony Courtney , Harrow East

Perhaps he might share the viewpoint of a Russian I had dining with me last night, who at one paint said, "Commander Courtney, I think you are pushing my leg." The hon. Member, I hope, will forgive me if I do not follow him closely into the industry about which I have very little personal knowledge. I should like instead to take advantage of the wide terms of reference of the debate by raising a subject which is directly relevant to the Votes we are considering. It concerns the application of nuclear energy to merchant ship propulsion.

I must admit that I was a little distressed to hear my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary talk about the Atomic Energy Authority being at one end of a line and the Central Electricity Generating Board at the other. In view of our great interests as a maritime nation, he might not only have referred to the Electricity Generating Board, but to the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy and their ships. I believe that we have an opportunity within the nuclear energy field of making a break through which perhaps will play a very great part in restoring the economic fortunes of this country through its natural medium, the sea.

I must pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, West (Mr. Wingfield Digby) for raising this matter in an Adjournment debate shortly before Christmas. It is not my purpose to touch very much on the naval aspect of the research and development programme for marine nuclear propulsion, but to discuss for a moment whether or not we are going the right way to effect the break through in marine nuclear propulsion for which so many countries are striving at present.

It is possible to say that we are at a point of maritime history more important than the advent of the steam turbine, much more important than the advent of the marine diesel, and perhaps almost as important as the translation of the method of propulsion from sail to steam. We are searching, by dint of money provided by the Government and utlised by the Atomic Energy Authority, for an economic means of propelling merchant ships. We are engaged in this programme primarily on a national basis.

The Committee will agree that it is right and proper that we should take part in the many international consortia working on this problem, but we should remember that, from a nurely national point of view, we have competitors who are working very hard on these problems, nationally as well as internationally. It behoves us to keep our noses ahead in order that perhaps we can produce first the answer for which we all wish. I want to say a word or two about what our foreign competitors are doing in this field.

I am afraid that we are inclined rather to hide our heads in the sand and refuse to admit, even to ourselves, the stark fact that the Americans have something like 70 nuclear warships of all kinds either authorised, building or acually in commission. They include not only submarines, but an aircraft carrier, a cruiser and two frigates.

Much more important from the point of view from which I am speaking today, is the "Savannah", a merchant ship of approximately 20,000 tons specifically designed for nuclear propulsion by a pressurised water reactor. That ship is undergoing sea trials. Preliminary reports show it to be fairly successful at sea. The benefits of that experience are going directly back to the United States subsidised shipping lines which provide so much competition at the present time and which are likely to be such a competitor of ours in future.

Our Western German neighbours have five subsidised schemes for different types of marine nuclear reactors, one of which involves the building of a ship at Hamburg, admittedly shared internationally, powered by an organically moderated reactor. It is being built for the specific purpose of investigating practical problems of marine nuclear propulsion. Euratom, in which we do not yet participate but may shortly, has four projects including the German one and the design of a tanker by an Italian group containing those famous names Fiat and Ansaldo. The European Nuclear Energy Agency has three ship projects in conjunction with the Swedes, the Dutch and the French. Design studies are being made of a 20,000 ton bulk carrier, an oceanographic vessel for the French and a 65,000 ton tanker.

In Russia the icebreaker "Lenin" has been operating for several years with three pressurised water reactors. It is an example of Soviet cynicism that at the Atoms for Peace Exhibition at Geneva the "Lenin" should have been set up as an example of the pacific intentions of the Soviet Union when in fact I think any naval person would probably realise that those three reactors are directly intended for submarine purposes and for the investigation of nuclear propulsion for the Soviet Navy. In Japan there are plans for a tanker and for a passenger liner, both powered by nuclear propulsion.

This is a formidable list of what other maritime nations, and nations which perhaps are not primarily maritime in their thinking, are doing in this important respect. What are we doing? On the surface—I repeat on the surface, superficially—it does not seem that we are doing very much. For seven years the Atomic Energy Authority has been studying this important question. The study has been speeded up since 1959. Perhaps it is no coincidence that the great acceleration of this research and development programme came at the same time as the arrival on the scientific scene of my hon. Friend and his noble Friend the Minister for Science.

In the last month or two we have had the welcome news of the allocation of £3 million to marine research and development, to be administered by a high-powered committee which represents the British Shipbuilding Research Association, Lloyds Register, and the shipping world as a whole. I very much welcome the width of the interests represented on that committee. Design contracts have been given to five different groups in industry, and the Government deserve our congratulations on three grounds for the recent progress made.

In the first place, the Dunnett Committee, which administers this quite considerable amount of money, is broadly based, and that is most important for one special reason. This autumn, perhaps, a preliminary decision will be made to narrow the choice between certain reactors that have been under development and which show considerable promise towards providing the economic result for which we are all looking. I am sure that hon. Members will agree that it is most important that it should not be thought at any point that the Atomic Energy Authority is judge and jury in its own cause in deciding which one, two or three of those reactors should get the greatest support in the future.

Secondly, visits I have made to the Nuclear Reactor Division of the A.E.A. have made it quite obvious to me that this sum of money, and the clear interest shown in the subject by the establishment of the Dunnett Committee, has engendered a tremendous spirit of enthusiasm in those scientists and engineers who are working on this research and development programme. I was extremely impressed by that spirit. Incidentally, I was delighted to find so many old friends concerned in the programme. There is a first-class team, and I could not be more pleased with the way things are going from the personnel and enthusiasm points of view.

Thirdly, the Government deserve our congratulations for having the courage to go outside this country, and the Atomic Energy Authority, by concluding an agreement with Belgian interests which involves certain forward-thinking concepts, including the development called "spectral shift", which shows considerable promise for the future.

As I say, we are narrowing the range of reactors under investigation towards the ideal, consisting of a reactor of a capital cost of the order of, perhaps, £¾ million, and operating fuel costs of the order of one-seventh of a penny per shaft horsepower per hour. I do not think that there is any possibility of that ideal being achieved in the immediate future, and the available evidence seems to show that none of our competitors has yet got to that point.

We have arrived at a critical moment. This autumn as I have said, from a field, narrowed as it already is to, perhaps, five or six reactors, a choice will probably be made of one, two or three favoured reactor systems on which we shall concentrate in order to go forward towards the optimum for which we are looking. There are two serious obstacles to the continuation of this programme— —and here I must take up points mentioned by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary and by the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison).

The gap between theory, research, pure science, and application to the end in view must be watched very closely, and that brings me to my main point. Of those two obstacles, one is comparatively minor, and one is certainly major. I shall deal, first, with the minor one. I hope that I am in order to refer to a purely naval atomic project which will culminate with the entering of H.M.S. "Dreadnought", the atomic-powered submarine, into commission with the fleet at the end of the year. I have a Parliamentary Question down on that matter, to which I believe the answer will be that the date will be postponed.

The minor obstacle is this. It is within the general knowledge of this Committee that a great part is being played in the delaying of this project by demarcation disputes in the yard at which that submarine is being built. But in the Marine Propulsion Division also, demarcation disputes, the narrower shibboleths of certain trades union concepts, are not only delaying the programme but making much more expensive the very extensive engineering operations that have to go hand in hand with the development of these types of nuclear reactor. I think that the Committee is entitled to ask hon. Members opposite—not only collectively but, in many instances, individualy—for their cooperation and assistance in trying to overcome some of these old-fashioned ideas that are holding back a fine programme like this.

The major obstacle that hampers the application to the sea of what we hope will be a small number of near-optimum nuclear reactors is the fact that while all our competitors are either designing, building, or actually operating in service a nuclear-powered merchant ship we, at one time the greatest maritime nation in the world, have not yet got our feet wet. We have no design, if one excepts the 65,000-ton tanker that passed away in 1959, nor have we a project for sending to sea, in actual operation, a reactor or reactors of our choice. Uneconomical though they may be, they are surely necessary prototypes for the first generation of nuclear-powered merchant ships which, we hope, will be built in our shipyards.

The decision taken last year not to build a ship might have been right or it might have been wrong—these are questions of judgment. It is very difficult for us, without the knowledge—and it is almost as difficult for those with the knowledge—to decide at what point it is right from every point of view to get our feet wet; to put the reactor of the moment into a ship, and send it to sea. I believe that there are some very real and important reasons why we should do that as soon as we possibly can.

In the first place, it is not always realised that the advent of the nuclear-powered merchant ship requires totally new hull form, because we are getting rid of a great amount of space, and a large amount of dead weight by doing away with oil fuel. Secondly, the small nuclear package reactor at which we are aiming requires a new positioning of the main machinery of merchant ships with all the problems that involves.

Thirdly, it is essential that we should, as soon as possible, acquire practical training facilities for the engineering staffs and sea-going personnel who will operate nuclear reactors in merchant ships. Fourthly, we need the data and precise costing evidence of voyages undertaken, utilising these reactors, to show just what the economic prospects of this new system are. I am delighted to see my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury in his place and since he will reply to the debate we should realise that he is a person very closely involved.

I will detain the Committee a while longer by making what I consider to be a few practical suggestions. The ship for which we should aim should be, perhaps, a tanker of 25–30,000 tons deadweight, that being the approximate size which can be powered by two selected nuclear reactors of 10,000 shaft horsepower each, perhaps operating geared steam turbines on one shaft. The two reactors could, perhaps, utilise the same propulsion machinery but with different types of nuclear core.

Another suggestion is that the Admiralty—and I make no apology for bringing my old chiefs into this—should act as ship owner in this project. One cannot run a ship by committee. I once saw this attempted. It happened during the Spanish Civil War when the "Jaime I", a Republican battleship, was looking after our men who had been mined in the "Hunter". This happened a long time ago. It was the first, and I hope it will be the last, time in which I drank sherry in the wardroom with the commanding officer accompanied by red-rosetted able seamen of the ship's political committee.

A ship cannot be owned by a committee, and if the Admiralty took charge of this project and became the owner it would simplify many problems of administration. I would not suggest that the ship should be built to warship specification. That, I think, would be fatal. It should be built to Ministry of Transport and Lloyd's Register specification and operated by the Admiralty. That is most important, otherwise one's castings and the economic data gathered from voyages could not be fully applicable to the merchant ships in which these reactors will be installed in the future. It should be operated under the orders of the Dunnett Committee, for in the ability and experience of its members I have no doubt.

It would be useful to consider, even at this stage, chartering this ship to individual oil companies, provided not only that the data received on the completion of voyages is generally publicised but that all information derived from the operation at sea of the ship is as widely disseminated as possible. This is a subject on which I feel strongly and there is one naval comment I must make. There can be no doubt to any thinking person that the interests of the naval and commercial worlds in respect of nuclear reactors at sea are converging.

The requirements of a warship are not dissimiliar in the long run, to those of a merchant ship. The difference at the moment is that one can accept a far greater burn-up and intitial cost—plus fuel and running costs—of a warship than of a merchant vessel. Nevertheless, if we envisage a type of package reactor made available to merchant ships, perhaps all around the world, the possibilities for warships can be equally well seen.

Hon. Members may know of the Deltic engine manufactured by Napiers. In whichever part of the world a ship may be, components need never be repaired but just replaced. One has merely to remove the worn or damaged engine, whip it out and replace it with a new one. I can foresee the day when that system will be applicable to a whole generation of nuclear merchant ships, I trust built in this country.

I contend that our research and development is going as well as can be expected. We are on a rising tide of enthusiasm and, perhaps—and only perhaps—we have our nose ahead of our most important rivals. However, I beg the Parliamentary Secretary, his noble Friend and the Financial Secretary to remember that theory without application is nothing. For heaven's sake let us, a maritime nation, now decide to get our feet wet.

6.6 p.m.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

I hope that the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Harrow, East (Commander Courtney) will forgive me if I do not follow him into the intricacies of the subject with which he has dealt with such great authority. I rise to bring one matter to the attention of the Committee, as an earlier intervention of mine might have indicated.

I thought that the Parliamentary Secretary's speech was full of platitudes. He never got down to tackling the question of how we are to improve the quality of scientific research in this country. He described the Government as a propagandist in this matter and painted a picture to indicate that the Government have simply to prod industry into spending its money in the right direction. He then indicated that there is opening before us a decade of progress with plenty of skilled scientists available in industry to do all the research we want. I think I do the hon. Gentleman no injustice in describing that as the picture he painted.

When I intervened earlier, the Parliamentary Secretary, at the end of his speech, said that he was referring to the broad picture of scientists in industry and not to the subject of science teachers. He said it in a way that led us to believe that industry will get all the people it needs from the present provision in our universities and colleges for the training of people in science. In my intervention, I drew the Parliamentary Secretary's attention to a report which has been issued, "The Supply of Science Teachers", for it is on this supply that the pivot of our scientific research will depend at the end of the day. The report has been issued by the Joint Committee for Science and Education, and the Association of Scientific Workers, the Association of Technical Teachers' Institutes, the Association of University Teachers, the National Union of Teachers and the Science Masters' Association all took part in its preparation.

It is fair to remind the Committee that there is deep anxiety among those responsible for education about the way in which we are failing to provide enough highly trained scientists to undertake the work about which we are speaking today. The competition for trained, skilled scientists is intensive in industry, the Civil Service, the social services and the teaching profession. Unfortunately, no regular statistics of the total number of science teachers or of the future needs for them are as yet published by the Government.

The Parliamentary Secretary spoke of the rôle which the Government must play. Surely they have a direct and major responsibility for ensuring that adequate provision is made for the training of science graduates and that we are likely to recruit enough people to become science graduates and to take their place in the educational service, without which everything else remains an idle dream. The Ministry of Education, which has a responsibility as well as the hon. Gentleman for the production of science graduates, tells us that it cannot provide statistics about the number of science teachers because the Ministry's statistics are based on the qualifications of the teachers and not according to subjects.

Photo of Sir Henry Legge-Bourke Sir Henry Legge-Bourke , Isle of Ely

The hon. Member said that there were no figures available of the number of teachers required, but if he will look at Table 17 of the Report of the Committee on the Long-Term Demand for Scientific Manpower he will find some very informative figures.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

If I may reply to the hon. and gallant Member, the Minister of Education insists upon telling us that the Ministry has no statistics concerning the number which will ultimately be required. I was quoting from the Report. I will look at the figures which the hon. and gallant Member has in mind a little later. I shall be very pleased to find the information to which he has referred.

In the Report issued by the joint committee to which I have referred, attention is drawn to the fact that on the estimates of the Minister of Education we require 47,090 science teachers in 1959. But in the Report on the Long-Term Demand for Scientific Manpower it is maintained that the proportion of graduates in our schools who will be mathematics, science and technology graduates will not have changed greatly from 1959 to 1970. The Report states on page 15, that In maintained secondary grammar schools the 1959 proportion (34 per cent.) has been assumed to apply in 1970. In other maintained secondary schools, the percentage in 1959 (21 per cent.) has been increased to about 30 per cent. in 1970. I have quoted because I believe that the Government are not showing enough urgency in this matter.

At present there is an increase of 14· 6 per cent, in the number of young people who are being released from industry for technical training during the day. This means that more teachers are needed there. The Government envisage an expansion of our university undergraduate numbers by 70,000 within the next five-year period. Two-thirds of these are to be trained in science. This means that we shall require a further 5,000 lecturers at the universities. In the training colleges w have even seen the Government reduce the facilities for science training. The Minister of Education has issued a circular saying that 85 per cent. of the people in training colleges must be taught for primary schools, and there has been a serious reduction in the provision that is made there for people to be trained as science teachers.

We need not only science graduates—and we need 14,000 more of them than we have at present—but we also need several thousand of non-graduate science teachers. There is no indication that, despite the grandiose aims held out, the Government are getting down to the essentials of this problem and are encouraging recruitment in the right field.

How is recruitment to take place? The Government have to bear in mind that if industry is to have the number of science graduates it wants and if research is to be continued in this country they must begin with the teachers. They must begin in the universities and in the colleges. We are therefore back to part of the shocking problem which confronts the country of recruiting enough teachers. I believe that underneath all our scientific research is the need to make teaching more attractive. Science graduates who go into industry will earn three or four times what a science graduate earns in teaching and training other would-be graduates. There is something wrong with our priorities. This is another matter to which urgent attention should be given.

I accept the Joint Committee's recommendation that there should be an immediate national campaign by the Government to encourage scientists who are now in the Civil Service and in industry to be prepared to go into the schools to teach, where they are so qualified. Suitable courses should be provided for training these people. The introduction of new courses on science and technology suitably designed for students who may become teachers ought also to be part of the Government's plans.

We have heard nothing practical from the Parliamentary Secretary about what steps the Government are taking to make sure that they have the men to get on with the job. Unless something urgent is done to attract more science people from industry at this stage into the teaching profession we shall still be behind at the end of ten years, and the hon. and gallant Member for Harrow, East will still he deploring that we are not able to keep up with our rivals.

I have only that major point to make, and I hope that when the Financial Secretary to the Treasury replies he will have something to say about the Government's plans for recruiting and training the right quality of people.

6.18 p.m.

Photo of Sir Henry Legge-Bourke Sir Henry Legge-Bourke , Isle of Ely

I do not think that any of us would dispute the main purpose which the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) has in mind. It is perfectly right that he should say that we must think seriously about the provision of adequate qualified teaching staff, but it is as important, if not more important, to say that we want mathematics teachers than that we want science teachers at the moment. I know that this matter is causing a great deal of concern to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education.

When I interrupted the hon. Member's speech, I referred him to Table 17 of Cmd. 1490. It should have been Table 16. The hon. Member will see from it that the forecast is that the demand for qualified manpower in education will have risen from 35,640 in 1959 to 68,700 in 1970. Then there is a sub-division for scientists and technologists, the final figures being 55,800 for scientists and 12,900 for technologists.

Those are some figures to go on. I do not say that they will necessarily prove to be accurate, but they are at least projected forward after further careful calculation as set out in the White Paper. I sympathise with any hon. Member who has to rely upon forecast figures, particularly since we know in the House of Commons all too well that, even in one year, estimates can sometimes go awry.

My concluding observation in reply to the hon. Member for Cardiff, West is this. We must ensure that we get the best possible value out of the qualified people coming out of our universities. This, I think, raises an enormous problem, which would at once throw us into an education debate, namely, to what extent, with the shortages that we can foresee and the needs and demands we can foresee, can we go on leaving the individual student absolutely free, regardless of what his education at the expense of the State has cost, to choose exactly what he wants to do, taking no account of what is, in fact, in the national interest at the time? This is an immense problem.

Photo of Dr Jeremy Bray Dr Jeremy Bray , Middlesbrough West

Ls the hon. Gentleman suggesting that we should adopt the Russian system of direction?

Photo of Sir Henry Legge-Bourke Sir Henry Legge-Bourke , Isle of Ely

What I am saying is that it may be necessary, as I see the problem developing in the future, to put a choice before the student at a certain point in his education, when he is going for the highest possible category of education. If he does not adopt the course which attracts further grant, then, I believe, we might well have to say that that is his choice and his decision. That is but a tentative idea forming in my mind the more I study these matters.

Photo of Dr Jeremy Bray Dr Jeremy Bray , Middlesbrough West

Would the hon. Gentleman then go on to advocate that the "fuddy-duddies" first be directed off the boards of industries?

Photo of Sir Henry Legge-Bourke Sir Henry Legge-Bourke , Isle of Ely

I am all for getting rid of fuddy-duddies wherever they are. [Interruption.] Perhaps the hon. Gentleman might look at his own Front Bench, too.

This brings me to the point I wanted to make. The hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) made an astonishing speech in opening the debate. I do not know whether he has studied carefully the Eighth Annual Report of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority. In Chapter 7, he will find a good deal of talk about plasma physics and fusion research. In paragraph 156 the Authority says that it proposes to deal with "pinch" and "unpinch" stability studies. I hope that all hon. Members are familiar with what pinch and unpinch stability studies involve. I confess that I have read these paragraphs in the Report three or four times and I am still not much wiser. As regards this debate, on the other hand, we all expected the hon. and learned Member for Kettering to pinch the Government like anything, and we were all ready to assist the Government to be unpinched. However, having listened to his speech, I find it very difficult to know what he was complaining about.

Usually, in Committee of Supply, there is some complaining to do. We air grievances before we vote Supply. I could not help thinking that the hon. and learned Member was really expressing his own ignorance on a subject about which the Committee generally is all too ignorant. I myself claim no superior knowledge compared with any hon. Member in these matters.

Photo of Mr Gilbert Mitchison Mr Gilbert Mitchison , Kettering

I must rise to this one. Fundamentally, I asked the Government only one question, namely, what they did. I have not had an answer yet.

Photo of Sir Henry Legge-Bourke Sir Henry Legge-Bourke , Isle of Ely

There again, the hon. and learned Member shows how unprepared he is for this debate. If he looks at the figures, he will find out a good deal. We are in Committee of Supply, and one of the major matters is public finance. In Appendix D of the Annual Report, 1960–61, of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy

Photo of Mr Gilbert Mitchison Mr Gilbert Mitchison , Kettering

That is not the Government.

Photo of Sir Henry Legge-Bourke Sir Henry Legge-Bourke , Isle of Ely

— the hon. and learned Gentleman will find very conveniently listed the amounts of money which are being spent on civil research. I do not for a moment suggest that what the Government spend on civil research is the only thing that matters. I do not suggest that money is necessarily the most important thing about it, but I should have thought that, in Committee of Supply, the hon. and learned Gentleman might at least have referred to this matter.

Does the hon. and learned Gentleman really think that it is shocking for the Government who, in 1959–60, were spending £ 9,316,000 on civil research in connection with agriculture, forestry, fisheries and food, to be spending in the last financial year £ 12,668,000? That was the sum spent for agriculture, fisheries, forestry and food alone. Incidentally, this never is included, in the mind of all too many farmers, as part of the support which the nation gives to agriculture, and perhaps at this point one might emphasise that.

For industry and communications, the figure has risen from £ 17,314,000 in 1959–60 to £ 19,703,000. So it goes on. The increases show a final comparison between a total of £ 34,313,000 in 1959–60 and £ 42,052,000 in the last year.

I am one of the first to say—I do my best to remind the Government of it from time to time—that one of the most wicked political exercises one can indulge in is to take credit for spending more money than one's predecessors did. I fear that it is all too often true that whatever we spend this year will, for doing exactly the same thing next year, have to be increased a good deal. This is one of the difficulties which Governments have in estimating. I do not suggest that the net increase in the comparison I have just mentioned necessarily represents a real increase in activity, but these figures serve to illustrate the point I want to make as forcibly as I can, that it is no good just comparing figures if one wants to have the real picture of what the problem is and how it is being tackled.

I should have been surprised if the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Pentland) or any hon. Member representing a coal-mining constituency had not tried to make the case for the coal miners in his constituency and for the support of the coal industry here at home. I should have been surprised if someone had not done what he did, namely, make comparisons with the United States of America. I have the very excellent document which was sent to me by the Association of Scientific Workers which, of course, does that very thing. Nowadays, people tend to adopt the international league table approach.

Nevertheless, one must be very careful before assuming that what goes for America necessarily goes here. I recently obtained some figures relating to another industry in which many hon. Members are interested, the iron and steel industry. It is of some importance in this debate to remind the Committee that our iron and steel industry is based upon a conception of manpower and output which is very different from the conception in the United States. In this country, we work on the basis of more than 4,000 men being required to produce 1 million tons of steel. In the United States, the organisation of the industry is such that the labour force is based on 1 million tons of steel being produced by 2,000 men, less than half our figure.

Photo of Sir Austen Albu Sir Austen Albu , Edmonton

Is the hon. Member aware that the new plant at the publicly-owned Richard Thomas and Baldwins works will be the most productive plant in the world?

Photo of Sir Henry Legge-Bourke Sir Henry Legge-Bourke , Isle of Ely

I realise that. All I am saying is that one should not draw these strict comparisons between one country and another. There are many things about our industry different from those in America—the cost of travel, the distances travelled, concentration of population, the fact that Britain is an island, and the age of factories; all these things come into it. I am always very suspicious of these international league tables if we are really seeking a true picture.

Photo of Mr Norman Pentland Mr Norman Pentland , Chester-le-Street

I have a good deal of sympathy with what the hon. Member has said. I was referring to the energy available in industry.

Photo of Sir Henry Legge-Bourke Sir Henry Legge-Bourke , Isle of Ely

I assure the hon. Gentleman that no one is more anxious than I am to see the British worker given the right amount of horsepower at his elbow. We all know that these things have to be attended to. But let us be very careful before we assume that figures that we obtain from abroad are necessarily true of this country if they sometimes appear to be better at first blush.

I say to my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary that I do not think that he did himself or his Department the full justice that he could have claimed today. He was far too modest. I am rather proud of what the Government have done in the field of science and technology. I hope that no one will assume from what I have said that I am in the least complacent about what we have done. Heaven forbid, that anyone should be complacent about it. I fully support what my hon. Friend said in relation to the need for industry to take a more active interest in science and its application. But we have to be very careful before we who are in a glass house start throwing stones.

I have been present since the debate began, and I doubt whether there have been more than forty hon. Members in the Chamber during the whole of that time. I would say that this side of the Committee is, if anything, more to blame than the other.

It is a fact that science is a subject that frightens people off. I wonder whether we could improve this situation if we talked about people—scientists instead of science quite so much. Hon. Members are certainly politicians if nothing else. We ought, therefore, to be interested in people. I am quite convinced that the great mistake that far too many pluggers of science have made is in talking about it as though it were something abstract, impersonal, material and rather horrible. That is why I am not surprised that the hon. Member for Cardiff, West got on to the education front. If one starts talking in the classroom on the basis of something being impersonal, very soon the lesson becomes dull and no one pays the slightest attention to it. That is why I am hoping that if only we can get this down to terms of the human individual and what it means to him we may make some contribution in persuading industry to take more trouble in ensuring that the people working in industry are as fully equipped as they possibly can be to make a success of their job.

In the Adjournment debate on 21st December last year we talked about scientific manpower, and I raised the question of apprenticeship training. I was very glad to hear my hon. Friend say what he did about the progress being made. After that debate I heard from the Minister of Labour, and I gathered that there is a real concerted effort being made now to see if it is not possible to shorten the period of apprenticeship. My hon. Friend gave a good illustration when he said that it took only a year for him to train as a fighter pilot but that it takes five years for a man to become a bricklayer. Is that really necessary? This gives an opportunity really to make some greater improvement.

It is perfectly true that the research associations in industry, if better supported and if the products of their research and development were taken up, could bring about the saving of millions of £s, but I do not believe that we shall get this matter right unless we first make sure that the people coming into industry are themselves going to force those who are already there to think scientifically. I think that it was in Health, Wealth and Happiness of Mankind, one of the few books of H. G. Wells that I have ever managed to finish, that he said, "Before you can educate the children you have to reeducate the adult". I am not sure in this problem that we have not to start the other way round, because I believe that there are some people who have been in industry so long that they are incapable of changing their ways. I believe, therefore, that what we have to do is to try to inject such a pressure of new thinking and new ways through modern scientific education that we force those in charge of industry to mend their ways and take more interest in science.

The Parliamentary Secretary said something with which I disagreed in the last paragraph of his speech. He said that it was not possible to coerce in these matters. I do not think that the Russians would agree. I do not want us to have to adopt Russian methods in order to get over what we have to do. To me, what is far more important is that pressure and weight of opinion should persuade individual people rather than that we should have to introduce rules, regulations and directions. I think, however, that we must have some. The more scientific the organisation of this country becomes the more inevitable it is that the Government have to interfere here and there. But I think that we should keep Government control and direction to the minimum, because ultimately what we are dealing with is human nature. I think that the great fallacy in Socialism is that it too often overlooks human nature, tries to dragoon, and then human nature reasserts itself and the Whole thing collapses

I remember the difference between what was said in Let us Face the Future, the Labour Party programme in 1945, and what it handed over in 1951. I remember that, however well we may organise a nationalised industry, it does not necessarily mean that because it is nationalised it will be more efficient, or that prices will come down. Some of these promises are held out to the British electors from time to time. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. When I can see Government direction doing something better than it can be done by real voluntary efforts by individuals, which we want to get, I shall believe that there is something to be said for the need of State control.

The hon. and learned Member for Kettering said that he did not know what the Minister for Science was really there for. I would remind him that the Minister for Science—

Photo of Mr Gilbert Mitchison Mr Gilbert Mitchison , Kettering

With all respect, I did not say that. I made several suggestions as to what he was these for. What I said was that I did not know what he did, and I have not yet heard. The hon. Member has quoted a lot of work done by scientific associations at public expense, but I want to know what the Minister does.

Photo of Sir Henry Legge-Bourke Sir Henry Legge-Bourke , Isle of Ely

I should have thought that the one thing that the Minister has done—and I am going to get it in even if the hon. and Gallant Gentleman tries to prevent me—is what he declared in another place on 9th November, 1960, to ensure that the country is adequately provided with a fully active scientific life on an adequate scale. That is what he declared to be his object. It seems to me to be a very good one. I would ask the hon. and learned Member to consider fairly and dispassionately, if he possibly can, whether he could have done any better than the Minister has done. I very much doubt whether he could. I think that what the Minister for Science has done since taking office is to get it across to those who are responsible, whether it is in the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, the research associations or the Research Council, that science matters. We have a part to play in this. If only a tenth or a fifteenth of the membership of the House turns up to listen to a science debate, let us be particularly careful before we criticise others for not doing better. If this debate does nothing else, it may jog a conscience or two. It may encourage same people who are working under graver difficulties than those who are trying to do the best by science in this House sometimes have to suffer.

I hope that we have at least shown, or shall show by the end of the debate, that we really believe that this is a subject which matters, that it is an intensely human subject besides being a materialistic one and that, if this country does not tackle it properly, it will have only itself to blame if it goes under.

6.40 p.m.

Photo of Mr Eric Lubbock Mr Eric Lubbock , Orpington

Like the hon. Member far the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke), I have been here since the beginning of the debate, and I must say that we have heard a tremendous number of clichés and statements which have no relevance to the subject. When the hon. Member started to discuss nationalisation, I could not see its relevance to this subject. He said—and I think that I quote him correctly—that it was a subject which the House of Commons at large was all too ignorant about, and I certainly agree with that.

Expenditure by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research was going on before we thought of a Minister for Science. I entirely agree with the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) that we have not had an answer to the question which he posed, namely, what is the function in life of the Minister for Science? Perhaps I could remind him of the answer which Gilbert gave to this question about all the noble Lords in another place some time ago. He said that they Did nothing in particular,And did it very well". The Parliamentary Secretary told us what great emphasis the Government place on science, and I am sorry—since the hon. Member drew attention to this fact, perhaps I may refer to it as well—that this has not been borne out by the attendance in this debate. There are on the Government benches at the moment 2·71 per cent. of the maximum possible number which could be attending [Interruption.] The hon. Member asks about my side. At present 14–3 per cent. of my party is present.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Lewis Mr Kenneth Lewis , Rutland and Stamford

The percentage on this side listening to the debate is greater than the percentage of the Liberal Party listening to it.

Photo of Mr Eric Lubbock Mr Eric Lubbock , Orpington

I will leave the arithmetic to be appreciated by people who can clearly see the difference between the figures Which I have given, and will go on to what I was intending to say.

I believe that there are four questions of fundamental importance. There may be more than four, but these are the central ones. The first is whether the overall amount of research work being done in this country by and for industry is adequate. Secondly, is the distribution of this work between the various industry groups such as to secure the maximum return on the nation's investment? Thirdly—and the hon. and learned Member for Kettering called this a matter of the very highest importance— are the new techniques and methods developed by research workers being applied in industry? Fourthly, and perhaps even more important, are the numbers of qualified scientists and engineers commensurate with the task which industry has to undertake?

The Parliamentary Secretary said something about this matter. He said that industry was spending £ 270 million this year, of which £ 150 million was from Government sources, but he did not tell us whether he considered this to be an adequate effort. He said that the Government's part was to help industry to exploit the fruits of scientific knowledge and wont on to confess that not enough was being done in this regard.

The Parliamentary Secretary also told us the objects of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, namely, to encourage and assist research associations and to undertake in Government stations consideration of problems selected for their relevance to the longer-term considerations. I do not think that the Department is doing this job in many cases. For example, in the Production Engineering Research Association, which has a total budget of about £ 490,000, it would be impossible to undertake long-term studies on things like impact extrusion, numerical control of machine tools and electrochemical machining.

Photo of Mr Eric Lubbock Mr Eric Lubbock , Orpington

I know what the Parliamentary Secretary will say. He will say that investigation is being made into impact extrusion, but it is impossible to perform this function adequately with the present limited amounts of money.

Photo of Mr Denzil Freeth Mr Denzil Freeth , Basingstoke

I said that the stations of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research were responsible for choosing projects of long-term value to British industry. One would expect the Production Engineering Research Association to consider the needs of industry today and tomorrow very much more than the needs of industry in five years' time. However, it does a certain amount of basic research.

Photo of Mr Eric Lubbock Mr Eric Lubbock , Orpington

I was saying that these newer techniques are becoming of great value to industry and that perhaps not enough work is being done on them by the research associations due to the shortage of money. I am sure that the Parliamentary Secretary will agree that for investigation into things like numerical control £ 490,000 is very small skittles.

A very interesting Report published in December last year by the Federation of British Industries is of some relevance mainly to the question of the distribution of expenditure. It does not comment on whether the absolute amounts are adequate, but covers the work of member firms which make up by far the greatest proportion of industry as a whole. It highlighted a disquieting situation. I agree with the Minister for Science, who said on 5th April this year that: The survey revealed the pattern of research and development, a pattern of science in industry which is by no means even and by no means reassuring. The noble Lord went on to say that only three or four industries were science-based—that was the phrase which the Parliamentary Secretary used —some of the biggest being among the least. I found this information in one of the four large tomes in the Library to which the hon. and learned Member for Kettering referred.

Of the £250 million which the Report says industry is spending on research and development, no less than £ 90 million is spent on account of the aircraft industry. The reason for that must be fairly clear, that most of the expenditure by the aircraft firms is Government-financed work connected with the defence programme. This allows them to undertake programmes of a much greater size than they would be able to undertake if they had to be justified by the commercial returns.

I should have thought that the immense concentration of resources in this one sphere must have been very harmful to the economy as a whole over the last few years. I say that because many of the projects have no immediate commercial application, and all of them would involve a diversion of scientific and engineering manpower from other sections of industry.

This is true to some extent even in the civil sphere. There have been examples of wasteful expenditure resulting from vacillations in Government policy. I could quote several instances. For example, the Vickers V.1000, if it had been proceeded with, would be flying over the North Atlantic now if the Government had not had cold feet at the eleventh hour. This aircraft was not proceeded with because the Government said that the development of the Conway engine would not keep pace with the growth in all-up weight of aircraft. That assumption has been proved totally false in the long run. The RCO.42 is the most powerful civil engine in existence. I point out this example because, as a result of the Government's policy, B.O.A.C. had to spend money on American aircraft at a time when we were being treated to frequent lectures by Government spokesmen about our balance of payments.

I have mentioned already wasteful duplication in the aircraft industry. There should be less of this now that we have the series of groupings which have taken place. I do not believe that we should be too worried about preserving competition in this field, because the competition there is comes primarily from the United States, and not from other companies within Britain.

Indeed, with our entry into the Common Market there should be even wider opportunities for collaboration than there have been hitherto, that is, collaboration with European aircraft firms on certain projects which would be too large even for the resources of the bigger companies in this country. An example would be research and development work on the supersonic airliner project, which will, of course, be astronomically costly in comparison with anything which we have so far developed in this country, even compared with the present generation of subsonic jets. I hope myself that we shall be able to share this work and other projects of a similar nature with French and with other European aircraft companies. We have in this country some of the most advanced research and development facilities in the whole of Europe, such as the high-altitude test facilities at Rolls Royce in Derby. I would hope that in this collaboration with European aircraft firms such facilities could be more intensively utilised than they have been in the past.

I would also hope that another advantage might stem from this closer association with Europe, and that is that in the end we should aim at a common procurement policy on the part of European airlines. If we had this, the research and development expenditure which goes into any particular aircraft could be recovered over a much longer run of production. We have never been able to do this in this country, except with the one exception of the Viscount, which must have recovered its research expenditure and development costs many times over, but with the limited markets of B.O.A.C. and B.E.A., that is not true of other aircraft we have developed in this country since the war. I believe that there are great opportunities for the aircraft industry in going into Europe, and I think it is a very important thing to be borne in mind when we consider that question.

I turn back to the Report of the Federation of British Industries. We have £ 160 million left out of the total of £250 million which is spent by industries other than aircraft. The Report makes the point that no less than 83 per cent. is spent by six industries alone. It draws a very clear distinction between what it calls the researching and the traditional industries and it says that the traditional industries such as food, drink, textiles and building, with an employment rather greater than that of chemicals and electrical engineering combined, make a far smaller contribution to the total research activity. The reason for this does not appear to be primarily that firms in the traditional group are smaller than those in what the Report calls the researching group. If it had been so, a partial explanation might have been that the smaller the company or the smaller the group, the less proportion of its resources is devoted to research development, for reasons which must be fairly clear. There is a minimum amount below which one cannot go, and it is beyond the reach of many small companies.

Therefore, it is true to say in general that the smaller companies spend a lower proportion of their resources on research and development. But it is not true in this case, and I think one may say that in certain of the activities there is less point, commercially speaking, in spending money on research and development. It may be that greater use is made of it in those industries with co-operative research facilities. That certainly is true in some cases, such as, for example, pottery or wool. So that to get a comprehensive picture one has to take into account the expenditure by establishments financed through the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research to which I have already referred, and it is interesting to note that the total expenditure as given by the Parliamentary Secretary for the coming year for the Department is £ 20 million—I think he said—and this compares with expenditure by private industry of £250 million as mentioned by the Report of the Federation of British Industries.

This really does put the Government effort into perspective. In this connection it is rather interesting to note the first sentence of the Department's Report for 1961 which says: The economic situation has put increasing emphasis on the role that science must play in fostering economic growth and supporting the export drive. I would not say that expenditure of £ 20 million compared with £250 million which is spent by private industry is going to achieve its object.

Photo of Mr Denzil Freeth Mr Denzil Freeth , Basingstoke

Will not the hon. Gentleman agree that the expensive part of scientific research and development is that part of the process which the more closely approaches production? Basic research is, relatively speaking, inexpensive to finance. It is development of the process particularly when getting near the stage of production for the customer at which there stems the growth of money to be put up. I think that is why it would be untrue to suggest that the value of D.S.I.R. research to the nation, compared with research which goes on in industry, can be assessed by relating the two figures of £20 million and £250 million.

Photo of Mr Eric Lubbock Mr Eric Lubbock , Orpington

Well, of course, what the hon. Gentleman says may be perfectly true, but a number of the research associations which have been grant-assisted by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research undertook both fundamental research and production and development. I have spoken of the Production Engineering Research Association. This Association certainly undertook both types of activity. This fundamental research and the question and answer service, as one may call it, have been of value to users. So I would not say that there is this distinction and that one could draw a line and say that the D.S.I.R. was not trying to do one part of this work. I think I have still made a valid point: there should be more money allocated to the Department of Scientific Research to use in this manner.

I believe that also in the application of science to industrial processes we have already got means available to revolutionise industry. This was my third point which I made at the beginning of my speech, the importance of applying the results which companies achieve by research and development work to industry, and although, as I say, we have already means available to revolutionise many industrial processes, the failure to apply those results has been the brake which has hindered the progress from taking place more rapidly, and I think that certainly in light engineering this process, if one could bring the average company up to the standard of the best, would mean a tremendous advance in productivity.

I said that there were tremendous differences between various industries. In this connection there is an interesting correlation between the amount spent by firms on research and development and the amount they are prepared to spend on new plant. A recent survey which was undertaken by a well-known journal showed that 59 per cent. of the machine tools in Britain are over 10 years old and that 22 per cent. are more than 20 years old. There is the correlation, because, for example, in the shipbuilding and marine engineering industries one knows that 87 per cent, of the plant is more than 10 years old, while the F.B.I. Report, to which I have referred, shows that the number of qualified scientists available is less than two per 1,000 employees. At the other end of the scale we have aircraft manufacture, which is by far and away the largest spender on research and development and has the second lowest percentage of over-age machine tools.

There are, of course, differences between firms in the same industry. We have many small firms in the machine tool industry which employ very few qualified scientists and engineers relative to the large firms, though some companies feel this can be made up by employing more people with the higher national certificate or its equivalent. Again, in the smaller firms one often sees belt-driven machinery which should have gone out before the war.

There may be some firms which are compelled to make do with inadequate equipment through shortage of capital, although sometimes it is a case of wrong priorities. It may be that the numerically controlled milling machine has had to take second place to the chairman's Bentley. But where one finds old plant, the re is frequently a corresponding failure to apply scientific thought to making the most of the facilities already available. As an example, how are speeds and feeds determined in the majority of small machine shops? All too often this is considered of little importance by managements who have no scientific or engineering training, in spite of the potential benefit which could stem from proper attention to such minor details which could be very significant nationally and, moreover, would involve no outlay of capital expenditure.

This brings me to consideration of the final question which I posed at the beginning of my speech and on which the hon. Member far Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) spoke so well earlier. Are the numbers of qualified scientists and engineers commensurate with the task which industry is trying to undertake? I do not want to repeat the arguments used in the debate on scientific manpower on 21st December, but I recall the warning given by the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Skeffington) against repeating the mistake of the Willinck Committee over a wider field.

The Zuckerman Committee's recommendations were based on fairly broad assumptions—not as bread as earlier estimates of a similar nature—and this makes it difficult to comment constructively on the conclusions which the Committee reached. But I do not think that any hon. Member disagrees with the statement that It would be folly to take the risk of significantly underestimating the demand for employment and cramping the vital growth of our scientific efforts by attempting to draw too fine a balance between supply and demand. Whatever may be the situation in the long run, no one can deny that there is a severe shortage of trained scientists and engineers today, and this has been admitted this afternoon by the Parliamentary Secretary. The Federation of British Industries tells us that, There is a standing vacancy rate of about 13 per cent. overall in industries' research and development departments. In some industries it is much higher—over 20 per cent. in engineering, for instance. In the next paragraph it says that this is very significant and that, There is no single factor which could have so large and so immediate an effect on industrial research activity as an increase in the number of qualified scientists and engineers available to it. I believe that a similar statement could be made both about production and about management in general. As a product becomes more complex, we need more qualified people not only in the laboratory but in the works, the sales department and in the board room. I dare say that the Government may agree with this in principle, and may tell us that it is this kind of thinking which has led to their plan for an expansion of the number of university places to 170,000 by 1963. But if that is so, it is impossible to understand why the recommendations of the University Grants Committee were rejected. As the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mr. G. Johnson-Smith) said on 5th April, I cannot for the life of me see, even with the increased expenditure, that the Government announced recently, that they have come to grips with this problem, and acknowledged, what I think ought to be acknowledged, that this transcends all other demands placed upon the Treasury."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th April, 1962; Vol. 656, c. 760.] The Zuckerman Committee estimated that the demand for qualified manpower in education as a whole will almost double by 1970 and that within the universities themselves it will more than double. Only the most unthinking Tory optimist could possibly expect this to be achieved unless we are prepared to place a much higher value on the services of university teachers than we place on them at present. Yet it is in this sphere, I believe, that the Government bear the greatest responsibility of fostering what one might call a science-orientated approach in British industry. Nothing can be done to encourage firms to employ more graduates if the graduates are not there.

In this connection, I should like to quote a Tory research department publication called "Notes on current politics". This was dated 24th April, 1961. I take it that they endorse the remarks in their own propaganda. These were: Sir John Cockcroft has reminded us that Britain is producing five times fewer university-trained engineers per head of the population than America of Russia•• Dr. W. H. Linnel of London University told the British Association last year that the Russian lead in training scientists and engineers could bring about the possible eclipse of the free world in the economy of say twenty years' hence and that this represented a greater danger to the free world than the hydrogen bomb. I do not quite agree with his last statement, but I think that basically this is the crux of the problem, and I am glad to see that it is appreciated by some of the propagandists on the other side of the Committee, in their words if not in their deeds.

But even a large expansion of Government-sponsored research would not necessarily be beneficial under present conditions, because what would happen is that it would draw away talent which would otherwise be employed in industry. My right hon. Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), said on 5th April that the universities are the determining factor of the quality of life in this country."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th April 1962, Vol. 656. c. 744.] I would add that the science and engineering faculties are the parameters which will determine our survival or extinction as a major industrial Power.

7.7 p.m.

Photo of Mr Airey Neave Mr Airey Neave , Abingdon

In describing himself as 14·3 per cent. of the Liberal Party in the Committee, the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock) certainly did himself justice in the number of very important points which he raised. I should like to refer to some of them, in particular the question of international co-operation in production and research. He mentioned our aircraft resources. Although he did not develop this fully, if we joined the Common Market the fact that the sources of the production of aircraft were being pooled within the Six would raise vital questions for the aircraft industry in this country, and I hope that later he will develop that point. It is very important.

Hon. Members from both sides of the Committee have heard how deplorable it is that not many hon. Members are present. I agree with what has been said about that, for it is very important—and I represent a constituency containing a large number of scientists—that scientists should feel that we are taking a genuine and practical interest in their work and in themselves. But, as my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke) said in a notable speech, the fact that a few of us are here to take part in a scientific debate is something at any rate, and perhaps it will stir a few consciences.

The tenor of the Parliamentary Secretary's remarks was that private industry should create the growth of scientific knowledge in industrial matters. There is a lot of truth in this, but there is also much truth in what the hon. Member for Orpington said—that they cannot create a growth of scientific knowledge within private enterprise unless the scientists and engineers are forthcoming. My hon. Friend rather over-stressed the duties of private industry in that respect, although I agree that they have a long way to go. He said that they should be intellectually convinced.

I hope that the Committee and the Government are intellectually convinced in these matters, because one does not wish to throw all the emphasis on private industry without there being a contribution in the form of skill, training and teaching on the Government side.

The particular subject which I want to raise in a very short contribution is this: we may join the Common Market, and if we do, presumably we will in consequence sign the Euratom Treaty. Euratom is a research organisation and, therefore, it is, I hope, in order to raise this matter, because private industry will clearly be much involved in the Government's negotiations that will take place on research within the Common Market.

My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary said, quite rightly, that civil atomic energy is beyond the resources of industry. He meant that a large part of the research and development in nuclear power must be conducted by the Atomic Energy Authority. In referring to private industry in this matter, I should declare an interest in that I am a director of a firm which is engaged in nuclear power station construction. If we undertake negotiations with the Euratom Powers—which for this purpose are the Common Market Powers—what is the basis on which the Government intend to negotiate for private industry?

There is a great deal more Government control of nuclear research in this country than in the Euratom countries. In France, for example, and in other European countries, far more research contracts in reactor work are farmed out to private enterprise. That being so, what is the basis on which the Government intend to negotiate?

I do not dispute that a large proportion of the research will be conducted on a Government-controlled basis—that is to say, in the United Kingdom, by the Atomic Energy Authority. I raise this point, however, and I should like an answer from the Government at the close of the debate. The question is directly related to the amount of research that private industry would do in that direction, because if private industry were able to get contracts in Europe for the considerable "know-how" in nuclear energy matters which it has gained during the past few years, this would be to its benefit.

It is true that private industry has much progress to make in research in most ways that one can think of and that it must increase its scientific activities. The onus, however, is not entirely upon private industry. It is also on the Government to provide the education for the very people who will hold the jobs that will improve our prosperity and our productivity. Therefore, I do not want it to go out from the House of Commons, particularly from the Government side, that there was a lack of balance in what my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary said today and that all the onus falls upon private industry. It does not. It falls upon the Government as well.

I share the view of hon. Members who have spoken that although one can never be complacent in these matters, the D.S.I.R. certainly has done a remarkable job over the past few years. None of us should ever seek to be complacent about scientific research, just as in my view the overall planning of scientific knowledge is an impossibility. There is here a happy mean. I hope that the Government take note of the points made by hon. Members in this matter and that we will have more constructive debates of this kind in the future.

7.14 p.m.

Photo of Mr William Stones Mr William Stones , Consett

It would be impossible for me at this stage to deal specifically with all the arguments that have been adduced by previous speakers in the debate. At least I am pleased to see that the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke) has had the patience to sit here until I have risen to speak, because I wish to refer to one of the hon. Member's comments.

The hon. Member said that science in industry should be brought down to the level of understanding of the ordinary man or woman in industry. I wholeheartedly agree with that remark. I hope that my contribution to the debate will be of benefit to the Committee and to the Government, for I speak as an ordinary layman in industry and not on a highly academic plane.

As a miners' Member of Parliament connected for many years with mining and who served for five years as a mining inspector before entering Parliament, it might be expected that I should deal specifically with mining. That is not what I propose to do. I intend to deal as a layman with the subject of science in industry.

When many people, on both sides of industry, refer to science, they think in terms of its being a new-fangled idea or gimmick. Everyone in this Committee recognises that science in industry has always been with us. There have always been thinking people who have studied the why's and the wherefore's, the cause and the effect. As a consequence, mankind has made great progress. It was not until the eighteenth century that the impact of science in industry was felt and not until the nineteenth century that it was developed to the extent of playing such a great part in our industrial life as eventually to bring about our great Industrial Revolution.

While it is true that the ordinary, practical man has played a big part in the progress which has been achieved, apart from any practical benefits which might arise as a result of practical observations, the truth simply is that to have the fullest benefit from technical improvements, research and the exploitation of discoveries are required on a highly organised scale. The change-over from haphazard working by independent scientists to our co-ordinated efforts simply meant that there had to be a vast expenditure of public money. That expenditure, however, made Britain the workshop of the world, a position which we continued to hold for many years.

The trade mark "Made in Britain", especially in engineering, was a hallmark that was recognised throughout the world. Other nations are following our lead in industry, however, and we can no longer claim to be the workshop of the world. Nevertheless, it remains a fact that British workmanship is regarded throughout the world as top grade.

We are now meeting keen competition from other highly industrialised countries which manufacture goods similar to those manufactured here. Because of this and because our economic survival depends upon how we measure up to those countries in world markets, we must apply our brains and make every effort to speed up research in the application of science, particularly to our industrial requirements. Such research must not be limited by the amount of capital that is available. It is easy to say this; nevertheless it remains true. We can, and we must, afford the necessary amount of capital, particularly to enable our research to go forward.

It has been suggested that industry should itself make available the capital for research. No industry will be found which is prepared to provide it to the extent which is necessary. It will, in my opinion, be necessary for the Government to help. It is true that British research has gone on rapidly in recent years and more and more money has been spent on this aspect of industrial activity, but even now we are spending only 2½ per cent. of our national income in this way. We spend almost twice as much on tobacco. It is also true that we are spending on defence a sum equal to half that 2½ per cent. Because I believe in defence and believe that we have something in this country to defend, I cannot complain about that, but I deplore the circumstances in which such highly civilised beings as we are fritter away such amounts of national income instead of devoting the money to more desirable industrial research.

We can be proud of what is being done by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, our universities, the National Physical Laboratory, other national institutions and also our industrial concerns; but are we doing enough? Is it true that the organisations engaged on this important work are hamstrung through lack of funds? My hon. Friend the Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Pentland) made a remarkable speech on coal utilisation. It is not necessary for me to elaborate that point; but is it true that insufficient money is being spent on the economic production of new materials in respect of coal utilisation? Is it possible that our coal reserves, and the coal industry itself, are being forced to contract to such an extent that social evils will follow? Could coal, the only raw material that we have in abundance, be better utilised not only as a source of heat energy but to provide elements of new materials? If there is lack of money, as a nation we ought to be ashamed.

It must be obvious to thinking people that the competition between the great industrial nations will become keener. Consequently, if we are even to maintain our place in the world as an industrial nation, we shall have to utilise all our resources to their fullest extent, and because of our limited resources more and more will depend on our human resources, skills and ingenuity This will call for more and better scientists than before. I am informed that in 1956 we had about 145,000 engineers and scientists in the United Kingdom. By 1959 the figure had increased by 20 per cent. to 173,000. It is estimated that by 1966 we shall need 60 per cent. more scientists and engineers than we had in 1956. At present 60 per cent. of our scientists and engineers are in industry, 15 per cent. are in Government Departments and concerns, and 20 per cent. in the teaching profession.

Whatever has been said about financial resources to further our scientific effort—I emphasise this as being extremely important—in the last analysis the success of our effort will depend on the quantity and quality of the trained scientists made available to us. This means more education and training in all branches of science, and in order to educate and train scientists and technologists we must have more universities and technological colleges and an adequate supply of qualified teachers to staff them. I think it is true to say that at the moment we are woefully short of all three.

It is true that France, Western Germany, Russia and the United States are well ahead of us in the training of scientists. It has been said that we must compare like with like and that we have different standards, but it is also true that relatively those countries are turning out more trained people than we are. The Government hope to double the annual output of graduates in science and technology subjects in the next 10–12 years, but even if this is ultimately achieved, we shall still be lagging behind seriously.

Our industrial efficiency depends on the availability of new products, machines and techniques, and to achieve this we must re-invigorate our research and develop the results of our research. Our future welfare depends upon our degree of success. We cannot afford to neglect any aspect of improvement in industry.

Apart from our immediate future, we must have regard for future generations, and we can succeed in our object only if the total scientific resources of the nation are properly used and coordinated. It would be a good thing if the scientific resources of the word were properly utilised and co-ordinated. Hunger, poverty, disease and despair would be things of the past in a very short time, but I am afraid that we are a long way from such a Utopian state of world society.

But we can at least organise our own resources. I believe it is possible. Our scientific and technological advancement ought to be fully planned and coordinated. I suppose that in a capitalist society where private firms compete with each other in the same field of industry, it is rather too much to expect coordination in scientific research. We must expect scientists engaged by private firms to work simultaneously, though independently, along similar lines, each keeping to himself any discovery he makes; and so valuable time and energy are wasted. I gratefully acknowledge that there are certain establishments which co-operate in research, but if we are to advance economically with other countries, far more planning and co-ordination will be required and not a man-hour should be wasted unnecessarily.

I believe that we must ask for the fullest provision for those interested in the arts. Reference has been made to arts and science. I would agree that there is a place in our education system for arts, but at the present moment and for some time yet the emphasis in the universities and colleges must be on scientific and technological subjects. Training should start as early as possible. Much has been done in our grammar and comprehensive schools in this respect, but training in scientific subjects should not be confined to those schools. Much valuable human material can be found in the secondary modern schools, and an interest in these subjects should be encouraged in those schools.

I turn to an aspect of science and industry not yet touched upon. Even when we have most modern industries possessing most modern equipment and enough well-equipped universities and technological colleges to continue the process of providing newer and more efficient machines and processes, we have not finished. Have we not seen in some of our most efficient industries stoppages of production as a result of a breakdown of industrial relations? The management of men is in itself a science. I appreciate that we talk about the "art" of managing men, but I think it can be regarded more as a science than an art; and this must be taken into consideration when we discuss science in industry. It is not much use having a well-equipped factory if the men are not prepared to work in it. Consequently, those who are put in charge must be adequately trained to avoid stoppages.

I think that most people on both sides of the Committee would agree that we have reached a stage in our economic development when stoppages over trivial matters can be regarded even as a criminal luxury. On the other hand, the employees in all industries must play their part in the acceptance of scientific advancement and technical improvement. There may have been a case for the Luddites and the activities of Ned Ludd in the early nineteenth century, but not now. If we are to receive the fullest benefits from scientfic research and technical improvement, it will mean greater production by a lesser number of workers.

One can understand, as most people do, the apprehension which is felt in certain industries about redundancy which is the result of technical improvement, and when one considers the question of one's own livelihood when redundancy appears, one can well understand the feelings of apprehension. If, however, we are to avoid industrial conflict because of this process, the Government must play their part in the transitional period. I have asked the workers in industry to understand this point, and I now ask the Government to understand it. If we are to avoid any conflict, the Government must at least guarantee a decent standard of life to all the people displaced during the transitional period.

In conclusion, I say to the Government that they have a very great responsibility in the matters now under discussion. If they are not prepared to accept them themselves, with all the implications of planning and co-ordination of the national resources, which no one can deny are necessary, then they should get out and make way for someone who is likely to do so.

7.32 p.m.

Photo of Mr John Osborn Mr John Osborn , Sheffield, Hallam

Before I develop my own speech, I should like to take up a comment by the hon. Member for Consett (Mr. Stones) on the need for good management; that is, management understanding the problem of redundancy, management that understands the problem of bringing in new equipment. I shall refer later to the particular issues which the hon. Member raised in his speech, because it is no good gaining scientific advances in our laboratories and the scientific advances in our research stations unless we overcome the last hurdle of all, which is applying the results in industry.

I make no apology for referring to two previous speeches which I have made on this subject. One was in the debate on science last summer, and the other on a Private Member's Motion in April of last year, when I moved a Motion on capital investment in industry. What I said in the first speech still applies now. Capital investment in industry must be wise investment, using all the "know-how" which we have in the country. At that time, I emphasised that management must accept responsibility for the type of investment which is incurred in installing capital equipment and new processes. I also gave an illustration of the need to avoid investing in the wrong type of equipment without adequate knowledge. I would therefore agree with the hon. Member for Consett that the science of management is perhaps one of the most important sciences we have today.

Certainly, many industrialists are aware of it, as is the British Institute of Management. Our colleges of technology, and, for that matter, our universities, are also aware of its importance as management features as a major part of the courses.

Today, I want to emphasise some of the practical problems that confront Science and Industry. Some of these points have already been raised in this debate, but I want to ask again how we can best deploy our scientific manpower within different industries, and as the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock) mentioned, in what sectors of the industry should it be deployed. In other words, should we have immediate emphasis in the laboratories or on the shop floor of the factories? I think there has to be a balance between what I would call fundamental research and development, as such, individually in each industry, in each company, and, finally, within the nation as a whole, and that unless we achieve that balance we shall surely fail.

In the Zuckerman Report on the Management and Control of Research and Development, we have various definitions of research— pure basic research, objective basic research, and, finally, applied (project or operational) research. It is in the last field of operation and development that I think the greatest importance lies at present. That does not mean that there is not a big field for continued pure basic research, but that the greatest need at the present time, as it has been for the last few years, is to apply the knowledge we already have in our factories. That application comes into the improvement of design, the improvement of quality, improvement in testing and in inspection techniques.

Having prefaced my remarks with these comments, there is need to justify our expenditure on particular techniques and particular testing methods, and, quite often, it is only a large volume of one product going through a factory which justifies expenditure on particular techniques and processes. Turning to the problem of mass production or volume in one factory, I have twice been to the United States and seen industries with which I am familiar. Already, we have had a statement by my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke) to the effect that steelworkers in America have achieved double the productivity of steel workers in this country, for whatever reason. One of the reasons is that in the pure competitive capitalist system which has prevailed for the last half-century in America. Where there has been free competition, it has resulted in a tendency for firms to concentrate on one product so that there is a large volume of that one product going through one particular factory. That has been achieved largely through the antitrust laws, and because management realised the advantage of specialising in one particular line.

Turning to my own city, Sheffield, several industries there have been visited by industrialists from America, and I have had to outline the fields of activities of at least two groups of companies making certain products. I went through each of half-a-dozen companies in the special steel industry, one of the two groups, to catalogue the types of steel they made, sizes and grades. The hard fact was that the American made me realise that although each firm was a specialist in making small job lots for particular requirements, they were making identical products to each other. There are various industries in which—and this has already been pointed out, and I have mentioned it in previous debates— we have the problem of size. This we have to face up to when comparing our endeavours with those of the United States and, for that matter, with those of Russia.

Looking to the future, it is this problem of size which will confront us when we enter the Common Market—assuming, as I certainly hope is the case, that the outcome of the present negotiations is satisfactory. It will be then that many companies will find that we are in competition with factories which are already manufacturing a greater volume of a given product in one factory.

I should like to give two examples of the problems facing industries and research associations. I have visited several research associations. One was the File Research Association in Sheffield. It has designed and built a file cutting machine the capacity of which outweighs that of the largest factories making files in this country. It has been more or less proved and perfected, but until there is sufficient volume of files going through one factory it can never be used. This is a typical problem that faces this country.

I also have been round a canning factory where I saw the same problem related to the filling and sealing of cans. The type of machine that would do that with a minimum of labour demands a volume of production almost equal to the total canning of this type of product in this country. This sort of problem has to be faced industry by industry.

The hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Pentland) recalled that he visited the Soviet Union in 1960. I, too, have had the opportunity to go there and see one or two factories in my industry, the steel foundry industry. One factory there is producing 100,000 tons of steel castings a year, which is equivalent to more than one-third of the total production of nearly 100 steel foundries in this country. That gives an indication of the advantage which the Russians have on scale in production.

In a debate on this subject last year, my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones) raised the question of the scale of research in Russia. I have mentioned the scale of research, particularly in continuous casting, because of the success they have had.

The British Steel Foundry delegation, of which I was a member, reported not only on the large scale of production—that is, one product going through one factory—and their report is now available in the Library—but on quality and working conditions. The delegation agreed that the quality of the product of the Russian foundries, the working conditions and the safety precautions were well below those we expect in the West, particularly in this country. I asked the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street whether he had merely visited research stations or gone down coal mines. My limited experience—and one cannot generalise from one visit—is that they have the facilities for research but seem to be failing to apply all the knowledge in their research institutes to their industries. Time and again we hear of the achievements of the Russians, but I did not see the great achievement I expected to see on the factory floor. Achievements in high rates of production and high productivity—yes, but not in quality, control, safety and working conditions.

One feature relevant of this debate is the fact that the most highly paid people in Russia are undoubtedly the scientists. One figure which has been quoted in the popular Press and which confirms information I have had is that a top scientist there earns £20,000 a year. When I was over there, I discussed the relative scales of remuneration of top managers, some in charge of factories employing 10,000, and of scientists in research design centres. Without any exaggeration, I think it is fair to say that the average scientist receives considerably greater rewards than his counterpart, the manager of industry.

Thus, we have the demand that our scientists should be paid more and that our Government, regardless of party, must introduce a reasonable balance between the rate of reward of those concerned with management and the runing of factories and those concerned with bringing in new ideas, carrying out research and developing those ideas. That is not an attack on management, because I consider that the rewards for managers must always compare favourably with rewards for the highest scientific work.

My impression—and this is contrary to everything I have heard in this House and elsewhere before—is that while the Russians may be strong in their laboratories, teaching and research associations, their scientists become a strata of society with a status of their own, and many of those who work in research for some time find it increasingly difficult to involve themselves with industrial activities. That has been a problem in this country for a number of years, but in the United States they have overcome it; they have found a way of bringing their scientists to the shop floor.

I illustrate this point by recalling that a number of Russians in one institute I visited took pride in the fact that they had been there for 30 years. I think that we all would agree that scientists give of their best if they change their environment and field of study periodically. The mobility in this country is lacking in the East. I say all this because time and again we have heard how wonderful the Russians are. I do not wish to underrate their great achievements, but this is not the whole story.

As some hon. Members will know, a team from the Amalgamated Engineering Union went to Russia, and its conclusions coincided with those my delegation reached. It said. … we found much which surprised us. Dirty, greasy floors full of pot holes, unguarded machines, not too well kept and closely packed together, bad ventilation, women doing many jobs which are the sole prerogative of men in British factories, no break for tea or coffee, factory buildings reminiscent of 19th century British capitalism, sanitary arrangements quite unbelievable—all this rather shocked us. Some hon. Members will have read that report. It does not mean that because I have been to Russia I wish to run down their achievements, but it does mean that we should put our achievements in correct perspective alongside those of Russia and the United States.

One feature of our Western economy is that of competition, which this Government technically supports. I give one example of a product I saw sent from a steel foundry to a factory in Leningrad Which makes steam turbines and hydroelectric generators for electric power. Steel castings going into the factory were of a quality which would not be accepted from a similar foundry in this country or anywhere else in the West. How does it happen that a country that is supposed to have scientific planning fails to achieve quality? One reason is purely economic—lack of competition. The manager of a factory has to accept the product of another. The Russian Economic Planning Committee dictates his source of supply and, because economic co-ordination is weak, technical co-ordination is more unsatisfactory than it is here.

Then there is the problem of design. Russia has developed under the pattern of its Committees for the co-ordination of scientific development design centres. I visited one centre which designs valves for manufacture in valve factories throughout Russia. The designers are scientists and engineers. They decide what is necessary, but these same men do not have the practical experience of seeing their designs go through all the processes of manufacture on the shop floor. Nor finally do they see the effectiveness of their product when it is put to use in the field.

In the West, our scientists—and I use the word in the sense of including engineers, designers and development engineers—see the products they have designed and created manufactured and then operated in service. This is an immense advantage which is completely lacking in the East.

What are the lessons here? I think they are, to what extent should our industry control its own scientific endeavours, or to what extent should scientists dictate the pace for industry? Industry must have the last word as to the form and application of the knowledge that the scientist has produced. The second lesson is that in putting forward ideas to develop our scientific endeavour we must remember that the greatest results are developed inside the factories after the basic knowledge has been acquired from the universities and in other academic establishments. Therefore we come to the control of science. The hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) asked What the Minister for Science did. I think that most important are certain things which the Minister should not do. Perhaps I may refer again to the country Where some of the Socialist theories are logically applied to the extreme—I was a guest of the State Committee for Scientific Co-operation in Russia and met the Minister in charge of the Committee. We had meetings with him. We learned some of the difficulties of a political control over scientific endeavour.

As many hon. Members will know, there has always been conflict between the scientists and the Communist politicians in Russia and for a long time the academicians held control. In 1957 certain changes were made, but it is only in the last year that Russia has gone a stage further and formed committees for the co-ordination of scientific research. There have been articles in Izvestia and Pravda ventilating the problems. I have translations of these article's which were written. In one case one committee had to review 12,000 research projects to decide whether they should go forward. If the decision whether projects should go forward is centralised, the result is disastrous, except perhaps in the case of a few major projects which would be in the province of the Government. But it would be fatal in this or any country for the Government through a Minister of Science to dominate these decisions. I ask hon. Members opposite to review some of the statements which they made in their pamphlet which was produced last year and to find out the effectiveness of their ideas as applied in Russia.

What we have in this country is a Minister for Science. He has a liaison with the scientific departments in other Ministries. I am convinced that this vision of how a Minister for Science should work is the right one and the most effective. If he becomes the Minister of Science, logically he starts controlling the whole of our national and private research endeavour. The extravagancies of over-centralisation are familiar to us not only in the economic sphere but politically as well.

Photo of Sir Henry Legge-Bourke Sir Henry Legge-Bourke , Isle of Ely

Would not my hon. Friend agree that it is interesting that just as pressure is being put on the Government to try to centralise the control of science, in Russia—although they have a long way to go to get the lack of centralisation which we enjoy—they are in fact moving in that direction rather than in the other direction?

Photo of Mr John Osborn Mr John Osborn , Sheffield, Hallam

I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention. It is true to say that Khrushchev, particularly, realises how quickly over-centralisation can clog up the flexibility of society not only in the scientific but in the economic sphere as well. If we observe recent reports on his reactions in the last two or three months in the economic and scientific fields, it would be of great value to us in this country.

This leads me to the relationship between Government, industry and science in so far as we are concerned with the co-ordination of economic as well as scientific development. In the economic sphere we have the National Economic Development Council which has been created and which I visualise, and sincerely hope, will develop in some ways on the pattern visualised by M. Monnet in France, namely, special committees for each section of industry advising specifically on the rate of capital investment, the rate of growth to be sustained and, hence, the type of equipment to be brought in. I visualise these committees, as in France, as joint committees between the members of economic and development councils and the heads of the industries concerned.

To a certain extent these committees will run parallel to the old trade associations as we knew them which have been influenced slightly by the effect of the Restrictive Trade Practices Act. They could run parallel to the councils now running our research associations, which are essentially co-operative research associations. Before dealing with the co-operative research associations, I would say that it would be wrong to underestimate the effectiveness of research in private industry.

Some hon. Members were with me when an invitation was given to us to see the effectiveness of research carried out by one company, the Royal Dutch Shell Group, in Holland. We were all impressed by the work which that company had done in seismology and the way in which they have developed new materials to protect steel and reduce the amount of rust and corrosion, which could be of immense value in cutting out waste. This is only one example of something which hon. Members of this House have witnessed.

I wish to move on to the issue of research associations which I believe are, in their own way unique. They are co-operative associations, admittedly aided by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. We have 52 of them. The Minister for Science has done an immense amount with the directors of the research associations. The Parliamentary Secretary has visited many of them and there have been more meetings and co-ordination between the research associations in the last two years than ever before. Each association has a different set of problems. This cooperative effort between industries and the people who run the research associations is an example and something of which we in this country may be proud.

Various arguments may be advanced. Are we putting enough money, not only from Government sources, into helping the research associations? Is enough being spent on sponsored research on specific projects? Is there more that the Government could do? I have met many responsible directors of the research associations who have complained that they have had to spend too much time asking their industries for money. This is something which hon. Members on this side of the House should not condone at all. Surely it is the job of the director of a research association to concentrate on the work of the association and not to have to go round industry first, admittedly, to sell the work he is doing, but secondly to obtain sufficient money to balance the money which he is obtaining from Government sources.

Here again we have a dilemma. The Minister has said—I support him—that industry must pay for its own development. The bigger private companies have found it worth while and are reaping the reward. There is a limit to the extent to which industry can call on the Exchequer. But let us remember that the amount spent on research from Exchequer sources compared with the total on research is between 1 per cent. and 1½ per cent. which is surely a small part of the total expenditure on research by the Government.

We must not under-rate the opportunities before our research associations. I should have been at the annual conference of a research association based on Sheffield which happened to be the centre for a European conference of that industry, the spring research association. We do not realise it, but the example we have set in this country may prove the basis, not far research associations for England alone, but for individual industries in the whole of Europe. This is a new situation of which we should be well aware and take advantage of.

Where Government money has been well spent is in the creation of liaison officers, if they can be called such, in research associations. They have a dual function. They can make personal visits to factories, first to tell the managers about the latest scientific and technical developments in their industry, but secondly to bridge any gaps in understanding between our industries on the one hand and the universities on the other. They have the opportunity of ensuring that research is directed towards shop floor problems.

I would not agree with the hon. and learned Member for Kettering that we on this side of the House have anything to be ashamed of in our progress. Progress is slow but sure and our cooperative research as such, in conjunction with the work of the D.S.I.R., is something which I believe will become the envy of the Western world.

I am satisfied that, by way of an interim report, the Government are making satisfactory progress in co-ordinating the activities of science and industry.

8.2 p.m.

Photo of Dr Jeremy Bray Dr Jeremy Bray , Middlesbrough West

The hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr. J. H. Osborn) has fulfilled a very useful purpose in trying to hand out and allocate bouquets among different aspects of research in industry. His interest in scientific matters in his own constituency is particularly commendable and an example which should be followed by other hon. Members, but I cannot entirely agree with this allocation of credit.

We should not measure performance of scientific research simply by the volume of effort applied to. We should look at how effectively the resources are used in proportion to their opportunity. When we look at the research effort of the chemists across the road, or the "Shellephant over the river, I do not think this Committee or industry in general should allow themselves to be entirely bamboozled, blipped on the head, by what they are told and what they see. I have indulged in a certain amount of head blipping before entering this House. It is the easiest thing in the world to put across to laymen a totally false idea of how effective research is in relation to opportunity.

This brings me to what I think is a vital aspect of Government policy towards industry. We can advocate ways of spending money, and I would do so. We can certainly advocate specific projects in which the Government should interest themselves, long-term projects. I would instance the continuous manufacture of steel, the extrusion of fabrics produced from the polymer state, and the piping of computing capacity just like electricity and gas to wherever it is required. These are coming, but they will come only if there is a liveliness of approach from the Government and an initiative which we do not have today.

What more general stimulants can the Goverment apply? I suggest that the Government should do all they can to foster mobility between and within various organisations concerned with research and the application of research in industry. I think particularly of the question of transferability of pension rights. It is a tremendous loss to a man who has to change his job after he has been working for a firm for 10 years and loses his pension. It is also a loss to him in terms of status within the firm. We can take relatively simple steps in Parliament to lubricate the passage of people in the technical world simply by requiring that pensions shall be transferable.

It is not only people we want to move and be free to move, it is information. The House was concerned recently about a take-over bid by I.C.I. for Courtaulds. It felt a certain amount of foreboding at the arrogance of some of the parties in that affair. Was this the behaviour to be expected of the technological giants of the future? Is this the state into which we are moving with the development of modern industry? Certainly I think it was not only the feeling in the House but in the country at large that the difficulties would be lessened if some of the results of that take-over bid were more generally felt in industry, particularly the publication of the information.

Why is that important in research? It is because we cannot isolate research from the whole body of activities of a firm. We must see research in relation to the process of investment and the process of manufacture and sales. We cannot do this unless we have some means of measuring and knowing what is going on in the concern as a whole. A specific measure which I think would not be going beyond the point of view of hon. Members opposite would be to require the publication of accounts of industrial units of a certain size with a turnover of, perhaps, £50 million a year. That would not be exactly interfering in the private business of individuals. If we required separate divisions of I.C.I. to publish accounts and separate companies of Shell to do so we should have a very much better idea of which were the growth points, which were the effective points for the application of more research and the quicker application of research, but we do not have that information today.

Why is it important to publish this? Can it not be pushed round in the "old boy" net, as it is already to a certain extent? I think not, for the reason that power within organisations must be accountable to a larger public—hon. Members opposite would say the shareholders, and we would say the public at large. Surely it is not requiring too much that the tradition of science of the free publication of information should be extended to cover the whole range of activities of large-scale industry.

In this Committee, when we talk about the application of science in industry we are in grave danger of the pot calling the kettle black. Much of what the Parliamentary Secretary said in his mare eloquent passages would, I think, be dismissed in industry among people with whom I recently worked as so much "flannel". They are well used to it. But he said one very wise thing, that science can be applied only by firms which are intellectually convinced of the importance of research. The root of the trouble in the attitude of the Government to research is that they are not so intellectually convinced themselves. In particular, the Minister for Science is not. I shall quote in support of this the "Song for a Minister of Science" which the noble Lord no doubt caused to be published in the Observer on Christmas Day, 1960. The Observer said that Lord Hailsham's family Christmas card contained this song: Sing a song of particlesInfinitely smallTissue cultured specimensFrom off your stomach wall.Take mesons from a synchrotonTo fix the hellish brew—For proton and electron,That's me—and you.But tell me, dear ProfessorExplain it if you canIf microscopic entitiesAre all that's left of man.Yes, tell me, dear ProfessorExplain it if you pleaseWhy men through countless agesHave believed they're more than these.If our love is but a hormoneAnd our eye an optic lensAnd beauty but an enzymeWhy is homo sapiens?For if Descartes was a donkeyAnd I'm sure you'd have him soYou'll have to rub out not just 'sum'But also 'cogito'. Witty and clever—yes. I am sure hon. Members would wish that so capable and witty a man could join in this debate now. But I assure them that people were irritated that such sentiments were expressed by a Minister for Science. I know that he wishes to make the point that people believe in things beyond the range of science, but in that poem he is addressing himself to the point of view of the old men of his youth; the old men who saw science as something alien to ordinary everyday life, and alien to the outlook of what the noble Lord would describe as a liberal education.

That is not so today but, in any case, it is certainly not the attitude that one expects of a Minister for Science today. When I listened to the Parliamentary Secretary, I almost felt that he was beginning to regret his misspent youth at Cambridge, and thinking, perhaps, that he should have studied science. Whatever his feelings may be on that, there is no doubt that this Government are saddled with an attitude to science which people in industry feel is completely alien to their own.

The Parliamentary Secretary said that the Government should be propagandist rather than executive in scientific matters. He instanced the value of operational research to private firms, but I should like to quote from a letter I received the other day from the President of the Operational Research Society, in which he says: Operational research workers have slowly but surely come to the conclusion that it is at the national level of planning the economy, as well as in the influence the Government has on the strategic decisions about individual industries, that our science has its greatest part to play. In other words, the practitioners do not at all share the hon. Gentleman's point of view.

The wisest words that have been said in this debate so far are those of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison), who described the function of research as being equivalent to that of manure—an earthy phrase that blows away all the myths and prejudices with which people today regard science. We should see science as the start, the initiation, and research in industry as the launching point from which we get a cycle of activity in industry which extends through development and the design and construction of plants, a productive period, and an eventual replacement by some new process, some new industry.

We should apply that idea to every industrial activity today. We should apply it to established industries. We should expect electronics to become obsolete within our own lifetime. Why? Because the stuff will be made by the machines themselves, and be designed by them. We can certainly expect the older industries to grow through their present phase and be replaced, but we cannot expect that to happen if we do not adopt a realistic political attitude to the social consequences of science.

The business of science and industry is essentially a family affair. The sons of miners from Durham come to work at Billingham, designing and inventing processes which mean that the work of their old fathers is no longer required. It is nonsense to turn the work of the sons against the fathers, but that is what we are being forced to do at present by the failure to foresee what is happening.

If we ask the director of a chemical company what he sees in the way of the development of his industry, its effect on local employment and the demand on other industries over the next five or ten years, he will shrug it off as an impossible question to answer. The Government must not allow industry to get away with such a slapdash attitude to present-day problems, but they will if they just go on merely making the polite noises the Parliamentary Secretary made about the application of research. They will find that they have all hell let loose upon them.

Today, the science-based industries are like a rocket a few seconds after ignition, just quivering a few feet off the launching pad, and those of use who work in industry, who know what is going on and feel it in our bones, know that the rate of acceleration really requires much more vigorous action in the fostering of research, in the attack on the strongholds of conservatism in industry, and in the acceptance of social responsibility, than we have from the Government today.

8.18 p.m.

Photo of Mr Basil De Ferranti Mr Basil De Ferranti , Morecambe and Lonsdale

I am glad to have the opportunity to follow the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, West (Dr. Bray). He speaks as a scientific worker. I am not too sure that I agree with him in his rapid writing off of the electronics industry, in which I should now declare an interest, but I agree with the tenor of much that he said. If we could only have more people like him in the House, able to put across to hon. Members something of the excitement, the feeling of acceleration that is undoubtedly there today but which it is difficult for us in the Palace of Westminster to be able fully to understand, they would be doing a very great service.

It is really rather difficult for us in this debate to make up our minds what we are talking about. Science is an enormous subject. It affects every aspect of our lives. There is the scientific method, the scientific way of looking at almost everything. The hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) referred to science as manure but, quite honestly, I do not think that that is quite fair. It will certainly catch and hold people's attention, but it is not strictly accurate.

One can only say that science is the discipline of observation, and the consequent measurement of one's observations. Measurement and observation are not really very suitable subjects for debate in this Chamber. Hon. Members would rapidly go to sleep if we were to spend any time at all on them. As my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke) pointed out, one must make these things human for them to be of interest in this Chamber. But in the language of politicians, the old theme is that industry is hopelessly old-fashioned and something should be done about it.

This subject, which is highly suitable for debate, has aroused a certain interest today. It is something to which I should like particularly to refer. The first point that affects this is something which the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, West touched on; that is, our national attitude towards science. We have, on the one hand—and I think that the hon. Member represents it—a growing scientific generation, the product of technological institutes in which the Government are wisely investing money. This generation feels somewhat frustrated because they feel that their point of view is not really being represented.

On the other hand, we have the sort of imagined forces of prejudice—the centres of conservatism, as the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, West called them—doing all in their power to resist progress and the introduction of the scientific method. I think that the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, West slightly exaggerated the position. Typically, he mentioned the automatic transmission of computer data. But when one comes to look at these things—when the unreasonable forces of conservatism get down to working out the £ s. d.—one finds that it is much better to put one's magnetic tape decks in a motor car and drive them about the country than to install an extremely expensive micro-wave link.

Photo of Dr Jeremy Bray Dr Jeremy Bray , Middlesbrough West

It would seem that the hon. Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale (Mr. de Ferranti) is not completely familiar with all the automatic linkages used in some of his own company's products. Considering, far example, the hon. Member's own field, can he say whether there is any industrialist today—one responsible for a turnover of £ 10 million or more, not a very large sum by the standards of big industry—who has ever written a computer programme?

Photo of Mr Basil De Ferranti Mr Basil De Ferranti , Morecambe and Lonsdale

I can modestly claim to have done that, to some degree, myself. I wonder if the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, West has? Perhaps he has. If so we might get together and compare notes. In any case, thank heavens that these machines are at last beginning to speak English, for this is making it easier for us all.

The first place in which people look to find their views represented is the House of Commons. It is fair to say—and the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, West will discover this after he has spent a little longer here—that science and Parliament have got along quite well together for many years. There has been an institution known as the Parliamentary Scientific Committee in existence for a considerable time and this Committee has done some extraordinarily good work. If the hon. Member is depressed about the attitude of the House of Commons towards science, I urge him to come to some of the Committee's meetings. He will see that the number of hon. Members interested in science and who understand the problems involved is quite large.

The next place one looks to is the Civil Service. I am afraid that it is true, perhaps as a result of the Civil Service Commission's methods—for which it is not to be blamed—that the number of scientific people in the administrative grades is not as great as it should be. This makes it difficult for scientists in Government administration even to speak to the administrative grades and, at the same time, feel that their case is being understood.

Far be it from me to suggest that there should be vastly mare scientists in the administrative grades of the Civil Service, for scientists can be among the worst administrators known. But it is important that all people in the administrative grades of the Civil Service should have an understanding of the simple methods of observation and measurement which are the basis of science. It is no good saying that wage increases have been too great. One must state specifically by how much they have been too great and then someone will listen. It is most important to reduce this kind of qualitative argument and increase the quantitative kind of argument.

The next place one looks to is the Cabinet. I believe that in the present Cabinet we have a number of Ministers who are well aware of all that is involved in the scientific method and who are taking decisions with a scientific bent much more competently than in the past. There is no doubt—and I can see the Bow Group magazines in front of the Treasury Bench— that we have made a number of bad mistakes in the past. For example, we have invested in nuclear power stations which are not economic. Enormous resources—enormous certainly compared with a scheme I seem to remember in Africa for the growing of peanuts—have been put into nuclear power stations which are all likely to be uneconomic compared with the more advanced types of power stations now coming along.

We have spent vast sums on railway modernisation and I doubt whether full quantitative analyses were done to ensure that these vast sums would be wisely spent. However, there seem to be signs that decisions will be taken with the scientific method in mind. For example, the establishment of the National Economic Development Council is an idea of beginning to apply scientific method to the Chancellor's handling of the economy, so that instead of driving the car of the economy by the seat of his pants, he will be given some detailed quantitative information on where to place his decisions.

Of course this information, as with all scientific information, will need to be carefully analysed and people will need to discover the meaning of the figures that are put forward. This all starts, as the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) mentioned, in our teaching establishments. In this connection, there are one or two comments that it is important to make, particularly as my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary will reply.

The universities have had a special relationship with the Treasury and this has, undoubtedly, put them in fairly good stead over the years. Many millions of pounds have been spent on the universities and, despite what anyone says, they are not doing too badly at all. The question of salaries is also important. To same extent university salaries seem somewhat like hon. Members' salaries; they are only fully adequate if the university lecturer or the hon. Member does some outside work as well.

I am not sure that this is not just exactly as it should be. Hon. Members should take outside work, for they are better hon. Members for it. I believe that university lecturers should also take outside work because it enables them to maintain that contact with industry and the world art large which is of fundamental importance to the successful use of our universities in our national life.

What is true for them is also true for the colleges of advanced technology which are gaining a very great reputation indeed in industry. The quality of the sandwich course graduate is extremely high and he has learned a number of things during his course which many university graduates have not learned. The sandwich course graduate has learned, for example, how to get a nut and bolt out of store—quite a difficult operation to perform in many factories. And a little bit of good straightforward low-down cunning can be taught during the six months' period in industry which the more idealistic graduates will never know.

I am not so happy about the new universities and their approach to applied science. I have a feeling that many of the new ones are saying to themselves, "The colleges of advanced technology are being set up to deal with the technologists. Thank heavens, we need not do anything as sordid as applied science and we can get on with the more intellectually exciting tasks, such as history and geography". This would be an unqualified disaster if it were allowed to continue. I ask my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry for Science that when he goes about asking what is going on he should make a particular point of ensuring that the new universities are establishing the best possible faculties of applied science that are to be obtained.

What about this problem of industry? The first thing to understand is that industry, or private industry anyway, by its very terms of reference must do exactly what suits it. Industry must make a profit. If a management appears to be slow in installing some equipment the probable reason is that it simply does not see any opportunities for increasing its profits or improving its competitiveness by installing it. The first task of Government in relation to industry is not to keep standing up, as they do, and complaining about how old-fashioned, ignorant and stupid the average industrialist is, but to set about creating the environment in which industrialists are forced to take the most modern and progressive attitudes and to adopt the most modern and progressive techniques.

There is one thing of overwhelming importance which the Government could now do in this respect. The Chancellor of the Exchequer took a swipe at it in the last Budget but one, but unfortunately did an air shot. I refer to the possibility of what is loosely called a payroll tax. One job which the Minister for Science should be doing is urging upon his Cabinet colleagues, from the scientific point of view, the introduction of a payroll tax. A straight tax which would increase the burden on industry is of course not acceptable, but a tax in which the corollary was a pro rata reduction in Profits Tax on the firm would achieve the effects in which I am interested. For instance, about 6s. 6d. a week per person employed paid by the employer would enable the Government to eliminate entirely that so-called Profits Tax.

I remember once asking a friend of mine in Italy to what he attributed the incredible success of Italian industry, particularly in the north, since the war. He replied, "It is quite simple. Here in Italy we never pay our taxes." There is no doubt that if industry does not pay tax and has more money available it is more likely to invest in advanced scientific equipment. And if industrialists are not only paying reduced taxes on profits but having to pay increased taxes on the payroll it is worth investing more to save man-hours in the factory.

The first reaction generally to this argument is that surely one would put a lot of people out of work. This process of investing in equipment to save labour is the thing which we in this debate are trying to urge industrialists to do, and which we must do if we are to achieve the sort of 4 per cent. growth rates which the National Economic Development Council is now investigating. One puts the tax on the payroll and reduces the tax on profits, and this provides more to invest and more incentive to invest.

I cannot understand why in the last Budget the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not introduce such a tax. I hope that the Financial Secretary will be able to spend a minute or two explaining this when he replies to the debate. I have a feeling that the reason was that he met a good deal of opposition to its introduction, and I cannot but think that he had a number of inefficient companies making representations to him, because it is only if one is inefficient that one has anything to lose by this tax. It is only if one is not making much of a profit that one has anything to lose by it.

Photo of Sir Edward Boyle Sir Edward Boyle , Birmingham Handsworth

I may be a little short of time later, so, perhaps, I may reply to my hon. Friend on that point now. Last year's proposal was for something rather different, for a surcharge on the employer's contribution. My right hon. and learned Friend decided not to ask for this proposal to be accepted again this year. As regards what is conventionally known as a payroll tax, it has always been recognised that this would involve certain very important consequentials. If we embarked on such a tax, we should have to consider the whole range of industrial taxation, Profits Tax, and the like. My right hon. and learned Friend has not come to a final conclusion on the matter. As he has said, he thinks that it requires further study. All he has done this year is just not to ask again for approval of last year's rather different proposal, which was just for a surcharge on the employer's contribution.

Photo of Mr Basil De Ferranti Mr Basil De Ferranti , Morecambe and Lonsdale

I quite understand the point which my hon. Friend makes. I was aware that that was the position and that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was still looking at it. That is why I thought that it would not be inappropriate to add a few comments from the scientific point of view on the possibility of introducing such a tax. I hope that my hon. Friend will convey what I have been saying to his right hon. and learned Friend. Perhaps it will swing the balance in favour of the introduction of the tax. Undoubtedly, it is these general measures which do the most good in getting a scientific outlook in industry. We can talk till the cows come home about all the various ways of improving this, that and the other but, unless we have the basic conditions right, we simply do not get what we want.

There is another basic condition which is worrying for many scientists and engineers in this country today. Obviously, we cannot afford much of a space research effort. It is galling to sit by, as one did last night and the night before, to watch the progress of the Telstar experiment and to know that the Americans are doing it all. We just have our little receiver at Goonhilly Downs, which, I am glad to say, worked well, but what a pity it is that we could not have been pioneers in this great effort in the same way as we always have been pioneers in the past. We cannot afford it, but what we can do is to work for the formation of international groupings which will enable us to regain a pioneering lead or be associated with an economic unit which is capable of taking a pioneering lead in these most important new developments.

One talks to colleagues in the House of Commons and one mentions the subject of space research and the Telstar experiments, and how dull it all seems. How incredibly unexciting and uninteresting a subject for Parliamentary debate. But these are the modern equivalent of the explorations of Columbus, the modern equivalent of the exciting advances which people really did become enthusiastic about in centuries gone by. Unless we can learn what these things are about, unless we can catch the excitement, this country will have failed and will go down as an unsuccessful and disappointing flash in the pan of world history.

Of course, the Government can do a great deal to help. I have tried to show how, by imposing a tax, the Government could create the right environment. We have heard from most speakers that the Government ought to spend more money. One of my suggestions would enable them to use a new source of revenue. There are certain specific things which the Government can do which act as a catalyst, to use a scientific term. There are the development contracts which my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary mentioned. Reasonable progress is being made with them. The hon. and learned Member for Kettering asked why we did not go faster. It is not so easy to go faster when one actually comes to the problems involved. As I know from a little experience of these matters, there are all sorts of difficulties. The various people in the Departments concerned have been working very hard and have reaped a certain amount of success. I believe that they will reap more in the months ahead.

Undoubtedly, the research associations do valuable work, although I am not sure that I go so far as my hon. Friend in suggesting that the chairman of every company should be knocking at the doors of the research associations. I imagine that the research associations would be rather fed up if they did because, to put it frankly, the Chairmen of many companies are not really the right sort of people to take part in technical discussions. My hon. Friend should not expect too much of the research associations. Undoubtedly, they have a most useful rôle to fill, but it is a secondary and rather uninspiring role, a role for which they do not receive very much thanks.

If I do nothing else tonight, I want to thank the many people who are practically concerned with the research associations for the good but uninspiring work which they do. I think that we have made a fair number of mistakes in the last 40 or 50 years due to a lack of scientific knowledge throughout all sections of our society. I have mentioned some, like atomic energy and the railways. But now we seem to be on the right lines. We have the National Economic Development Council, we have signed the European Space Research Organisation Treaty and, most dramatic of all and more important than anything else we have ever done, we have made application to join the European Economic Community. These things are indications, perhaps results, of the technological revolution in which we live.

I believe that we have in the Government a body of men who are cognisant of what is going on, who are prepared to view things from a scientific angle, and who will, if anybody can, lead us into the El Dorado that is undoubtedly there if only we have the guts to go and get to it.

8.42 p.m.

Photo of Mr Sydney Irving Mr Sydney Irving , Dartford

Perhaps the most fascinating part of the debate was when the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke) dashed to the rescue of the Government and of the Parliamentary Secretary in particular. We all know that it is an activity on which he does not spend very much time as a rule and, in view of his remarks about fuddy-duddies and his earlier forays in this field, the Parliamentary Secretary may well believe that his support on this occasion is perhaps the kiss of death rather than the support he would like to have.

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) put a straight question to the Parliamentary Secretary: what does his Office do? The Parliamentary Secretary worked on the thesis that the less one did the mote marks one was entitled to expect. I listened with great care. He said that his noble Friend is interested in many subjects. He said that he talked to some of his right hon. Friends, and the Parliamentary Secretary waxed so enthusiastic about his noble Friend that he said that on certain occasions he is immensely interested in some of the things that he does.

I cannot find, except in his statement that he supported ate bright boys, any positive proposal for bringing about the expansion of scientific knowledge in industry. The Parliamentary Secretary by his speech might have succeeded in getting a Ph.D., but he did not answer any of the urgent questions which we on this side of the House want to know about. We want to know what initiative the Minister is taking and how it differs from the functions carried out by the Lord President of the Council. We do not believe that propaganda is enough. Exhortation will eventually fail. What steps then is his noble Friend prepared to take?

Some of us in the debate last year drew attention to the Report of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy. We drew attention to the complacency of its estimates on the supply and demand for manpower, on the limitations of its comparison in financial terms with the United States effort, from which it derives a great deal of satisfaction, and to the inadequacy of the machinery available to the Minister for Science for dealing with these problems. Nothing that we have heard since, and certainly nothing that we have heard today, has made us any the happier about that state of affairs.

The hon. Member for the Isle of Ely complained about our making comparisons with the United States and other countries. What galls hon. Members opposite is that in the past five or ten years the comparisons and league tables have been so unfavourable. They have no hesitation in quoting them if ever they can find one that is favourable to their cause. In the last few months there have been two reports which show clearly the position in relation to our effort compared with the United States. First, there was the F. B. I. survey, Industrial Research in Manufacturing Industry, 1959–60, and an article in the May issue of the National Institute's Economic Review Research and Development: A Comparison between British and American Industry. The point that emerges clearly from these two statements is that on any relevant criterion American effort is very much greater than ours.

America spends five times as much as we do on research. This means that their expenditure is three times as large per employee and, despite what the bon. Member for Ely said in an intervention, he will see from page 21 of the Review that in terms of the percentage net output the American effort is twice as great as ours. If we compare the 350 largest American firms with the 350 largest British firms, we find that the American effort in this sphere is five times greater than ours. In terms of manpower, it has five times the number of qualified scientists that Britain can dispose. This means that there are thirteen scientists and engineers for every 1,000 men working in American industry compared with five in Britain.

Only when we consider the return on investment do we see the significance of some of these figures. The 350 largest firms in America employ about 5,000 people each whereas the 350 largest firms in this country employ about 2,000 people. Because of the scale, any given expenditure in the two countries will obviously provide bigger returns in relation to the American effort than it wild in terms of the British effort. On this basis, a large country like America does not need as much research in relation to the real output of its industry as a small country like ours. There is also the relatively higher cost of development in smaller firms which must work against Britain and give America a better competitive position than that which we can enjoy.

Another interesting and significant feature brought out by the Report was the broad association which was discovered between growth and research activity. Clearly, if we wish to expand we can do so only by greater expenditure on research. Invention and innovation are vital to our development: a condition of our expansion and, I believe, of our very survival is that we ensure that research expenditure is much greater.

Perhaps we cannot hope to rival America, but for a country which needs to expand and to develop its exports to survive we can compete only if we make better use of our smaller resources. Therefore, we need first a much greater concentration of effort. We need a greater expenditure on our research associations and on the National Research and Development Corporation. I believe that the Minister for Science's Department, properly organised, has a part to play in this. We need to continue the trend of mergers between our research associations and to have more research agreements between private firms. I believe that we should be extending what has been taking place in perhaps a limited way, namely, the new policy of the D.S.I.R. of placing larger civil research contracts with firms in industry.

To take research associations, the Parliamentary Secretary said that, for the £6 million invested, industry gets a return of £100 million.

Photo of Mr Denzil Freeth Mr Denzil Freeth , Basingstoke

I quoted that as being the opinion of Dr. Gill, Chairman of the Committee of Directors of Research Associations.

Photo of Mr Sydney Irving Mr Sydney Irving , Dartford

We can put this in perspective by realising that half of the more than fifty research associations have a total annual income of less than £100,000 a year, much less than the annual expenditure by a large British firm, and that only nine research associations in this country have incomes of more than £250,000. Not one of our research associations has an income half as great as that of the largest American firm. Obviously, our research associations do not have adequate resources for development work, and, despite the efforts over the years, for which, I thought, the hon. Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale (Mr. de Ferranti) sought to give too little credit, the total share of the research associations in industrial research has been declining.

In the F.B.I. Report it was made clear that we have at the moment a standing vacancy of 13 per cent. in our industrial research and development departments. It said that there was no doubt that a substantial number of research projects were being held up for lack of staff and pointed to the fact that no single effort could make such a big change in performance as an increase in the number of scientists and engineers available.

Shortly after the last debate the National Foundation for Science in the United States, which advises the President, published a report, "Investment in Scientific Progress, 1961–70". This was a fresh examination of the relationship between national prosperity and scientific endeavour. Its main conclusions were, first of all, that scientific talents were scarce resources which must be nurtured and developed at all costs if the nation was to secure its full well being. It said that there must be a steady increase in the numbers of young people becoming scientists if the nation was merely to maintain the status quo and that it would be only if there were an increased effort on the part of the Americans that they would be able to double their numbers by 1970.

This is in marked contrast to the complacency of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy, some of whose statistics have been questioned in the New Scientist as being slapdash. Its estimates of the demands for scientific manpower are very questionable indeed, because the Council bases its estimates on what is said was the tendency of large-scale industry not to employ more scientists and technicians in relation to total employment once it got to a certain size. This is not true, certainly of I.C.I., which has a good record of using scientists and technicians, and continues to increase the percentage of scientists and technicians it employs. To my mind, this assumption of the Advisory Council is a hazardous one.

The American report also said that the target should be that every young person who shows the desire and the capacity to become a scientist should be assured of the opportunity to do so. It also reported that at the present stage 2 per cent. of the United States' gross national product spent on research, excluding defence, is not adequate to their needs. As our Advisory Council based its previous figures on this assessment of the American effort.

I believe we want a new look at this whole problem, for if this is true of America, with its great natural resources, how much more true is it of Britain, which is an over-populated island, which has to import something like half its food, which has very limited natural resources, and only its own natural talents to depend on. And yet, where the Americans are expanding their effort, we seem to do exactly the opposite, because whenever we have been in any trouble it seems that the first cuts in expenditure are on education and on scientific research.

Last year we had the example of the £1·2 million on the two radiotelescopes being held up—and that was in a field in which we had made an outstanding contribution, and that cut could have damaged the lead which we had. Then, in education. we had cuts in minor works which in my constituency held up at both grammar schools the provision of much needed laboratory accommodation. But we also had the Government's strange conduct in connection with the quinquennial grant to universities. After asking the advice of the University Grants Committee on the cost of providing 151,000 places by 1966 they asked the universities to provide 150,000 places for less money even than the University Grants Committee itself had recommended. I think that at least two universities have said that it is impossible to increase the numbers as they wished to do and as the Government intended that they should. Incidentally, the Association of University Teachers, in looking at the figure of 170,000, draws a comparison with the provision of the Scottish Education Department, which is proposing to provide 34,000 places by 1976. The traditional ratio between Scotland and England and Wales has always been six to one. If Scotland is right in this case, then only three years after the target of 170,000 has been achieved, we shall need at least 200,000 places. Scotland is going ahead much faster than we are, and leaving us trailing behind. If the Scottish estimate is right we ought to revise our figures.

I want to refer to the arguments about the quinquennial grant. For the previous quinquennial grant the average annual increase in students was 4,000 but the average increase in the grant was £4·5 million. If we take the target of 170,000 to be achieved by the 1970s, it means an annual increase of 8,000 students, but the new quinquennial grant provides for an average increase in grants of only £5·6 million. The Government are seeking to get twice the number of students for only just a little more than the cost of the previous grants, and anyone who knows their arithmetic knows that this cannot be done.

May I give some other factors which make the quinquennial grant figure irrelevant to our needs? The grants were announced last year, but last year the increase in building costs alone was between 12½ and 20 per cent. A number of other factors erode the amount to be provided and make it impossible for the target to be achieved. For instance, the rising costs of all the things which need to be purchased, were estimated by the Vice-Chancellors' Special Committee as £4½7 million from the time the estimates were given to the University Grants Committee to the time the grants become operative. In addition, the figure includes a sum of £1 million previously paid by D.S.I.R. and now to come out of the grant.

The new grants which have been approved have also to provide for the normal yearly salary increases which have to be paid over the period. The new universities will require a much bigger proportion of the grants than the older universities, and this makes it much more difficult for the programme to be achieved on these figures. There are a number of other factors which erode the figure which has been approved and make it impossible for the programme to be achieved in the sum of money available.

The necessary expansion in development and research cannot be achieved under the present arrangements under the Ministry for Science. It requires a Department which has overall supervision of the whole of our research activity—a department with its own staff and its own estimates, capable of encouraging, co-ordinating and concentrating our efforts to a much greater degree than has ever been done before. Today we have been discussing means not only to our future prosperity but to our very survival. This expansion of our programme is the minimum price which we must pay for keeping up in the modern world. I believe that our time is running out and that if we do not take a more realistic view of our needs before very long, we may fall irretrievably behind.

8.59 p.m.

Photo of Sir Austen Albu Sir Austen Albu , Edmonton

I share the disappointment which has been expressed in the Committee at the poor attendance for this important debate. I feel that the House of Commons is not really in tune with public thought and feeling outside. This is especially so among that growing class of young scientists, engineers and technicians who are beginning, belatedly, to come out from our educational institutions and training schemes. I was, however, gratified that some of them were able to make speeches in this Committee today. I hope that we see more of them in future.

The importance of the subject to the House of Commons and to Parliament in general arises from the growing size of the problems raised by developments in science and technology, problems which are posed for Parliaments and Governments throughout the world.

In the current issue of Dœdalus, the American quarterly, Raymond Aron has written that rulers of our era have to resolve three types of problems which did not exist (at least to the same degree) in the past and which are 'scientific', but in three different ways. The first category is that of properly economic problems: what must be done when a recession begins or when gold reserves begin to diminish? The decision must be made by the rulers, but it requires intellectual training.The second category of problems originates in the natural sciences. In what direction should scientific research be directed? How should available funds be allocated among different institutions? Given the actual or probable costs of different sources of power in a few years, what programme should be adopted for thermo-hydraulic of atomic power stations? What armament programme will promote over a five-year period a maximum of security or, if war breaks out, the best chance for survival.The third category is that of the problems of diplomacy. Should one sign, or not sign, an agreement with the Soviet Union on the cessation of nuclear testing, even if the means of inspection do not guarantee that the agreement will be respected". In these matters, it is for the Government or a responsible Minister to make the decision. The advice which they receive from scientists, as from others, is frequently conflicting. It is obvious that no Minister—or civil servant for that matter—can be expert in all these fields. What there must be, however, is a suitable organisation of scientific advice and a degree of professionalism within the Civil Service to ensure that the best decisions are taken. It is our criticism on this side of the Committee that that organisation does not exist and that the amateur tradition of our Civil Service and of much of British industry is a handicap to the best use of scientific knowledge, particularly in the Government.

The problems proposed by Aron were largely practical problems: the material of the applied natural sciences or of the social sciences. I have no objection to approaching this matter in a materialistic way, because I happen to believe that the democracies will depend for maintaining their democracies, and we in this country for maintaining our liberal traditions, on the maintenance of an expanding economy. I do not believe that this is possible unless we have much greater application of science in our general daily life, particularly in industry.

I do not like the distinction which is often drawn between pure and applied science, with the implication that purity has some merit that the application does not have. The truth, which has been mentioned during the debate—it was referred to by the Parliamentary Secretary—is that much basic research is done with an objective in view. Equally, much applied research or development uncovers the need for basic research.

When people have said to me that the Soviet Union cannot conduct research seriously because the Government controls it, that is a lot of nonsense. Of course, the Government order a sputnik, but what happens then? The man who is in charge—the President of the Academy of Sciences—says, "Very well. If you want a sputnik, I want so many billion roubles and so many thousand men." By the time one gets to the bottom of the pyramid, one is down to people doing pure research, which no Government control at the bottom. Therefore, the connection between pure and applied research is often very close.

In any event, much fundamental research consists of nothing but the repetition of dreary experiments, while in engineering development one needs a high degree of inspired imagination. There is a continuum between fundamental research and engineering development.

One of our problems is that in this country, as Sir Willis Jackson has pointed out, some scientists have criticised as inferior the translation of scientific investigation into engineering achievement. Yet it is on this that our whole economic future depends. I think we can see the results of this attitude in one or two things going on in the administration of science at the present time. I believe it may well be that the cause of the troubles of the Atomic Energy Authority at present is that the policy has been controlled too much by scientists and not enough by technologists and industrialists. I am shocked that the Government should have set up a committee to study the organisation of civil science which contains not a single technologist. It is true that two of the membership of five are distinguished scientists—they are not necessarily very young but they are distinguished and they are both pure scientists—but there is not a single technologist. The balance seems to be quite wrong.

In the Report of the Federation of British Industries, to which reference has frequently been made in the debate, Professor Williams draws attention to the apparently higher proportion of basic research being carried out in British industry compared with American industry, although the article in the National Institute Economic Review to which my hon. Friend referred points out that the research expenditure of American industries in real terms is nearly three times per employee and twice as a percentage of net output compared with British industry. Professor Williams suggests that it may well be the result of our system of education which is biased against the training of technologists and development engineers. This seems to me to emphasise the need to press on vigorously with the expanding of not only the engineering departments of universities but also the colleges of advanced technology which are beginning to make—it is still very small—a growing contribution to our scientific and engineering manpower.

I am afraid that it is a fact that the traditions of our engineering education and training are, or were until recently, out of date, and they need changing. I think that at last this is going to happen and that we shall find ourselves approaching nearer to the standards of our competitors overseas. In developing our own systems we shall develop systems which are original and we shall also be able to take the best of the others which have gone before.

Above all, this finding about the attitude towards technologists in British industry and in our society may well point to what the Parliamentary Secretary referred to as one of the main problems of British industry, which is not the inadequacy of research and development, though that may be inadequate, but the lack of a scientific attitude in management itself. The great need in British industry is for innovation—new products and processes. In the world of the future we cannot hope to compete on price. We must, of course, compete on price as well, but this is not the way in which we shall be able to hold up our heads in world competition. We must compete on originality of products and quality.

Unfortunately, in the most rapidly growing sector of world trade—the manufacture of machinery—our industries have been backward in research and development and the employment of graduate engineers and scientists, particularly at top management level.

Professor Williams quotes figures showing that machinery as a proportion of world exports bas grown from 8 per cent. at the end of the nineteenth century to 25 per cent. today. We have maintained about the same proportion in our exports, but in view of this country's past dependence on declining industries—coal and cotton—this may not be enough. Also growing competition and the development of the manufacture of simple machines in the developing countries means that we must continuously keep technologically ahead.

The Department of Scientific and Industrial Research through its Economic Committee, has produced two reports on industries and has drawn attention to their inadequacies. I do not accept the argument which is frequently used that these inquiries, the publicity which they receive and the discussion are harmful to those industries. I believe that reverse is the case, that these inquiries, reports and the discussions about them in the House and outside have stimullated industries to action they would not have taken if it had not been for the reports. But much more remains to be done by Government.

I turn first of all to the research associations, about which so much has been said today. They vary, of course, in size and in the sort of work they do. In the case of some of them their work is much too much in the nature of trouble-shooting. I believe that they should be concerned largely with basic research, certainly on problems which are connected with their industries, but it should be objective research of a kind which no single firm is willing to undertake or which overlaps separate industries.

To do this they need a stable income from the Government. As has already been said directors have to spend too much time shuffling around seeking finance, particularly towards the end of each quinquennium. The present level of Government contribution is pitifully small.

I do not myself very much like the idea of earmarked grants, except perhaps for information and liaison work. This is extremely important. The whole problem of communicating the results of scientific research and development into industry is absolutely fundamental to the work of research associations. I am wondering if we make enough use of television for this purpose of introducing new ideas and getting industry to co-operate so that new inventions which have been scientifically developed are quickly taken up by industry. I believe that these research associations should be allowed to do sponsored research, but only on the condition that the director of the association feels that the proposal fits in with his general programme, in much the same way as a university professor will accept sponsored research if it fits in with the programme of his Department. I do not believe that the Government have begun to use the development contract idea at all. We have been told that there are two contracts let, and that a third is being considered. The problem will become of increasing urgency and importance if we get a disarmament agreement, with a consequent reduction in expenditure on armaments research and development, which may well take place in the near future, as we all hope. There is need to have plans for dealing with that situation well in advance. We can already see the sort of thing which will happen in the aircraft industry, and in the Atomic Energy Authority's production plants, where we have had a reduction of the requirements on research and development without any plans for the use of our resources, which have only recently been expanded.

Since the war, many, and probably most, of our technological advances have been as overspill from defence, and this has particularly been so in the cases of electronics and in the miniaturisation of components, many of which are used in research. I saw myself at the Central Electricity Research Laboratories a fascinating example of this—a tiny potted transmitter transmitting the signals from strain gauges on a large turbine wheel to an aerial which was round the stator, and the scientists were collecting information in this way. I think the stress on the turbine wheel was over 7,000 G, which is considerably more than the astronauts were subjected to. This is an example of very useful research in a practical field of design of large turbine wheels, which is an overspill from missile research and development.

Other fields of advance are atomic energy, chemistry, metallurgy and computers, all of which are largely overspill from defence research. It is essential to keep more and more of these men working on these schemes together, and one can understand that these teams must have some objective for their research. Defence research succeeds because it is aimed at producing hardware. What we need is organisational machinery for identifying objects for development and research contracts. I suggest that at the present time the machinery for identifying these objects is quite inadequate.

What we need is a Technological Development Council, which would be comprised mostly of engineers with a good scientific background, and which should have the job of seeking out projects suitable for contract. As I understand it, the present arrangement is that projects are put up individually to the Treasury, and individually turned down. This leads to very great frustration among the many scientists and technologists responsible for vetting and putting up these projects. At least, this is what I am told by the people who are dealing with them.

These projects will frequently be in very advanced fields which will require a very great deal of money. One of the features of modern science is that this equipment is very expensive. The physicists need larger and larger machines to smash smaller and smaller particles. Expensive machines are also needed in space research, for supersonic aircraft and on marine nuclear propulsion, on which we had an extremely interesting speech from the hon. and gallant Member for Harrow, East (Commander Courtney), and in the generation of electricity from heat and so on. These are all fields in which the costs are high and in which the resources required are much larger than those which can be afforded by any single company.

As has been pointed out, advance can be held back by companies operating separately, particularly in the exchange of information. On the other hand, if the Government support a joint effort between companies, they are helping to create a monopoly. This puts us in considerable difficulty.

I believe that in such cases the Government should often consider setting up a separate company in which they should share ownership and the proceeds of research. After all, the Government have accepted the principle of joint ownership with nationalised undertakings, and I do not see why they should not do so in this case. Where there has to be research and development—in machine tools, for example—I do not see why the Government should shut themselves out from acting in conjunction with private firms.

I know that this conflicts with Tory prejudice, but it is in line with the Labour Party's policy for the participation of Government in industry. That prejudice is one of the reasons, I believe, which is holding the Government back from proceeding further with development projects along these lines. I should like to see much greater use made by the Government and the nationalised industries—which are such big buyers—of their power to enforce suppliers to undertake research development and improve the technical quality of their managements. I should like to think that this was originally my idea, for I mentioned it in a broadcast, but it was also mentioned in our last debate by the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones).

I was sorry that the right hon. Member was not here. We missed him in this debate very much. We were expecting fireworks from him. The hon. Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale (Mr. de Ferranti) did not provide the fireworks which we had expected after this publication which we have all read with such interest. The idea of using the Government and nationalised industries to enforce suppliers to become more scientific minded is one which the Government should consider.

I believe that what is needed is that on the board of each nationalised industry the Government should ensure that there is a good, young applied scientist or scientific engineer. In the past, although similar appointees to these boards may have been good, they have not always been young. But nevertheless there is considerable difference in a nationalised industry where such appointments exist. The results in the industry itself and among its suppliers can be seen. I believe that the nationalised industries were slow to develop research and development departments, but we must remember that they took over very little. However, they are rapidly expanding now.

I want now to come back to the problems of planning the general strategy for scientific advance and the machinery for its implementation and control. But I will first answer some of the rather silly attacks made on this side of the Committee by hon. Members opposite who should know better. No one on this side of the Committee advocates that all research grants and research should somehow be centralised in the Government. That would be nonsense. We have made our position clear before, and I will try to make it clearer.

The point is that the Government provide a very large part of the money, and the Government really, in the end, centralise. The question is: where is the centralisation to be and how are the decisions to be taken? This is not to say that they are not taken now. We know that they are taken. At the moment they are taken by the Treasury without adequate advice and proper consideration.

The question of the control of scientific advance is perhaps becoming almost as important as its stimulation. It is not only that we have seen the development of extraordinarily dangerous scientific ideas which have changed the face of the world but that we are likely to see more in the next few years. The advances now taking place in biology are getting to be as exciting as anything that has taken place in physics in the last 25 years.

We are on the threshold of understanding the meaning of life itself. Although this may have some extraordinarily valuable results—such as in the understanding and cure of cancer—it also has implications in terms of the extension of human power which are revolutionary and could be frightening. I do not believe that I am exaggerating in saying this. I think that, well in advance, one must study and consider the implications of such advances so that one is prepared for them. We have had the development of new chemicals, not only medical drugs but chemicals for economic use in agriculture and industry. A chemist today needs to add only one carbon atom to an existing molecule and he does not know what he will produce. These things are being turned out in the laboratories at an enormous rate. It is important that we should have proper machinery for investigating and controlling new developments. I do not wish to be alarmist about this—they do not all get on the market—but there have been unfortunate incidents. There was one recently, and there have been many others in the last few years.

Photo of Sir Henry Legge-Bourke Sir Henry Legge-Bourke , Isle of Ely

I hope that the hon. Member is not claiming complete originality for this proposition. I think he would agree, as Chairman of the Parliamentary Scientific Committee, that the Minister for Science is fully aware of the likelihood of having to develop this matter of biological research.

Photo of Sir Austen Albu Sir Austen Albu , Edmonton

No, I regret to say I found on one occasion that one of the speakers was complacent and the other clearly said—I shall not mention their names, they are both Civil Servants—that there were not sufficient research resources for him to be able to study the result of materials to be used in industry.

Let me come back to the question of centralisation. Few would want central administration of the detailed allocation of all scientific resources. But a large proportion comes from the Government at present, mainly in the defence field, but increasingly in the civil, and it is essential that the Minister should have a Department equipped with scientific advice to allocate the resources between the main divisions. The Treasury is not a suitable body for this job. Apparently the Government do not consider it a suitable body to plan the economy and they have set up another one. But it is not a suitable body to plan scientific expenditure.

Under the present arrangement, finance officers of the various research bodies put up separate projects to the Treasury without the advice of scientists, which seems to me completely wrong. A body like D.S.I.R. ought to receive a block grant to do with as it liked on the same principle as the University Grants Committee and other research councils. The Minister should be directly responsible for all major scientific expenditure including that of the Atomic Energy Authority, the three research councils, the Nature Conservancy and the new technological development council which I have suggested. I believe that in addition there should be two new research councils. One for university fundamental research grants and one for the social sciences. We all welcome the small grant that the Government are about to make for the humanities on the recommendation of the British Association, and we are looking forward to hearing what they are to do to assist the social sciences. On that they have reserved their view.

The Minister should be responsible for research and development and, as has been suggested by the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green, some sections of the Board of Trade as well. In view of the close connection between military and civil research, the Minister should at least chair a joint committee of his Department and the research departments of the Services and the Ministry of Aviation so as to ensure that defence does not get more than its fair share of research resources or waste what it does get, and to ensure that there is no unnecessary overlapping in the utilisation of resources whether in the defence departments or in the civil research establishments. The question is how should such a Department, a proper Ministry for Science—really a central advisory body for Government and science—be staffed? Obviously it cannot contain within it scientists capable of advising on all problems. The truth is that often one scientist does not know what another scientist is talking about. A distinguished scientist told me the other day that in order to find out what was happening in disciplines other than his own he read a popular weekly scientific paper. It is obviously not the scientist quascientist, although I think there should be more scientists in the administrative class of the Civil Service. Equally, members of the department ought to be better equipped than the majority of our administrators are today.

I am interested in some very good suggestions made by Sir Eric Ashby in the same number of Dœdalus to which I have referred. The sort of course he suggested would be designed to help the civil servant as an administrator, with whatever educational background, first, to understand the way in which scientists think and work and, secondly, to understand the relationship between craftsmen and technicians and scientists, the use of statistics and, in particular, of probability theory, and to understand how science is organised.

These are extremely interesting suggestions. I do not know whether in staff colleges arrangements of this kind exist. He also suggests for more advanced people the holding of seminars for scientists and administrators not trained in science to discuss problems in which there is a scientific content so that they can get to know each other's minds. If the administrative staff needs strengthening, so does the machinery far obtaining the scientific advice from which the administrative choices have to be made.

In the United States the President has a Special Assistant for Science, a Science Advisory Committee and a Federal Council for Science and Technology, but even those have come under criticism for having too small staffs to be able to fulfil their mission of planning, developing and encouraging new fields of scientific advance. How much weaker is our machinery. All the Government have is a scientific council which advises the Minister, who himself has practically no department of his own. This body is inadequately equipped to perform this important function. The members are part-time and meet once a month. There is no scientific core or permanent body. I suggest that there must be a core at least of scientists who work half-time or maybe full-time and technologists who work half-time or full-time and are members for three or four years. It should not be more than three or four years. I agree with what has been said about mobility. There should be a period of office.

I know all the difficulties about this, difficulties about pensions and other things, but we must overcome the problem of mobility in the various places in which scientists are used. After all, this is just an administrative problem. In getting the best form of advice, it is essential to work out arrangements to ensure the mobility of scientists and technologists between universities and industry and in the Government service, As my hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, West (Dr. Bray) said in an interesting speech, this applies in industry itself. "Neddy" needs a very strong scientific and technological component to study the relationship between the resources devoted to research and development and economic expansion.

I am beginning to wonder whether Parliament itself should not play a larger part if Governments are to be stimulated to action and the country informed and educated about what is being done and what needs to be done. We have the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, but our resources are extremely limited and none of us as members and officers of the Committee would claim more than that it makes a small contribution to this problem. I wonder if it would be constitutionally shocking to suggest that we should set up a permament Select Committee on the lines of the Select Committee on Estimates or the Select Committee on Nationalised Industries. which could continually examine scientific research and technological development so that the House could be better informed and the public better educated. It is because we on this side believe that the Government are so handicapped by their philosophy and background that they are incapable of making the changes that are needed that we shall vote against them tonight.

In these matters, one is in difficulty. One does not want to be personal, but, after all, we have to remember that the Government's attitude towards this problem must be related to those whom they appoint and their eligibility for the appointments. When the Minister for Science was first appointed to his post, I believe that he was ringing his bell for the Tory Party—[Horn. MEMBERS! "No."] If he was not Minister for Science, he was Lord President of the Council and had such responsibility for science as at that time existed. The Minister —whom we all like and would wish to see back again in this Chamber—does little but make philosophical speeches about his job. They are very interesting speeches, but one cannot go on making philosophical speeches and not ultimately come to some practical end. That, we suggest, he has not done.

We welcomed the appointment of the Parliamentary Secretary. The hon. Gentleman is amiability itself and has applied himself diligently to his task, but I am sure that it is not a task in which he was originally interested. He may have become interested, and may become more interested, but at the time of his appointment science was not something about which he felt passionately, and I suggest that it is probably only since his appointment that he has really become aware of its importance.

The truth is that we feel that neither the Minister for Science nor the Parliamentary Secretary has any fire in his belly. They have no real and passionate feeling for science. They regard it as a rather dreary necessity which impinges on their arts background and general cultural background, and to which, somehow, they have to pay lip service because they are told to by the Cabinet. The Cabinet have passed the job to them, and they make the best show they can of it, but it is no good just making speeches on scientific philosophy, or acting as a sort of public relations officer for the research associations.

That is not enough. We need a completely new attitude in the Government towards scientific advance and administration, and we shall not get it from the present set-up. The truth is that Ministers, including those who are supposed to be responsible far these very important subjects, do, in fact, to use a phrase used by one of their own back-bench critics, look back in languor on times past, not with enthusiasm to the future. We believe that it is time to have a change, and I think that the country outside is beginning to recognise that we shall not make the sort of scientific progress we need as long as this Government remain in office.

9.33 p.m.

Photo of Sir Edward Boyle Sir Edward Boyle , Birmingham Handsworth

With much that the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu) said earlier I find myself in considerable agreement, but with regard to what he has just said I must, as one who has been a member of the Government and has served on many of the same Committees as my noble Friend the Minister for Science and my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, tell the hon. Gentleman that it is not true to say that either of them looks on science—as I think the phrase was—as a dreary necessity added to their arts background. That is not true, and it is not the way in which my noble Friend approaches this subject.

I believe that science and technology, and their application, are fundamental for our economic growth and, if one wants to achieve a steady rate of economic growth over the years, one must have a society well attuned to innovation—a society that will accept technological change. To a large extent, I believe that it is a habit of mind, whether or not one recognises the need, not merely for dramatic innovations but for a steady rate of innovation over a very wide field. It is just as important in the field of building or, say, of traffic engineering as in that of technology.

I think that this belief in innovation applies to commerce as well as to industry. Quite obviously, it is right at the present moment that we should be developing, for example, new techniques in retail trade, and all this belief in innovation is surely the more important when one recalls that the size of our working population has become, and is likely to remain, relatively stable. We must, therefore, believe in innovation and recognise the need for change all along the line.

It is one of the Government's main jobs to facilitate this process of change. I shall point out one example to show how very much aware the Government are of this. Yesterday my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland made an important statement about the pits.

Photo of Sir Edward Boyle Sir Edward Boyle , Birmingham Handsworth

The hon. Member says disastrous, but from the point of view of innovation and technical change it is important to recognise the element of opportunity involved in the large-scale shift of industry in any country. On the same day, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour—and this is a point I particularly wish the Committee to bear in mind—rightly announced, by way of a Written Answer, that he was increasing the training allowances for men aged 21 and over at Government training centres. That is exactly the way in which the Government should facilitate that process of change which is important all along the line.

Another point which I wish to make clear at the outset is this. It is of the highest importance that a sufficient proportion of our scientific effort should be devoted to economic purposes. We must not have too big a proportion of our research effort devoted to what one might call non-economic purposes. I am the last person to say that over the whole economy there should be no room for social service expenditure where the economic criteria are not present. We must devote a sufficient proportion of our scientific effort to making our economy more efficient. A question we need all the time to ask ourselves is, "Are we using our scientists and technologists in a way which will promote economic growth?"

I rather agree with the hon. Member for Edmonton about not drawing too sharp a line between pure and applied science. Except, possibly, for the theory of numbers and mathematical logic, I am not at all sure that an absolutely pure science is in existence which has no relation whatever to the real world. While we need all the time to push back the frontiers of knowledge, we also want to consider just where the applied research should be applied and to what parts of the economy it should be devoted.

I must comment on universities because this is something in which, as a junior Treasury Minister, I bear some special responsibility to the House of Commons. The hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) raised this matter earlier. It is important to remember that it is at the universities where most, though not all, of our scientists are trained and where many of them work. It is important to remember, too, that Government support for university education falls into three distinct parts; grants for capital, which includes not only building but also equipment, recurrent grants for overheads like salaries, and student awards.

Regarding student awards, from next autumn these will be substantially increased and the increases extend not only to undergraduates but also to research students, to many of whom awards are made by D.S.I.R. I am not sure that the Committee realises just how greatly we are increasing the total of student awards. If one considers what was spent in 1957–58 and considers the cost to public funds of awards to students in university and comparable courses and to postgraduates, one finds that the figure that year was £23·2 million. By 1961 it had risen, to £33·2 million. This year the original estimate was £41·2 million but, in the light of the new rates that have recently been introduced, the figure will rise to £48 million. It will be £60 million by 1966–67 and this shows that there has been a very rapid increase in the value of student grants aver the period of a few years.

Regarding recurrent grants, as the Committee knows, these are normally announced for five years ahead but that does not mean that they remain exactly at the figure's announced at the outset of the quinquennium, because when salaries, the biggest single item in this part of the bill, go up, the recurrent grant goes up, too. In 1956 the figure announced for last year, 1961–62, was £39 million, but in fact the Exchequer paid £49½ million. Last March, the recurrent grants for the new quinquennium were announced as £56 million rising to £76½ million. Already those figures are higher owing to the recent increase—I know that it was considered too modest an increase in many quarters —in staff salaries and, as the Committee knows, staff salaries are to be reviewed next year and the whole of university finance in two years' time.

As the Committee knows very well, the Government, having regard to the other calls on our resources, did not feel able to make available the full measure of recurrent grant recommended by the University Grants Committee, but I want to emphasise—and this is the point of these remarks—that this decision did not in any way affect the capital programme on which the progress of science in the universities predominantly depends. As one who has taken part in a television programme on this subject, I am not at all sure that this has been fully realised. The main capital programme was announced in January, 1961. In 1956–57 capital grants to universities were £9 million. Last year they were £28 million and in 1966–67 they will be at least£40 million.

Photo of Sir Austen Albu Sir Austen Albu , Edmonton

Surely what is happening is that we are building laboratories and providing other resources but not the money to maintain them.

Photo of Sir Edward Boyle Sir Edward Boyle , Birmingham Handsworth

I cannot go over the debates which we have already had on this subject. I merely point out that the decisions which the Government have taken over the recurrent grants are quite separate from decisions to do with the capital grants. It has been suggested by some commentators that the two absolutely go together, whereas the capital grants are in fact as announced in January, 1961. It is quite true that since the capital programme was announced building costs have risen, but I repeat what my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury said in may—that sympathetic consideration will be given to further increases in capital grants.

Photo of Mr Gilbert Mitchison Mr Gilbert Mitchison , Kettering

In view of all this, what is the Government's objection to revealing what the universities and the University Grants Committee ask for? We should be glad to hear it.

Photo of Sir Edward Boyle Sir Edward Boyle , Birmingham Handsworth

I was coming to that in a moment, but I will answer the hon. and learned Member straight away.

I believe that the relationship between the Government and the University Grants Committee and the way in which the Committee does its work make it necessary that the Committee should not be exposed to the sort of pressures which inevitably would arise if its advice were published. If one accepts this as a general proposition, it follows that the Government must preserve in confidence the advice which it receives. The Government accept the fullest responsibility for the ultimate decision and it is up to them to make clear when necessary that they have departed from the Committee's recommendations. All this will be considered again when we have the Report of the Robbins Committee. It will then be the duty of Parliament to take some very important decisions, but at the moment we have to keep to the existing position.

Photo of Dr Jeremy Bray Dr Jeremy Bray , Middlesbrough West

Will the hon. Gentleman consult the University Grants Committee as to whether it wishes its advice to be published?

Photo of Sir Edward Boyle Sir Edward Boyle , Birmingham Handsworth

No, Sir. I am sorry, but I have stated the Government's view of the only way in which the present system can work and I think that that is fully realised in many parts of the university world.

I also wanted to say that, in addition to the components of expenditure on university education which I have mentioned, there is all the expenditure on new colleges of advanced technology, which cost the nation £50 million in 1956–57 and £100 million last year and will cost at least £160 million five years hence.

I should like to give examples of what these figures mean. Firstly, they mean a considerable expansion of student numbers, two-thirds of which will be in science and technology. Secondly, they mean university building, predominantly for science, on a scale which I would invite hon. Members to consider after looking at the list in Appendix II of the University Vote. They show eighteen major science buildings in progress and twenty-one more scheduled for building. In the light of these figures, I just do not see how it can be said that the Government are not doing their share.

There is another matter connected with the universities to which I should draw attention, that is, the research professorships announced by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary on 28th June. The President of the Royal Society proposed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the Society should establish, with Exchequer support and the approval of the universities, a number of professorships in British universities. As my right hon. Friend said, the Government have agreed with the Royal Society to provide further direct financial support to the Royal Society to enable it to sponsor the creation of five professorships of this kind. It is hoped that the first appointments will be made early in 1963. I believe that they will be of considerable value in the context of the matters which we have been discussing today.

We should not forget the research grants made by the D.S.I.R. to the universities which cover a large number of small grants and also a certain amount of very expensive equipment of considerable importance. The future of D.S.I.R. expenditure is at present under consideration so I cannot give precise details to the Committee, but I can say that D.S.I.R. grants to the universities have been increasing and, whatever final figures are agreed on, we shall undoubtedly be doubling the rate of expenditure on this kind of grant within the course of the next few years.

I turn now to the subject of teachers. The hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) was courteous enough to inform me that he could not stay to the end of the debate, but I wish to comment on some of the points which he raised. I will first give the Committee some figures.

The number of A-level mathematics and science passes increased between 1960 and 1961 as follows: for mathematics, the total rose from 26,800 to 29,700, and for science from 48,600 to 55,000. The number of mathematics and science graduate teachers in our schools rose in total from 17,800 in 1959 to just over 20,000 in 1961. So the trend is favourable.

Photo of Mr James Boyden Mr James Boyden , Bishop Auckland

Can the hon. Gentleman say how many lecturers in mathematics and physics there are in the women's training colleges?

Photo of Sir Edward Boyle Sir Edward Boyle , Birmingham Handsworth

As the hon. Gentleman will understand, I cannot answer that question without notice, but I will try to obtain the information and send it to him as soon as possible. The hon. Member for Cardiff, West did say something about which I wished to comment. He drew attention to the fact that a higher percentage of teachers were now having to go to the primary schools because of the bulge. That is true, but one should remember two factors in this connection. First, as we all agree, the real foundation for the training of scientists, technologists, technicians and craftsmen in this country must be first-class teaching in the primary schools. Let us never forget that the priority on which we all agree in this Committee is bringing down the size of primary school classes. Second, the percentage to which the hon. Gentleman refers is a percentage of a larger teacher training population. When I was at the Ministry of Education, the capacity of the teacher training colleges was about 24,000. We have already had one expansion programme providing 16,000 more places and there are to be two further expansion programmes providing 4,000 and 8,000 more places. The figures which the hon. Gentleman used must be related to a higher total teacher population.

The hon. and learned Member for Kettering referred to the Report of the Ad Hoc Committee of the Royal Society on biological research. I entirely agree with all that has been said about the importance of biology. In my view, some commentators in our society today do no service by laying so much emphasis proportionately on physics. I quite agree with what the hon. and learned Member said about the very exciting vistas in biology which seem to be opened up. My noble Friend has received a copy of this very important Report, and he is seeking advice on it from the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy. Also, the research councils which support biological research in various ways are giving the Report their detailed consideration.

The hon. and learned Gentleman asked a question about the interchange of scientific and administrative staff. Scientific staff are already employed to a considerable extent on administrative duties particularly in the research establishments themselves but also at headquarters where they are primarily concerned with the control of scientific progress and the deployment of scientific staff. I can tell the hon. and learned Gentleman that the Government are very well aware of the Zuckerman Committee's recommendation that suitable scientific staff should be transferred more widely to administrative work. The Government intend to do what they can to ensure that more opportunities of administrative work are available to scientists.

My hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon (Ms. Neave) asked one or two questions about Euratom. He asked on what basis the Government would negotiate for private industry. My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary tells me that we are already consulting with industry through the Board of Trade about the Euratom negotiations. On his second point, that other countries have less control and more farming out of projects to private industry than we have, I am told again that the Euratom statute has no provisions which determine the nature of the organisation of nuclear industry within each country. Some of its provisions are in fact aimed at ensuring fair competition between undertakings within the Common Market. If we are to join Euratom it will be open to any undertaking within the Common Market to compete for the supply of equipment or services to the Euratom Commission for the Commission's own projects.

The hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Pentland) and the hon. Member for Consett (Mr. Stones) asked about the fuel and power industry. The hon. Member for Chester-le-Street—I do not see him in his place now—rather surprised me by bringing up the Paley Report again. I do not think that we have heard about that in this Committee for quite a Parliament or so, but I can say to him that the Paley Report has been rather, as they say, overtaken by events because in the last 10 years exploration has added on an average 2,000 million tons of oil a year to the proven reserves of the Middle East alone.

The hon. Member asked also about research for the utilisation of fuel. If the hon. Member looks at the Report of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research he will find that the British Coal Utilisation Research Association has an annual total income of very nearly £500,000. It is one of the best off and most prosperous of the research associations. As regards safety and health in mines and quarries, I can only refer the hon. Gentleman to the fairly complete answer which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Power gave on 7th May on this subject.

Before I come to my concluding passage there is one announcement that I want to make to the Committee this evening. A grant of about £250,000 is being offered to the University of London by the D.S.I.R. to provide a low power nuclear reactor for research and training. The reactor, which is a 100 kilowatt Consort, made by the General Electric Company, Limited, will be operated by the Imperial College on behalf of the university and is to be built on the Imperial College field station at Silwood Park, near Virginia Water, Surrey. While it is intended primarily for the London University it will be available for use by other research organisations in the London area. It is not very often that the Financial Secretary, in winding up a debate, announces a grant to the extent of even £250,000. More often he is in the position of resisting expenditure. I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman will be thankful for what, I think, are quite reasonable mercies in the announcement that I have just made.

I want, in conclusion, to say a word on the point on which the hon. Member for Edmonton spent a good deal of time, namely, organisation and the position of the Government in science. No one will claim that the present administrative organisation for promoting Government-sponsored civil science is perfect.

First, the pace of scientific development during the first half of this century has been very rapid and is accelerating. The Government's concern with science, which at the start of the century was relatively limited, has grown at a corresponding rate. In terms of what one might call the normal perspective of administrative history, this concern has developed almost overnight. It surely is not surprising that the machinery of Government, in so far as it has to deal with civil science, has had something of an ad hoc air. It would be remarkable if it were otherwise. One should consider this from the point of view of the scientists.

The other feature of our existing system which can be pleaded in its favour is that it gives the scientist a very considerable measure of freedom. I think that before we condemn a system which embraces as many different types of agency as the research councils, the D.S.I.R., the Atomic Energy Authority and all the complex of organisations concerned with space, we should reflect on the benefits which the whole spirit of scientific inquiry and technological development has derived from not being subordinated to the full rigours of normal Departmental control.

I was interested in the note which I saw of the speech of the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam, (Mr. J.H. Osborn). Let us be careful about, as it were, moving closer to the Russian system, just as they are beginning to have doubts about their own organisation in the past. But I entirely agree with the emphasis which the hon. Member always rightly lays on the need for sufficient expertise. Of course, for the inhibited growth we have paid a price in the sense that we have reached a point when the increasing demands which science is making on the financial and economic resources of the community are so formidable that we must consider whether perhaps some further rationalisation of our administrative arrangements is desirable. The result may be a pattern of organisation in which our responsibilities may have to be rather more clearly defined, functions more systematically demarcated and effort, to some extent, redistributed.

I shall not attempt this evening to try to predict the outcome of the review which we have undertaken for this purpose, but I assure hon. Members opposite as they approach a Division on this subject that what I said at the beginning about innovation was sincerely meant. The Government realise that they must keep an open mind regarding innovation in their own administrative arrangements just as much as there is a need for innovation in science and technology in the community as a whole.

Photo of Mr Arthur Bottomley Mr Arthur Bottomley , Middlesbrough East

Mr. A. G. Bottomley (Middlesbrough. East) rose

Photo of Mr Arthur Bottomley Mr Arthur Bottomley , Middlesbrough East

Will the hon. Gentleman explain why the Minister for Science—

Photo of Sir Edward Boyle Sir Edward Boyle , Birmingham Handsworth

I do not want to be discourteous to the right hon. Gentleman, but I am coming literally to my last sentence, and it is time that I did so.

Remembering the advantages of the system which we have had but at the same time realising we must prove adaptable and must recognise the need for greater expertise in the present, I ask this side of the Committee to defend the Government's record in the important field which we have been discussing.

Photo of Mr Gilbert Mitchison Mr Gilbert Mitchison , Kettering

Since we still do not know what the Minister for Science does and have our own ideas as to what he should do, I beg to move, That a sum, not exceeding £72,000, be granted for the said Service.

Question put, That a sum, not exceeding £72,000, be granted for the said Service:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 138, Noes 190.

Division No. 246.]AYES[9.59 p.m.
Ainsley, WilliamEde, Rt. Hon. C.Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas
Albu, AustenEdelman, MauriceJenkins, Roy (Stechford)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)Edwards, Robert (Bilaton)Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)
Baird, JohnEdwards, Walter (Stepney)Kenyon, Clifford
Bence, CyrilEvans, AlbertKey, Rt. Hon. C. W.
Benson, Sir GeorgeFinch, HaroldKing, Dr. Horace
Blackburn, F.Fitch, AlanLawson, George
Blyton, WilliamFoot, Dingle (Ipswich)Ledger, Ron
Boardman, H.Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)Lee, Frederick (Newton)
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. HughLee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)
Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Lelcs. S.W.)Galpern, Sir MyerLever, Harold (Cheetham)
Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)Ginsburg, DavidLewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)
Bowles, FrankGrey, CharlesLubbock, Eric
Boyden, JamesGriffiths, W. (Exchange)Mabon, D. J. Dickson
Braddock, Mrs. E. M.Grimond, Rt. Hon. J.MacColl, James
Bray, Dr. JeremyGunter, RayMcKay, John (Wallsend)
Brockway, A. FennerHamilton, William (West Fife)Manuel, Archie
Brown, Thomas (Ince)Hannan, WilliamMarsh, Richard
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)Harper, JosephMason, Roy
Castle, Mrs. BarbaraHayman, F. H.Mendelson, J. J.
Cliffe, MichaelHealey, DenisMilne, Edward
Corbet, Mrs. FredaHenderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur(Rwly Regis)Mitchison, G. R.
Crosland, AnthonyHerbison, Miss MargaretMoody, A. S.
Crossman, R. H. S.Hilton, A. V.Moyle, Arthur
Cullen, Mrs. AliceHolman, PercyMulley, Frederick
Dalyell, TamHoosen, H. E.Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)
Davies, Ifor (Gower)Houghton, DouglasNoel-Baker, Rt.Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)
Delargy, HughHughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)Oram, A. E.
Diamond, JohnHunter, A. E.Owen, Will
Dodds, NormanHynd, John (Attercliffe)Padley, W. E.
Donnelly, DesmondIrving, Sydney (Dartford)Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. JohnJanner, Sir BarnettParkin, B. T.
Pavitt, LaurenceRoyle, Charles (Salford, West)Tomney, Frank
Peart, FrederickSkeffington, ArthurWade, Donald
Pentland, NormanSlater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)Walnwright, Edwin
Plummer, Sir LeslieSlater, Joseph (Sedgefield)Weitzman, David
Prentice, R. E.Small, WilliamWells, William (Walsall, N.)
Proctor, W. T.Sorensen, R. W.White, Mrs. Eirene
Randall, HarrySoskice, Rt. Hon. Sir FrankWilkins, W. A.
Redhead, E. C.Spriggs, LeslieWilley, Frederick
Reid, WilliamStewart, Michael (Fulham)Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Rhodes, H.Stonehouse, JohnWilliams, W. T. (Warrington)
Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)Stones, WilliamWillis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
Robertson, John (Paisley)Strachey, Rt. Hon. JohnWilson, Rt. Hon. Harald (Huyton)
Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)Swingler, Stephen
Rodgers, W. T. (Stockton)Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Ross, WilliamThornton, ErnestMr. Charles A. Howell and
Mr. McCann.
NOES
Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)Page, Graham (Crosby)
Allason, JamesGrant-Ferris, Wg. Cdr. R.Page, John (Harrow, West)
Arbuthnot, JohnGreen, AlanPannell, Norman (Kirkdale)
Ashton, Sir HubertHall, John (Wycombe)Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)
Balniel, LordHamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)Peel, John
Barber, AnthonyHarris, Reader (Heston)Percival, Ian
Batsford, BrianHarrison, Brian (Maldon)Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth
Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate)Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)Pike, Miss Mervyn
Berkeley, HumphryHarvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)Pitman, Sir James
Biffen, JohnHarvie Anderson, MissPitt, Miss Edith
Biggs-Davison, JohnHenderson, John (Cathcart)Pott, Percivall
Bingham, R. M.Hicks Beach, Mai. W.Price, David (Eastleigh)
Birch, Rt. Hon. NigelHiley, JosephProudfoot, Wilfred
Bishop, F. P.Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)Pym, Francis
Black, Sir CyrilHill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe)Quennell, Miss J. M.
Bossom, CliveHirst, GeoffreyRedmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin
Bourne-Arton, A.Holland, PhilipRenton, David
Box, DonaldHopkins, AlanRidley, Hon. Nicholas
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. JohnHornby R. P.Ridsdale, Jullan
Boyle, Sir EdwardHornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Dame P.Rippon, Geoffrey
Braine, BernardHoward, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives)Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)
Brewis, JohnHughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral JohnRoots, William
Brown, Alan (Tottenham)Hughes-Young, MichaelRopner, Col. Sir Leonard
Browne, Percy (Torrington)Iremonger, T. L.Sharples, Richard
Buck, AntonyIrvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)Shaw, M.
Bullus, Wing Commander EricJames, DavidShepherd William
Burden. F, A.Jennings, J. C.Skeet, T. H. H.
Campbell Sir David (Belfast S.)Smith Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)Smithers, Peter
Carr, Compton (Barons Court)Johnson, Eric (Blackley)Smyth, Rt. Hon. Brig. Sir John
Channon, H. P. G.Johnson Smith, GeoffreySpearman, Sir Alexander
Chichester-Clark, R.Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)Speir, Rupert
Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)Kerans, Cdr. J. S.Stevens, Geoffrey
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)Kirk, PeterStorey, Sir Samuel
Cleaver, LeonardLegge-Bourke, Sir HarryStudholme, Sir Henry
Collard, RichardLewis, Kenneth (Rutland)Summers, Sir Spencer
Cooke, RobertLindsay, Sir MartinTapsell, Peter
Coope, A. E.Linstead, Sir HughTaylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)
Costain, A. P.Litchfield, Capt. JohnTeeling, Sir William
Couison, MichaelLongden, GilbertTemple, John M.
Courtney, Cdr. AnthonyLoveys, Walter H.Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Craddock, Sir BeresfordMcLaren, MartinThompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)
Crowder, F. P.McLaughlin, Mrs. PatriciaThornton- Kemsley, Sir Colin
Curran, CharlesMaclean, Sir Fitzroy(Bute& N. Ayrs.)Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon
Dalkeith, Earl ofMacleod, Rt. Hn. <ob/>ain (Enfield, W.)Turner, Colin
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir HenryMacpherson, Niall (Dumfries)Turton, Rt- Hon. R. H.
Digby, Simon WingfieldMaitland, Sir JohnTweedsmuir, Lady
Doughty, CharlesMarkham, Major Sir Frankvan Straubenzee, W. R.
Drayson, G. B.Marshall, DouglasVaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon, Sir John
Elliot Capt. Walter (Carshaltont)Marten, NeilVickers, Miss Joan
Emery, PeterMathew, Robert (Honiton)Walder, David
Emmet, Hon. Mrs. EvelynMatthews, Gordon (Meriden)Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir Derek
Mawby, RayWall, Patrick
Errington, Sir EricMaxwell-Hyslop, R. J.Whitelaw, William
Farey-Jones, F. W.Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.Williams, Dudley (Exeter)
Farr, JohnMills, StrattonWise, A. R.
Fisher, NigelMiscampbell, NormanWolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Fletcher-Cooke, CharlesMontgomery, FergusWood, Rt. Hon. Richard
Foster, JohnMore, Jasper (Ludlow)Woodhouse, C. M.
Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone)Morgan, WilliamWoollam, John
Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)Neave, AireyWorsley, Marcus
Freeth, DenzilNoble, Michael
Gibson-Watt, DavidNugent, Rt. Hon. Sir RichardTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Gilmour, Sir JohnOrr-Ewing, C. IanMr. Finlay and Mr..J.E.B.Hill.
Glover, Sir DouglasOsborn, John (Hallam)

Original Question again proposed.

It being after Ten o'clock, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair to report Progress and ask leave to sit again.

Committee report Progress; to sit again Tomorrow.