Research Associations and Public Corporations

Oral Answers to Questions — Science – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st May 1963.

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Photo of Mr Cyril Bence Mr Cyril Bence , Dunbartonshire East 12:00 am, 21st May 1963

asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what steps he is taking to encourage scientific research and development by research associations and public corporations.

Photo of Mr Denzil Freeth Mr Denzil Freeth , Basingstoke

My noble Friend is responsible for the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research and the Atomic Energy Authority, which support and carry out research and development. D.S.I.R. supports research associations by providing revenue grants in support of their general activities. These amounted to over £2 million in 1962–63. In addition, special grants are made for building projects and for the extension of information services, and earmarked grants for special research projects. The Atomic Energy Authority, of course, carried out a large civil research and development programme. I understand that my right hon. Friends discuss research programmes on appropriate occasions with the nationalised industries and statutory bodies with which they are concerned.

Photo of Mr Cyril Bence Mr Cyril Bence , Dunbartonshire East

Will the hon. Gentleman make sure that more money is contributed to research associations by the large manufacturing institutions? Is he aware that there is a feeling—it seems to come out in the Report—that they are not making the contribution which ought to be made? Is he aware that many small manufacturers in this country are entirely dependent on research by public corporations and associations and that it is to help them that the research association should do more than is done at the present time?

Photo of Mr Denzil Freeth Mr Denzil Freeth , Basingstoke

The only way in which my noble Friend could constrain industry to contribute to research is through the use of the provisions of Section 9 of the 1947 Act. It is our constant effort to encourage industry to contribute more fully and generously to research associations, and it is by no means always the large firms in this country which are niggardly.

Photo of Mr Hector Hughes Mr Hector Hughes , Aberdeen North

In taking steps to encourage contributions to research, as envisaged by the Question and the Minister's Answer, may I ask the hon. Gentleman to say what his Ministry is doing, compared with research in other countries, to ensure British supremacy in this field and what steps he is taking to apply the results of that research in a practical way to British industry and to the British way of life?

Photo of Mr Denzil Freeth Mr Denzil Freeth , Basingstoke

We follow carefully the arrangements in other countries with regard to research associations for cooperative research. My information is that the British Government are more generous than any other Western Government in giving general grants to such bodies.