Manpower Resources for Science and Technology (Committee)

Oral Answers to Questions — Coal – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th May 1965.

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Photo of Mr John Osborn Mr John Osborn , Sheffield, Hallam 12:00 am, 25th May 1965

asked the Prime Minister what have been the changes in the terms of reference of the reconstituted Committee on Manpower Resources for Science and Technolgy; to which Minister or Ministers it reports; and which Minister now appoints its chairman and members.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

The terms of reference of the new Committee on Manpower Resources for Science and Technology have been widened to include not only consideration of the future supply of, and demand for, scientists and technologists, but also the use made of existing scientists and technologists. The reconstituted Committee reports to the Secretary of State for Education and Science and the Minister of Technology jointly. Members have been appointed by the Secretary of State after consultation with the Minister of Technology.

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

While thanking the Prime Minister for that answer, and saying how much we welcome the appointment of Sir Willis Jackson, may I ask whether the responsibility is entirely that of the Secretary of State for Education and Science, or is it the responsibility of the Cabinet as a whole? Has that been clarified?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

Of course, all decisions are the responsibility of the Cabinet as a whole, but I think the hon. Gentleman will realise that in the past this Committee has tended to do statistical surveys of the estimated need for scientists and technologists in the future in relation to the training programme and education. In the new situation, I think that there will be general support for the view that the existing use made of Britain's scientists and technologists in the application of their discoveries to productive processes in industry is of at least equal importance, and that is, of course, the function of the Ministry of Technology.

Photo of Mr Patrick Jenkin Mr Patrick Jenkin , Wanstead and Woodford

Has the right hon. Gentleman impressed on the Committee the need to pursue its current review with the utmost expedition in view of the acute and growing shortage in certain branches of scientists and technologists?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

Yes, Sir. I am sure that the Committee is very well aware of that, and this, of course, means the most efficient use of the technologists and scientists who are already in industry—or, indeed, in any form of employment. I think that what the hon. Gentleman has said confirms the facts available to us and, of course, gives a very strongly different impression from some estimates made some time ago under the previous Government, when it was suggested that we had all the scientists we needed for several years ahead.

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

Is the Prime Minister aware that the part that the Minister of Technology could play in this matter would be very considerably simplified if the Prime Minister could further clarify the responsibility of the Minister of Technology as between, for example, the Post Office and himself in regard to telecommunications?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

My right hon. Friend is perfectly clear about his responsibilities, and I am sorry if the hon. Member is not. I am quite prepared to make a further statement about it if it will help him. The duties of the Minister of Technology, particularly in those branches of the engineering industry in which he has sponsorship responsibility, are very clear and very central to the question. I do not think that the hon. Gentleman would really advise taking from the Post Office all responsibility for research into telecommunications.