HC Deb 20 December 1915 vol 77 cc18-20

asked the Minister of Munitions whether his attention has been called to a recent resolution of the British Science Guild urging upon His Majesty's Government the necessity of immediate steps being taken to establish a national school of technical optics, with a view to affording opportunities for the scientific training in this country of artisans and other students in the theory and practice of the several operations needed for the manufacture of the optical instruments and appliances which have hitherto been largely imported from Germany, and are now being imported into this country from the United States of America and elsewhere; and, if so, whether he proposes to take any action in the matter?


I understand that the resolution in question was passed by the British Science Guild in July, 1914. The object in view appears to be undoubtedly of the greatest importance, and my right hon. Friend has had before him for some months the necessity for increasing the number of skilled workmen available for the manufacture of optical instruments for war purposes. I am advised that a considerable number are being trained at various works engaged on Government contracts. As regards the permanent supply of such workmen, I understand that the matter is receiving the careful attention of the Board of Education.

40. Sir P. MAGNUS

asked the Minister of Munitions whether he is aware that a small but efficient school of technical optics has been for some time in existence in connection with the Northampton Polytechnic Institute, Clerkenwell; that the governors of that school have purchased at a cost of £13,000 a site for its extension, but have no funds available from which they can complete the necessary extension and equipment, and that unless funds are forthcoming they will be compelled to sell the site to avoid further payment of interest; and whether, in these circumstances and having regard to the need of a well-equipped school, the Minister of Munitions can see his way to make a grant of money towards the further extension of the school?


My right hon. Friend is sorry to hear of the difficulties with which the governors of the institute are faced, but the matter does not directly concern the Ministry of Munitions and I regret that I cannot hold out any prospect of a grant from funds at the disposal of the Ministry. I understand, however, that the matter is under the consideration of the Board of Education and the London County Council.


Is there any chance of the Board of Education making a grant in this case?


That question had better be addressed to the President of the Board of Education.


Is any attempt being made to train women as well as men for this work?


I do not know whether they are men or women. Efforts are being made to train workers. I cannot answer on that point further without notice.