HC Deb 21 July 1915 vol 73 cc1563-5

52. "That a sum, not exceeding £25,000, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1916, for Expenditure in respect of the Services included in Class IV. of the Estimates for Civil Services, namely:—

7A. Scientific Investigation, etc., £25,000 "

Resolution read a second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."


As this Vote is for scientific investigation, I would like to know something about it. It is a new service in the true sense of the word, because we have never had any service of the sort before. In these days of economy, and in view of the fact that a short time ago we rejected a Vote of £25,000 for pathological research, I would like to have some explanation why we are at this particular moment taking up the subject of scientific investigation. I do not want to say that scientific investigation in ordinary times may not be a most excellent thing, but at the present moment I think we might easily postpone a proposal of this sort unless there is some very strong reason for bringing it forward.


The hon. Baronet has asked me why we should take up scientific investigation at the present time and spend money upon it. My reply is that at the present time I can conceive of no direction, in which this country can spend money more profitably than in this particular direction. I do not complain that the hon. Baronet has raised this question because the sum of £25,000, to which he has alluded, is a new Vote. It is, as I frankly admit, a new departure. I think those who are interested in the matter will recollect that a few weeks ago my right hon. Friend the late President of the Board of Education made an announcement that he was at work on a scheme, the object of which was to bring science and industry into closer association with each other. There was a very interesting Debate upon that scheme, and, if my recollection serves me aright, every Member who took part in that Debate spoke of this proposal in terms of the highest approval. I have just refreshed my memory by referring to the Debate, and I find that that is so. I have seen a number of references to the matter in the Press, and every Press comment that I have seen upon the question has approved of the proposal. I am perfectly prepared, if the hon. Baronet desires, to give an outline of the case for this Vote.


Is this scientific investigation for munitions of war, or is it merely scientific investigation in regard to-the ordinary education of the people?


This is scientific investigation in connection with industry. It does not pretend to supplement those scientific-investigations which are now being conducted in connection with munitions of war, but indirectly it will help those investigations very materially. I do not know whether I have satisfied the hon. Baronet, or whether he wishes me to make a case for this Vote.


I cannot say that I am satisfied, and I am afraid the hon. Member would not satisfy me if he made a case, especially after what he has said, that this is not really scientific investigation for munitions of war, but merely for ordinary educational purposes.


It is not for ordinary educational purposes, although it will undoubtedly be linked with education. The object of the Vote is to bring science into closer association with industry. I think if this War has taught us one lesson which we ought to lay to heart more than any other, it is that we have more to fear from scientific organisation in this War, and the application of science to industry in the commercial war with Germany, than anything else. I therefore urge upon the House that it could make no better contribution to the commercial success of the country in the future than to pass this Vote. If I am required to make a case for the Vote, I am perfectly willing to go into it.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolution reported,

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