HC Deb 08 December 1927 vol 211 cc1548-50
21. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

asked the President of the Board of Education what practical results have been derived from the reports of the researches and experiments of the Department of Scientific Research into methods of extracting oil and other by-products from coal?

The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Lord Eustace Percy)

As the House is aware from the statements made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education on 11th May last, and by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade yesterday, the practical result of the Department's work on hydrogenation has been to establish that British coals available in quantity can be converted into oil by methods which I understand are now being thoroughly investigated from the commercial point of view by prominent British firms; and the practical result of its work on low temperature carbonisation has been to develop a process which is shortly to be tried out on a manufacturing scale. As regards other processes on which the Department has reported favourably from a technical point of view, I can only say that reports in the Press indicate that some of these are being extended in practice. As my hon. and gallant Friend will realise, the business of the Department is to increase our knowledge of the laws and processes which are likely to have an industrial application, and to publish the results in a form easily available to all who are interested. The Department has no machinery for following out all the practical results to which their investigations may lead; nor, in the opinion of my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council, should the responsibility for doing this be thrown upon it.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Will the Noble Lord consider engaging a good advertising expert to write up the results in an attractive form and send them to the people who might benefit from them?


I think that any Government Department would probably find advantage from the services of a publicity agent, but, quite apart from the question of expense, I do not think that it would be altogether desirable to indulge in such methods in the case of a Research Department.


When very valuable work has been done by the Department, is any charge made to the company that benefits by the research?


In regard to details of that kind, I must ask the hon. Member to put down a question.


Is the President of the Board of Education aware that yesterday the President of the Board of Trade said that the Government had spent money in purchasing a process, whereas to-day the Noble Lord says that there is something that is being experimented with? Is it not the fact that commercial plants were working before we heard about the Bergius process in this country, extracting oil from coal, as long ago as 1920?


I think that if the hon. Member will read my answer, he will see that his supplementary question is answered by it.


Is a report likely to be published soon as to the results that are being achieved by this new process?


I do not know to which process the hon. Member is referring.


I mean the reports that are issued from time to time.


Is it possible, in the experimental stage, to get metal to resist the strains involved in the Bergius process?


Notice should be given of questions on technical points.

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