HC Deb 18 December 1947 vol 445 cc1863-6
48. Mr. Erroll

asked the Lord President of the Council whether the Government have any plans for the further development of scientific research as an aid to solving the problems of industrial production.

49. Mr. Rhodes

asked the Lord President of the Council whether more assistance will be given to the solution of current industrial and economic problems through the application of scientific research.

Lord President of the Council (Mr. Herbert Morrison)

Yes, Sir. I am advised that while a major contribution to industrial productivity cannot be expected in the short run from current research in the natural sciences there are considerable possibilities of increased returns, first, from the more widespread application of research already carried out in the natural sciences and technology, and, secondly, from current research in the social science field.

I have, therefore, decided, in consultation with my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to supplement the work of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy by setting up a new Committee on Industrial Productivity.

The terms of reference of the Committee are: To advise the Lord President of the Council and the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the form and scale of research effort in the natural and social sciences which will best assist an early increase in industrial productivity and further to advise on the manner which the results of such research can best be applied. The main work of the Committee, of which Sir Henry Tizard will be chairman, will be conducted through a number of panels which will be constituted from time to time to investigate and report on various aspects of the problem. In the first instance panels are being set up to deal with Technology and Operational Research under the chairmanship of Sir William Stanier, F.R.S., Import Substitution under Prof. S. Zuckerman, C.B., F.R.S., the Human Factors Affecting Industrial Productivity under the chairmanship of Sir George Schuster, K.C.S.I., K.C.M.G., C.B.E., M.C., and Technical Information Services under the chairmanship of Dr. Alexander King. I will circulate further details, including the names of the other members of the Committee, except those still to be chosen in consultation with the employers and trades unions, in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Erroll

Can the Lord President say how he will ensure that the functions of this new body will not overlap those of the Scientific Advisory Committee, the development councils for industry to be set up by the President of the Board of Trade, and the Industrial Health Research Board, all of which are already doing good work in this and allied fields?

Mr. Morrison

Sir Henry Tizard will be chairman of this Committee, and that will provide a link with the Scientific Advisory Council. With regard to the other bodies mentioned by the hon. Gentleman, they will be associated by appropriate official representation.

Mr. Rhodes

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his reply will give considerable satisfaction to research workers in industry throughout the country, and may I ask if these planners will be working in close co-operation with the existing research associations?

Mr. Morrison

Yes, Sir. Appropriate steps will be taken with that end in view.

Mr. Collins

In view of the importance of this matter, and the possibility of badly needed improvements in managerial efficiency, can the right hon. Gentleman say whether there will be interim reports, and whether the Committee will consider means for disseminating this information so that it gets down to the very smallest firm?

Mr. Morrison

Yes, Sir. Certainly that will be done. Suitable reports will be disseminated through the appropriate channels, and it may be desirable that a collective statement should be issued publicly from time to time.

Wing-Commander Hulbert

Can the Lord President say whether any of these chairmen are to be paid?

Mr. Morrison

No, Sir, they are not.

Following are the further details:

Much assistance to industry is already being given through the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research and the grant-aided Research Associations, through the work of the Medical Research Council and in other ways. When the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy was formed early this year, under the Chairmanship of Sir Henry Tizard, I asked the Council to consider the most appropriate form of research effort in the natural and social sciences which would assist in an increase in the national productivity.

The House will realise that the problems remitted to the new Committee are wide and complex. My right hon. Friend and I have taken the view that the best methods for achieving practical results will have to be evolved according to experience and we have accordingly been anxious to allow for considerable elasticity in procedure as well as to avoid hampering the Committee with more precise and detailed terms of reference. We also recognise that many of the questions involved are intimately connected with matters which are the daily business of industry in the fields both of technological practice and of industrial relations. The success of the Committee's work will accordingly depend on the extent to which it can work in collaboration with those engaged in industry—both management and the trade unions. We feel confident that this collaboration will be forthcoming. Finally, I wish to make it clear that we fully appreciate that much effort is already being directed not only by special institutions and industrial consultants but also by industrial firms and the trade unions to studying the matters with which the Committee will be concerned. I can accordingly perhaps best indicate our purpose by saying that our chief practical aim is to ensure that full advantage is taken of the results of current scientific investigation and of the lessons to be learned from the good work which is being done in many sectors of British industry so that the outstanding achievements of the best may become the standard practice of all.

Following is the composition of the Committee on Industrial Productivity:

Chairman: Sir Henry Tizard, K.C.B., F.R.S., Chairman of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy and of the Defence Research Policy Committee.

Sir William Starrier, F.R.S., formerly Chief Mechanical Engineer, L.M.S., and Scientific Adviser, Ministry of Supply.

Professor S. Zuckerman, C.B., F.R.S., Professor of Anatomy, Birmingham.

Sir George Schuster, K.C.S.I., K.C.M.G., C.B.E., M.C., Chairman of Cotton Working Party, member of Council of the British Institute of Management.

Dr. A. King, Director, Scientific Secretariat, Lord Presidents' Office; formerly Director, British Commonwealth Scientific Office, Washington.

One or more employers (chosen in con sultation with F.B.I. and B.E.C.).

One or more Trades Union Members (chosen in consultation with T.U.C.).

Sir Edward Appleton, G.B.E., K.C.B., F.R.S., Secretary of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.

Sir Claude Gibb, C.B.E., F.R.S., Chairman and Managing Director, C. A. Parsons & Co., Ltd., formerly Chairman of Tank Board.

Mr. Hugh Weeks, C.M.G., Central Economic Planning Staff; member of the Economic Planning Board.

Mr. Robert Hall, Director of Economic Section, Cabinet Office; member of the Economic Planning Board.

Mr. E. M. Nicholson, Secretary, Office of the Lord President of the Council.

Mr. G. B. Blaker, Treasury (Economic Affairs Office).

Secretary: Mr. E. D. T. Jourdain, Scientific Secretariat, Office of the Lord President of the Council.

Forward to