14. Mr. Lee
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works, as representing the Lord President of the Council, what steps he is taking to enable the results of scientific research to be brought to the attention of those industries which could, with advantage, make use of them.
§ Mr. Molson
Government Departments are paying special attention to making 220 the results of scientific research widely known to industry by means of publication in all forms and by advisory services. The research associations managed by industries also make special efforts to inform their members of the latest scientific developments.
The hon. Gentleman has spoken of what has been done. Nevertheless, will he agree that so far as British industry is concerned, we are very far from making effective use of the results of scientific research? Would not he point out to his noble Friend that it is most important that we should close the gap between the period when research becomes effective and the period when its findings become the practice in industry? We are getting very far behind our competitors in this important field.
§ Mr. Molson
I think it would be true to say that in many cases the most up-to-date scientific knowledge is not being made full use of by industry. On the other hand, so far as the Government are concerned, the Ministry of Agriculture operates the National Agricultural Advisory Service; the Ministry of Fuel and Power, the Fuel Efficiency Advisory Service; the Board of Trade, the Regional Boards for Industry; the Ministry of Works has in the regions and in London technical information officers, and Her Majesty's Stationery Office issue reports, abstracts and articles. A great deal is also done in the way of lectures and publicity of various kinds in order to draw the attention of the public to these things.
Would the hon. Gentleman agree that by far the greatest portion of British industry consists of small firms and establishments which perhaps have not the resources to carry out this research, and that it is really necessary to get this information into the hands of the small firms?
§ Mr. Woodburn
Is the Minister aware that in giving the list of Ministries he has left out one of the most important—the Ministry of Supply? Is he further aware that in a great deal of the field of industry, and even in Government expenditure, savings could be made if technical knowledge could be made available to firms engaged on the re-armament programme, so that they used the most 221 up-to-date methods of scientific achievements. Is it a fact that the Ministry of Supply are not in this list and, if not, would he inquire into the matter?
§ Mr. Molson
Certainly. The Department of Scientific and Industrial Research makes the results of its researches available to industry. It is not possible for us to force information down the throats of firms which do not choose to avail themselves of it, but anything which we can do by means of publicity we are doing. We shall certainly consider any other methods which can be devised, and I will hear in mind the point raised by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Osborne
Would not the Minister agree that it would be a pity if it went out from this House that British industry is a long way behind its competitors in scientific and technical developments, because that simply is not true? Would not he agree that most industries have their technical colleges and scientific development committees and that they are doing a very good job?