Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £15,224,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the expense of scientific services, including a grant in aid to the National Institute of Oceanography, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March. 1956.
§ Mr. G. R. Howard
I wonder whether my hon. Friend will let us know, even if he cannot do so now, as much as possible of the interest the Admiralty has been taking in the trials of this new turbojet boat, the "Bluebird." Over the week-end I saw this remarkable boat, which is capable of attaining, from a standing start, a speed of 150 m.p.h. in a quarter of a mile. It seems to me that this might have a possible naval application in future for such craft as coastal M.T.B.S, which could go on their secondary engines to the place from which they were expected to operate and then, with this enormous power, could deliver an attack before anyone knew anything about it.
I have received information from Mr. Donald Campbell, whose wonderful work has been going on painstakingly over the last few years, and to whom I am sure we all owe a great debt of gratitude. He tells me that the American Navy has asked for details of his craft. It is obvious, therefore, that the U.S. Navy is interested and I hope that it will be possible for my hon. Friend to tell me at 1164 some time that our Navy is taking an interest in this matter.
§ Mr. Shackleton
The Committee should look on Vote 6, which involves a sum of over £15 million, with a very favourable eye. It is rather pleasing to find at least one item in the war-making equipment of the Navy a great deal of which serves the community and mankind in general. It is very pleasant for me to be able to say these nice things about the Navy, and I am sure that we should recognise that the Navy and the Admiralty and the hydrographer have rendered great services in this important sphere. Few people realise how much important fundamental research work is carried out under the auspices of this Vote.
I should like to inquire in particular about two matters. I, equally, do not expect the Civil Lord to answer now, but since the hon. Member for St. Ives (Mr. G. R. Howard) has mentioned "Bluebird" I should like to know what research is being done on hydrofoil boats. The Americans are doing a great deal of research and the Germans used these boats during the war. It might well be that the application of hydrofoil boats for transportation at sea might swing the balance from the air to the sea, because of the greater economies and the speed obtained
I know that Admiralty policy is to let the Americans do research of which we are kept informed, and I appreciate that the Admiralty does not want to waste limited resources in investigating something when it knows that it will have the benefit of research by others, but hydrofoil development is going on in Europe. A German company run by a Dr. Sachsenburg is designing these boats not merely for naval use, but for civil use on lakes and on the sea. I do not expect the Civil Lord to answer now, but I ask the Admiralty to look again comprehensively at work done in what may, in the long run, be a very important sphere.
There is another point in which I have a specific interest. I ask the Civil Lord to ask the First Lord to do all that he can to support the expedition which we hope will go out, with a large grant from the British Government, to cross the Antarctic Continent. This expedition will carry out a plan which was proposed forty years ago, but which never came 1165 to success because the ship of the expedition concerned was crushed in the ice. The expedition, which is being led by Dr. Fuchs, has apparently aroused sufficient support in Her Majesty's Government for the unprecedented grant of £100,000 to be given to it.
The Service Departments, and particularly the Admiralty and the Navy, have long had a remarkable history of pioneering exploration, especially in Polar regions and I ask that, quite apart from money, every support should be given to this expedition. I am sure that the hon. and gallant Member for Merton and Morden (Captain Ryder), who was a distinguished participant in expeditions to Graham Land and in the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey, will share my views that full support should be given to the expedition.
I should also like to ask what plans the Admiralty have for co-operation in the International Geophysical Year. The Civil Lord will be aware that the Geophysical Year is the natural inheritor of the Polar Year. It represents a combined international effort to investigate fundamental problems connected with the earth's magnetism and so on. It is encouraging that the majority of nations, including the Soviet Union, are taking part, and it would be interesting to know how far the Admiralty and the Services are involved in that undertaking.
§ Mr. Digby
There is very little that I can say in reply, except to thank my hon. Friend the Member for St. Ives (Mr. G. R. Howard) and the hon. Member for Preston, South (Mr. Shackleton) for raising these matters. We will watch the trials of "Bluebird" and consider what lessons we may learn from them. There may be valuable lessons, although there are points of difference between "Bluebird" and anything likely to be useful to us. We shall certainly consider the other points which the hon. Member for Preston, South raised.
§ Question put and agreed to.
That a sum, not exceeding £15,224,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the expense of scientific services, including a grant in aid to the National Institute of Oceanography, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1956.