HC Deb 09 February 1956 vol 548 cc1805-7
45. Mr. E. Fletcher

asked the Prime Minister if he will take administrative steps to co-ordinate the drive to produce more scientists and technicians, bearing in mind the present division of responsibility between the Treasury, the Lord President of the Council, the Minister of Education, the University Grants Committee, and the Advisory Council for Scientific Policy.

The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. R. A. Butler)

I have been asked to reply.

The contact between the various Departments which necessarily share responsibility for the development of scientific and technical education is already close and continuous. My right hon. Friend trusts that the White Paper on Technical Education which the Government hope shortly to publish will demonstrate that no administrative considerations will be allowed to stand in the way of a vigorous expansion of facilities for this purpose.

Mr. Fletcher

May I take it from that that the Lord Privy Seal at any rate realises that if we are to make good the deplorable leeway that exists in technological advances between this country and Soviet Russia, a really vigorous drive in this field is required and that no administrative arrangements must be allowed to impede it?

Mr. Butler

The Government have already indicated their interest in higher technological education by the remarkable developments which have been planned in that sphere. Those are now being followed up in this White Paper on technical education, and the hon. Member and the House may feel satisfied that the importance of this subject is fully understood by all my colleagues.

Mr. Gaitskell

Can the Lord Privy Seal give an assurance that the White Paper will cover the whole subject of technical education, not only the training of expert scientists through the universities and technological institutes, but also technical training in the case of what is sometimes called the lower, less advanced levels?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir. The major emphasis in this case, for reasons connected with the university grants, will be on the point to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, but there will also be a portion of the White Paper referring to advances in the universities.

Mr. Beswick

Can the Lord Privy Seal say, if administrative difficulties are being set aside, whether it is still proposed to call up for National Service engineers who have graduated from the institutes?

Mr. Butler

That question should be put to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service.

Mr. Usborne

Does the right hon. Gentleman fully appreciate that while scientists and technicians are extremely scarce, far too large a proportion is being attracted to and employed in Government establishments making atomic weapons and things like that?

Mr. Butler

There is always this great difficulty in spacing out the supply of trained technicians and technologists, and I should like to investigate in detail the point put to me by the hon. Member.

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