HC Deb 31 January 1956 vol 548 cc733-4
9. Mr. E. Fletcher

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works, as representing the Lord President of the Council, if, in the interests of improving technical education and research in this country, he will double the number of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research students now being awarded, and will increase the number of senior research awards.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works (Mr. J. R. Bevins)

The Department of Scientific and Industrial Research awards about 400 new maintenance allowances each year to young graduates in science and technology. It is doubtful whether this figure could be substantially increased without lowering standards or aggravating the shortage of new graduates for industry and teaching. The average number of senior research awards is only about five and could be increased if suitable candidates applied.

Mr. Fletcher

Is not the Minister aware that a very large number of suitable students are anxious to take up these awards? Does not he agree that unless they are encouraged to do so the Government will never be able to make progress in improving our technological education?

Mr. Bevins

What the hon. Member says is perfectly true. There are about a thousand applicants for these awards every year, and nearly half the number are granted awards; but the hon. Member must bear in mind that, the greater the number of awards made, the greater is the reduction in the availability of science graduates for teaching and industry.

Mr. Hector Hughes

When considering these technical improvements, will the Minister pay particular regard to the development of marine and fishery research, on the lines of the research which is carried on so excellently at the Torry Research Station, near Aberdeen, the work of which is extremely necessary in order to preserve the fishing in the North Sea?

Mr. Bevins

I shall bring that suggestion to the notice of my noble Friend.