§ 13. Mr. Janner
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works, as representing the Lord President of the Council, whether he is aware of the inadequacy of translations into English of Russian scientific and technical publications, with the result that top-grade research scientists are being compelled to spend a substantial portion of their time in learning the Russian language; and whether he will set up a scientific bureau for Russian translations or take other steps to deal with the position.
§ Mr. H. Nicholls
As I have already indicated in answer to Questions, considerable thought is being given by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research to the difficult problem of obtaining, translating and disseminating Russian scientific and technical literature. The D.S.I.R. Lending Library Unit now has a collection of material unique in Western Europe and the Department runs a co-operative translation scheme on a limited scale. The Department is urgently considering ways and means of expanding the translation effort and getting the translations disseminated. My noble Friend cannot accept the implication in the Question that it is a waste of time for research scientists to learn Russian.
§ Mr. Janner
Does the Minister realise that it is difficult for scientists of the present generation to learn sufficient Russian to be able to cope with publications which come forward? Whilst admitting that more facilities for the learning of Russian in schools and so on should be provided, may I ask whether the hon. Gentleman is prepared to ensure that translations shall be available in the same way as, for example, Russian translations of English works are available in the Russian Institute of Information, in a matter of weeks, so that our scientists shall not be placed at a disadvantage by having to wait something like six months before they can get the information?
§ Mr. Nicholls
I can assure the hon. Gentleman that my noble Friend recognises the great importance of this matter, and that everything that can be done will 169 be done to speed up the service for which the hon. Gentleman asks. Whether or not this work should be translated by ordinary people or by scientists has been argued in Question and Answer in this House over past weeks. I must reiterate that, normally, it is found that the best translations of scientific and technical papers are produced by working scientists with a knowledge of Russian. It is the only way in which one can be certain that the translations will be effective.
§ 14. Mr. Janner
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works, as representing the Lord President of the Council whether he is aware that a monopoly has been given to a private translating bureau in the United States of America for cover to cover translations from Russian into English of at least 18 scientific journals which have to be purchased here; and what steps he proposes to take that such journals shall be translated in Great Britain in future.
§ Mr. H. Nicholls
While my noble Friend has no knowledge of the detailed arrangements in the U.S.A., he is aware that some Russian scientific and technical journals are being translated by commercial agencies there. There would seem to be no advantage in separate translations of the same documents into the English language taking place on both sides of the Atlantic. As I indicated in my reply to the right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) on 1st April, discussions are taking place between the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research and the United States National Science Foundation regarding co-operation on the production of complete translations of Russian scientific and technical journals, with a view to avoiding unnecessary duplication of effort.
§ Mr. Janner
Will the Minister bear in mind that it costs anything from £2 10s. to £3 10s. per thousand words to obtain a translation? That is a hopeless waste. Does he not think that, in the circumstances, it is highly desirable that these translations should be made here, it at all possible?
§ Mr. Nicholls
Naturally, we must play our part, and I can say that we are playing an important part, but there is really no point in duplicating the effort, when there is a chance of getting together to share the information that each other has.