HC Deb 08 December 1958 vol 597 c6
2. Dr. D. Johnson

asked the Minister of Health, as representing the Lord President of the Council, whether he is satisfied with the adequacy of the machinery in regard to the approval of mental health research; in particular, whether this is acting in sufficiently expeditious fashion; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Walker-Smith

Yes, Sir, the machinery provides for rapid and regular consideration by the Medical Research Council of proposals and of the advice tendered by the Clinical Research Board about them.

Dr. Johnson

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that, despite what he says, we get complaints—one of which I have in my hand—that it sometimes takes not less than eighteen months to obtain a definite answer, yes or no, on a research project, and that delays of this kind are naturally frustrating? Will he look into this aspect of the problem in particular?

Mr. Walker-Smith

I am not sure precisely what case my hon. Friend has in mind. I am, however, aware of two cases in which there has been unavoidable delay in research projects for personal reasons connected with the gentlemen who were put in charge of them. In the ordinary way the machinery for the consideration and approval of these projects is designed to be rapid, and is so in practice.

Mr. Blenkinsop

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that we have recently lost a number of expert scientists and medical men who were doing research in this mental field—especially in schizophrenia—and that there is some anxiety about the trend for them to go to the United States because of the lack of resources here?

Mr. Walker-Smith

In one of the cases to which I referred the professor in question took up an appointment in the United States. That was the reason for the delay I mentioned. But that action was taken for personal reasons, and I do not think that my noble Friend would wish to draw from that case general conclusions of the kind which the hon. Member has drawn.

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