HC Deb 01 July 1958 vol 590 cc1048-9
9. Mr. Willey

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works, as representing the Lord President of the Council, whether, in view of the wide margin of error to which the estimate of the amount spent by private industry on research and development made in surveys held in 1955 was subject, he will revise the methods followed to obtain this information.

Mr. H. Nicholls

Any estimate of the amount spent annually by industry on research and development is inherently difficult statistically. The 1955 survey was the first conducted by Government in this field. If the survey is repeated, naturally the methods used would be improved in the light of the experience gained.

Mr. Willey

Will the Parliamentary Secretary ensure that this will be repeated? Does he realise that in a highly competitive world we have to pay adequate attention to research? When he looks at the matter again, will he consider calling in aid the social survey of the Central Office of Information and see whether that organisation can help?

Mr. Nicholls

Certainly, Sir, but I am not as pessimistic, having looked at the matter, as the hon. Gentleman appears to be from the terms of his Question. It is very hard indeed to decide what information to seek from private firms but, as I have said, if any future survey is carried out, something will have been learnt from this attempt.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Can my hon. Friend say whether there is a possibility of this very important survey, which is very useful, being repeated in the near future?

Mr. Nicholls

No plans have as yet been made for it to be repeated. The lessons to be learnt from the first survey are still being looked into.