HC Deb 13 March 1958 vol 584 cc598-9
3. Mr. Kimball

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, as representing the Lord President of the Council, what practical benefits are to be expected from the expenditure by the Nature Conservancy of £2,720 for research into bird vocalisations.

Mr. Godber

The sum referred to by my hon. Friend was for a period of four years from 1st October, 1953. Research on bird vocalisations plays an important part in the general programme of fundamental research into animal behaviour. My noble Friend could not accept the implication that the value of such research is necessarily to be measured solely in terms of practical benefit, but he understands that in this case, in addition to its intrinsic value, it is hoped that the results will prove of practical advantage in the protection of crops against bird depredations by the use of mechanically recorded warning notes.

Mr. Kimball

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, while none of us would deny that these researches may be of the greatest possible interest to many ornithologists throughout the countryside, they would be far better carried out by the zoology experts from the universities, and many of us feel that these activities have nothing to do with nature conservancy work throughout the country?

Mr. Remnant

The money would be better spent on killing grey squirrels.

Mr. Godber

I am sure that the universities carry on useful work. The work of the Nature Conservancy in this respect is helpful. After all, bird vocalisation is practised not only by birds, as one notices.