HC Deb 09 February 1959 vol 599 cc844-5
22. Mr. Darling

asked the Paymaster-General what official organisation exists for the purpose of co-ordinating research into fuel resources, improvements in the uses of fuels, and the wider questions of fuel, power and industrial energy which cannot satisfactorily be examined by the separate research departments of the fuel and power industries.

18. Mr. Albu

asked the Paymaster-General what recent progress has been made to co-ordinate and develop research in the most economic utilisation of coal as a source of energy.

Sir I. Horobin

My noble Friend's Scientific Advisory Council is concerned with the co-ordination and development of research into the utilisation of our fuel resources. It works under an independent chairman, and its members include representatives of the fuel and power industries, the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research and independent experts from industry and the universities.

As my noble Friend announced in another place on 21st Januury, he has asked this Council to give special attention to the progress of the work which is being done by the Government, the nationalised industries and private industry on the expansion of existing uses and development of new uses of coal.

Mr. Darling

Is the Minister satisfied that these arrangements are wide enough to cover the problem we now have to face? Would he agree that one of the greatest problems at the moment is to make the fullest use of our coal resources, and that that problem will be one of the greatest for a long time to come? Would he not agree that it is not sufficient, in tackling that, to leave research in the departmentalised way in which it is left now, and that there should be more coordination and a lot more money spent on research into this important matter?

Sir I. Horobin

The question of money is largely a matter for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but the Scientific Advisory Council is a body of very high standing, and I can assure the hon. Member that it is at this moment taking into consideration not only research done by my Department but by the gas industry and other bodies into this matter with which, like the hon. Member, we have very great concern.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Can the hon. Gentleman state the amount which is being spent on research into this vitally important matter by the boards and by the Government?

Sir I. Horobin

I am afraid that I should have to have notice of that because it appears under so many different heads, but I will certainly give the right hon. Gentleman the information if he will put down a Question.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Would the hon. Gentleman consider that it is a trifling sum compared with the enormous turnover which there is in the fuel industries?