HC Deb 04 December 1962 vol 668 cc1127-8
22. Mr. Mason

asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what steps his Department is taking to prevent the loss of trained scientists and rocket technologists from this country to the United States of America as a result of cancelled rocket projects such as Blue Streak and Blue Water; and what success he is achieving in encouraging those who have left to return to Great Britain.

Mr. Denzil Freeth

The hon. Member is under a misapprehension as regards the Blue Streak project.

My noble Friend is confident that industry, which is still short of qualified scientists and engineers, will be quick to avail itself of opportunities arising from adjustments in the defence programme.

As regards the last part of the Question, the special Interviewing Board recruited 43 British scientists and technologists in North America last year for posts in this country.

Mr. Mason

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that that is after much pressure from this side of the House? The Civil Service Commission should do more than that. I am pleased to see that, prior to his Reply, it was reported that they have been brought back. Is it not most frustrating for scientists, technologists, and rocket teams in this country who have been developing Blue Streak and Blue Water that there is no planned development within the civil and military fields for rocketry? These people, having got to a certain stage, are frustrated. The projects are cancelled, and then, because of this frustration, they go to America and Canada to take up appointments there. Is not the hon. Gentleman further aware that the Atomic Energy Authority is going through the same frustrating period? It is being run down, too, and there seems to be no assistance or guidance from his Department, which appears to be in existence in name only. In substance it is a myth.

Mr. Freeth

I think that the hon. Gentleman must ask my right hon. Friend the Minister of Aviation questions about the Blue Streak project and its continuation in connection with the European Launcher Development Organisation. The fact remains that industry in general in this country is still very short of scientists and technologists, and I hope that we shall be able to absorb all those whom the cancellation or adaptation of particular projects make surplus to the needs of their individual firms. I think that it would be wrong for us to decide to undertake a particular line of research solely to keep in this country people who happen to be interested in it.