HC Deb 17 December 1963 vol 686 cc1035-7
27. Mr. Oram

asked the Lord President of the Council and Minister for Science what sum is provided annually from public funds for cancer research; and how this compares with the 1 per cent. of defence expenditure suggested as a contribution to an international institute under the proposal endorsed by General de Gaulle.

29. Mr. D. Griffiths

asked the Lord President of the Council and Minister for Science how much money has been made available by Her Majesty's Government, during the financial year 1962–63, for cancer research.

Mr. Hogg

The French scheme referred to in the first of the two Questions envisaged ½ per cent. and not 1 per cent. of defence expenditure.

The sum spent specifically on cancer research by the Medical Research Council in 1962–63 was about £750,000. It is expected to rise in the current year to about £950,000. To this must be added relevant research carried on by universities, and at hospitals in the course of treatment of patients. In addition a great deal of basic research which may well throw light on problems of this disease is supported out of public funds. It is not possible to give a realistic estimate of the total cost.

Mr. Oram

But is not that figure one of the things that is just not what it ought to be. Does it not reveal that far too little money is at present being provided? Secondly, is it not shown that an international institute is very urgently needed, and can we be assured that the Government will play a vigorous part in getting such an institution going?

Mr. Hogg

As regards the last part of the hon. Member's supplementary question, two very distinguished official scientists are at present discussing the matter, I think in Paris. As regards the first part of his question, the amount of activity on research must depend upon the availability of suitable manpower and promising leads. I have asked the question again and again of those who advise me, but these things are not simply determined by the amount of money devoted to them.

Mr. Griffiths

Is the Lord President of the Council aware that the Government, and he himself, should be completely ashamed of themselves for giving such a meagre amount? We all congratulate the voluntary bodies on the wonderful assistance given to scientific research into cancer, but does he not think that the Government should provide much more than £¾ million?

Mr. Hogg

No, Sir.

Sir C. Osborne

Can my right hon. Friend give an assurance that real research into cancer is in no way hampered by lack of funds?

Mr. Hogg

As regards the Medical Research Council, certainly.

Mr. G. Thomas

Is the Lord President of the Council aware that flag days are being held to raise money for cancer research? Does he not think that there is something wrong if we have to raise our funds for research in that way?

Mr. Hogg

I certainly see nothing wrong in people paying for the relief of human pain and suffering out of their own pockets; on the contrary, I think it highly praiseworthy. As to general policy, I regard the multiplicity of resources for research as of the greatest value to scientific integrity.