HC Deb 07 April 1964 vol 692 cc798-800
Q6. Dr. Dickson Mabon

asked the Prime Minister what arrangements he is making to co-ordinate the activities of the Minister of Health, the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Secretary of State for Education and Science so that Her Majesty's Government can extend an invitation to the World Health Organisation to establish its proposed £100 million international health research centre in the United Kingdom.

The Prime Minister

I would refer the hon. Member to my reply on 26th March to the hon. Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. K. Robinson).

Dr. Mabon

Is the Prime Minister aware that the Minister of Health has consistently appeared unsympathetic to this proposal while the Secretary of State for Scotland has been very enthusiastic and the Secretary of State for Education and Science totally indifferent? Is it not the case that we need leadership here, and would he consider suggesting that the Government are in favour of this project and welcome it to this country?

The Prime Minister

We have based our attitude, as I think the hon. Member knows, on the advice of the Council on Scientific Policy. On two points they have been agreed. The one on which there has been disagreement so far is the establishment of a large scientific laboratory for biological research. On the recommendation of the Advisory Council that is not thought to be advisable. In this view we have been supported by a great majority of the countries which have considered this matter.

Mr. K. Robinson

Is not the Prime Minister aware that in the week before the Easter Recess we had Answers from the Minister of Health, the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland and the Leader of the House on the question of the World Health Centre which were completely contradictory? In those circumstances does he think that there is something to be said for co-ordinating arrangements in this case? Would he care to take the opportunity to state categorically whether, with the proviso which he has just mentioned, the Government support this idea?

The Prime Minister

We have asked the Director-General of the World Health Organisation to give further consideration of this matter of the international laboratory because as a result of the international discussions the great majority of countries including our own, have not felt that it is desirable at present.

Mr. H. Wilson

But if that is the Government's decision, if that is the line which they have taken at Geneva, why, a few days before the Easter Recess, did the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland in the House express the full support of the Government, saying that they were doing everything in their power to get this establishment in Scotland when the Government have not even made up their mind whether there should be one?

The Prime Minister

That is hardly true. What my hon. Friend was saying was that if it is decided to have such a laboratory, then of course Scotland has a claim for it.

Mr. Wilson

The impression which the Minister gave to the House was that the decision lay not in the hands of this country. He gave no impression whatever that it was the Government who were sending this back for further examination.

The Prime Minister

It was sent back from everybody for further examination—including three Commonwealth countries and other countries concerned in the matter.