HC Deb 19 March 1964 vol 691 cc1587-9
Q3. Mr. P. Noel-Baker

asked the Prime Minister what consultations he had with the Prime Ministers of other Commonwealth countries before Her Majesty's Government instructed their delegate in the World Health Organisation to vote against the establishment of an International Institute of Medical Research, which would have been of benefit to the peoples of these countries.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

I have been asked to reply.

The right hon. Member is under some misapprehension. No instructions have been given to vote against the proposed establishment of a World Health Research Centre. On the contrary, we voted for the Resolution adopted in the World Health Assembly on 17th March requesting the Director-General to continue studies of the subject and report to the Executive Board and the World Health Assembly.

Mr. Noel-Baker

May I thank the Leader of the House for his Answer, congratulate him on its contents, and rejoice that the Press reports were untrue? Will he press on the Prime Minister and his colleagues that an earlier international research institute, C.E.R.N.—concerned with nuclear research—has done immense service in stimulating national research, and that this medical institute will do the same?

Mr. Lloyd

As the right hon. Gentleman is, I am sure, aware, a proposal for a World Health Research Centre has fallen into three main parts—first epidemiological studies, that means the incidence of disease; secondly, a centre for assembling and processing information and, thirdly, by means of establishing a large international laboratory for biological research. On the first two, there is little difference of opinion. On the third, the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy has advised strongly against, but the matter is being considered. The Director-General is making a further study of the matter which will be decided in the light of that study by the countries concerned.

Mr. Noel-Baker

On the question of the biological research institute, is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that the nuclear research experiment, C.E.R.N., is of great relevance and points strongly in favour of establishing the Research Centre?

Mr. Lloyd

We will certainly take that precedent into account, but we must also have regard to the views of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy.

Mr. K. Robinson

Will the right hon. Gentleman clear up some of the confusion surrounding this matter? Does he not agree that last week the British delegate at the World Health Assembly, who is the Chief Medical Officer of the Ministry of Health, poured cold water on the whole of this idea? If the Government are now in favour of the idea and if further negotiations are proceeding at Geneva, will he frankly admit that there has been a change of policy?

Mr. Lloyd

No, because the hon. Gentleman has got the matter quite wrong. We are in favour of the idea of a World Health Centre. The point at which some doubt has arisen concerns the advice we have received from the Advisory Council, which is a very powerful body under the chairmanship of Lord Todd. That advice has been flat against the suggestion, and our representative, when he made his speech, indicated our doubts on that third point, but not on the project as a whole.

Sir B. Stross

Has the right hon. and learned Gentleman in mind the location of this centre? Has he noted the fact that a number of hon. Members have tabled a Motion suggesting that it should be located in the United Kingdom, and will he give favourable consideration to that suggestion?

Mr. Lloyd

Certainly, and I understand that certain other countries are already suggesting that it should go to them. I see no reason why, if it is created, it should not come to us.

Mr. Jay

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that his answers are at any rate more informative than those of the Prime Minister?