HC Deb 05 April 1965 vol 710 cc17-8
19. Dr. Wyndham Davies

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what was the expenditure on oceanography by the Royal Navy in the years 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, and 1964; and what is the projected expenditure for the next financial year.

Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu

Expenditure on oceanography by the Navy Department during the financial years 1960–61 to 1964–65 is assessed at £140,000. £500,000, £550,000, £425,000 and £590,000 respectively. During 1965–66 it is expected to be £590,000.

The figures for the first five years include the Department's share of the cost of providing the new ship R.R.S. "Discovery" and of the grant to the National Institute of Oceanography. From 1965–66 onwards financial responsibility for the Institute will no longer rest with the Navy Department.

Dr. Davies

While welcoming that reply, I would ask the hon. Gentleman to bear in mind that, during the last few years, this country, instead of taking a lead in oceanographic and hydrographic research, is falling very much behind both the United States and Russia. Will the Navy Department pay every attention to this in future?

Mr. Mallalieu

We shall certainly pay every attention to it. If we are behind in this respect, then our determination to catch up is indicated by the fact that we are to spend more this year.

Mr. Wingfield Digby

As so many matters are being reviewed at the present time, will the hon. Gentleman look at the priorities again in view of the enhanced importance of oceanography in the last year or two?

Mr. Mallalieu

Yes, Sir. This is being studied all the time. We in the Navy Department consider this a matter of prime importance.