HC Deb 05 April 1965 vol 710 cc18-9
20. Dr. Wyndham Davies

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he is satisfied that the present level of expenditure of the Royal Navy on underwater research is adequate to meet the potential of this research for defence and for humanitarian needs; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu

The importance of underwater research is fully recognised and a significant part of our available research and development effort is devoted to ensuring that the Navy has an effective under sea capability.

The requirements for underwater research are currently being studied within the Department of Defence and we shall be in a better position to determine whether any change is necessary in the present level of effort when the study is completed.

Dr. Davies

I thank the hon. Gentleman, but may I ask whether he is aware that there is a tremendous future not only in underwater weapons development through the two types of nuclear-powered submarines but in potentiality for our merchant fleet in certain aspects of underwater research? In addition, the Navy is the only body in this country engaged in research of a humanitarian nature which might be of great importance in supplying the protein requirements of under-developed countries from fish farming—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speech."]—and—

Mr. Speaker

Order. It would be convenient for the Under-Secretary of State now to answer as far as we have got.

Mr. Mallalieu

I can only repeat that we really do understand the importance of all of this.

Mr. Ogden

Is the Ministry of Technology playing any part in this research and development?

Mr. Mallalieu

The responsibility for some part of this will pass to the Department of Education and Science. I should require notice about the Ministry of Technology.