§ Mr. David Price (Eastleigh)
I beg to move Amendment No. 1, in page 1, line 12, to leave out "the Science Research Council and".
I have been asked by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wallasey (Mr. Marples) to apologise for his absence from the Committee this evening. Unfortunately, he is suffering from laryngitis and, without the use of his voice, he could make little contribution to our discussions. My hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) and I will do our best to take his place, although I do not think that we can emulate my right hon. Friend's characteristic panache.
As I am sure the Committee would appreciate, this is not intended to be a belligerent Amendment. Nor is the next. 258 Rather, it is a probing Amendment, as is the next. Here we are setting up two new research councils, both dedicated to the Haldane principle, about which I spoke—I think, with general approval—on the Second Reading of the Bill. I think that it is only fitting that they should have some form of parliamentary baptism.
If the Trend Committee can be said to be the parent of these two research councils, I think that my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) and the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State can be said to be their godparents. Furthermore, I think that it would have been discourteous both to the Secretary of State and to the two new research councils to have raised the points which I wish to raise on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill", rather than by the more precise means which I have used. I realise that this Amendment is technically inelegant, but, as my purpose is to stage a short discussion rather than to press an Amendment, I trust that the Committee will forgive me. I hope, also, that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State will accept that my comments are intended to be helpful—though, possibly, not easy to answer off the cuff—rather than, as I said at the beginning, to be belligerent.
I should like, very briefly, to compare the Secretary of State's proposals for the Science Research Council with those of his predecessor, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone. Of course, they follow them very closely, but there are certain minor variations, and I should be very grateful if the Secretary of State would care to comment on them. I take, as the authoritative text, what two Secretaries of State have said—the Secretary of State's statement in his Written Answer on 26th November last year and his comments on the Second Reading, and my right hon. and learned Friend's Written Answer on 28th July of last year.
As I see it, the first task of the Science Research Council will be the allocation of research and postgraduate grants. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State said on 26th November that this council would… take over the functions of the D.S.I.R. in respect of research grants and postgraduate training awards not within the fields, 259 of the other Councils."—[OFFICIAL. REPORT, 26th November, 1964 Vol. 702, c. 206.]My right hon. and learned Friend said the same thing on 28th July.
If hon. Members look at page 40 of the Annual Report of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy for 1963–64, they will find the figures for the D.S.I.R. contribution to research at the universities and colleges of advanced technology. It is interesting to note that these have increased from just under £1 million—£920,000 to be precise—in the academic year 1957–58 to over £8 million in the current year. Does the Secretary of State visualise this trend continuing or does he visualise stabilising it for the moment at about the present figure? Secondly, how does he envisage the relationship working between the Council on Scientific Policy and the new Science Research Council on the selection of priorities as to the fields of endeavour which the Science Research Council, going into details, would be minded to support?
As I said on Second Reading, I think with the general approval of the House, the real problem of the Government, and indeed of the nation, in the deployment of our scientific effort is that of selection. With our limited resources, substantial though they be, we have an urgent and continuing problem of selection. This is just as true in sponsored research in the universities as it is in the fields of research directly undertaken by central Government. I am sure that the Committee would like to hear the Secretary of State's views on those problems.
In winding up the Second Reading debate the Joint Under-Secretary of State may not have had time to answer these questions, and possibly I have not given the Secretary of State sufficient notice today, but we should like to hear his views on the governmental administrative problems in connection with selection. I am sure that we should all reject the idea of university scientists receiving their grants on the basis of Buggins' turn, whether talking about individual scientists or about selections between competing fields or about selections between competing institutions.
I realise that the more one selects, the more open one is to being criticised for ignoring certain powerful interests and certain universities who feel that 260 they are being left out in the cold. But in my view the allocation of grants must fit into a general pattern of scientific priorities. This is why I raised the question of how the Science Research Council would work vis-à-vis the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy.
Secondly, it must be based on national scientific possibility. There is quite a case to be made for supporting further the fields in which we are already successful rather than saying, "There are some matters which we are ignoring. We have no one any good here, and we ought to have". There is a great case to be made for supporting success.
Thirdly, we must look at our priorities in terms of available human excellence. There is a lot to be said for supporting a top man, and supporting him with his research students. It would be invidious to give names, but one recalls recent Nobel Prize winners. The Medical Research Council has shown a good deal of imagination in support of certain distinguished men with an international reputation. Fourthly, selection must have relation to current views of national economic need.
How are these priorities to be selected? It seems to me that there are three bodies concerned. There is the Secretary of State himself, supported by his Department. There is the Council on Scientific Policy. There is the Science Research Council, which we are setting up in the Bill. There is also a fourth interested body, the University Grants Committee, because I believe that the money which is allocated through the Science Research Council has an influence on what is done in a particular university. I do not know whether the Secretary of State is in a position to tell us whether he can see some method of meeting the difficulty, such as having a member of the University Grants Committee as one of the members of his new Science Research Council. I am sure that we should all be interested to hear his observations on the matter.
There is one separate matter which, I believe, arises in this context, and that is the problem of the emigration of scientists. The Committee knows that quite a number of steps were taken by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone, but there is one particular step about which I 261 should like to ask the Secretary of State in this context. He will recall that on 31st January my right hon. and learned Friend said that:The Department of Scientific and Industrial Research is prepared to consider applications for post-doctoral fellowships from scientists who propose to leave for research experience overseas, and who wish to take up their fellowship on their return."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st January 1964; Vol. 688 c.101.]This, it seems to me, was an intelligent proposal. Is the Secretary of State in a position to tell us what progress has been made in this direction? Has sufficient experience been gained by the Secretary of State to let us know whether he sees this having a major influence on keeping our scientists in this country? Although we all agree that it is useful for them to go abroad for a spell, what worries us is when they go abroad for good.
In this context, I wonder whether one of the problems has been that of insufficiency of equipment experienced by particulars scientists and whether one of the attractions of going to the United States is the greater availability of equipment, rather more than the question of salary. I should be interested to hear what the Secretary of State says about that.
Turning to the other responsibilities of the Science Research Council, as far as I can see the proposals by my right hon. and learned Friend and the Secretary of State's intentions are precisely the same. The Science Research Council will take over responsibility for the activities of the National Institute for Research in Nuclear Science, the Radio Research Station and the Royal Observatories. On this side of the Committee we entirely agree with the reasoning behind these changes, which the Secretary of State elaborated on Second Reading.
One technical matter arises in relation to the National Institute for Research in Nuclear Science—the Rutherford Laboratory. My hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon (Mr. Neave) will seek later in our proceedings to raise a number of points about the pay and conditions of employment of staff in the Rutherford Laboratory who, under the Bill, are to be transferred from the Atomic Energy Authority. I will content myself with the general point, with which I am sure the Committee agrees, that staff should 262 not be worse off or even feel worse off, which may not necessarily be the same thing, as the result of the transfer of their laboratory from one parent body to another. I am sure that there is general agreement about that.
I will not go into the whole question of scientists working in publicly financed research stations. If the House sees fit to set up a Select Committee on Science and Technology that would be an appropriate body to go into such a subject in detail. But I will make one point with which I am sure hon. Members who take an interest in the question will agree: these are subjects which we ought to discuss in the House, though I do not think that they are very suitable for general debate on the Floor.
On Second Reading the Secretary of State told us thatthe Science Research Council will also advise on United Kingdom policy towards international research bodies …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th December, 1964; Vol. 703, c. 1982.]He quoted C.E.R.N., the European Centre for Nuclear Research, and E.S.R.O. the European Space Research Organisation. These are in accord with the proposals of my right hon. Friend. But I wonder whether the Secretary of State will say a word about the expansion of the activities of C.E.R.N. It is within the knowledge of a number of us that this has been under discussion recently. If he cannot say tonight what will be the Government's views, perhaps he can give an indication when we can reasonably expect a Government statement on the proposal to build an even greater and loftier accelerator at Geneva.
Secondly, will the Science Research Council advise on our participation in the European Nuclear Energy Agency—in neither of the right hon. Gentleman's proposals have I found any reference to that Agency—or will it be left to the Atomic Energy Authority, which I presume comes under the Minister of Technology—or does it come under the Minister of Power? It is important to keep both the European body and the Atomic Energy Authority in their reactor development programme working in close co-operation with the Central Electricity Generating Board, which—let us face it—is the ultimate customer for any successful work done in power reactor development.
263 Can the Secretary of State tell us whether E.L.D.O. comes with E.S.R.O. under the Science Research Council? By dint of answers to Questions in the House, I assume that it comes under the Ministry of Aviation. I will not discuss the space responsibilities of the Science Research Council now because there is a later Amendment on the subject.
Can the Secretary of State tell us whether the Science Research Council will take over responsibility for our participation in other scientific bodies as they come along, or would I be right in presuming that it would take responsibility only in fields that would not be covered by the other research councils? Many of us can see a considerable expansion in international project work in medical research. We have heard of the discussion about European co-operation in respect of cancer. I presume that this would come under the Medical Research Council and not the Science Research Council. There is also oceanography, in which there is excellent scope for international co-operation and projects. Presumably, it would come under the second new research council. There is also meteorology, a natural subject for international or world co-operation.
Finally, is the Secretary of State in a position to tell us about the appointments that he intends to make to the Science Research Council, or does he have to wait until the Bill becomes an Act before he can appoint anyone? Perhaps he might feel able to indicate the numbers that he would propose to have on the Council and the balance of experiences that he would like to see represented when he makes his appointments.
I repeat that the Opposition give the Science Research Council a very hearty welcome, but I should be grateful if the Secretary of State could reply to some of my questions, which, I feel, are pertinent.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Michael Stewart)
I agree with the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Mr. David Price) in regretting the absence of the right hon. Member for Wallasey (Mr. Marples). We read of the reason for it with regret, especially as we remember the lively speech that he made on the Second Reading of the Bill.
264 The hon. Gentleman said that perhaps the Amendments were a little inelegant. I would go a little further. As they stand, they would leave the Bill completely meaningless. They would require the establishment of two bodies, both of which would then be deleted from the Bill. However, the art of drafting Amendments is learned in opposition, and I am sure that hon. Gentlemen opposite will do better with the passage of the years. I take the point that the hon. Member made, that really my speech now is in a sense one on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill".
The hon. Gentleman asked about the trend of expenditure on scientific research. One must expect expenditure in this field and in all fields of research to grow as total national resources grow. As in any growing organism, the parts of it, particularly those which are brain centres, have to grow with the rest if the organism is to remain healthy. It would not be a question of thinking of this as a figure at which it would stabilise.
The hon. Gentleman asked whether the trend will continue. If that means whether we are to expect a uniform percentage rate of growth each year, that seems exactly the kind of question on which one ought not to try to bind the future, for the reasons that the hon. Gentleman gave when he was discussing the art of selection of different projects for research. Out of the total amount of resources that the country feels that it can devote to what I might call the intellectual future—that is to say, the capital investment that takes the form not so much of producing a machinery, but of investing in thought and discovery—we have to consider the kind of research for which the Science Research Council will be responsible and that for which the other research councils and others to be set up under the Bill will be responsible, and other research carried on in universities and supported from public funds. As the hon. Gentleman said, it is a question of selecting priorities.
If one looks at any one part of the whole field of research, taking, for example, that part which falls within the field of the Science Research Council, and asks at what rate it will expand, the answer must be, "This can be decided only in the light of a comparison of those kinds of research with all the other kinds 265 of research for which other research councils and bodies are responsible." So it would not be sensible to start in advance predicting the rate by which any one line of research would expand.
I take the general question that the hon. Gentleman asked about the selection of research projects—the whole question of priorities in research. I think the machinery is plain enough. The Science Research Council and the other research councils are responsible for seeing that the research is carried on. They have the problem of priorities within their sphere. The Science Research Council has to try to decide what fields of knowledge fall within its responsibility, where it is most sensible to try to make exceptional advance and to put in exceptional effort at any given time, and where that would not be so suitable. It has to decide that in the knowledge of what total funds are likely to be available to it.
But there is the larger problem that faces the Government. The Science Research Council is not the only Council. The other research councils will similarly be considering the priorities within their own fields. Finally, the nation, through the Government, has to decide the major question of priorities—that is, the priorities between the claims of the various groups of research represented by the various councils.
It is for that function that the Council on Scientific Policy is needed. It has what one might call the supreme function of advising the Government on the major allocation of the total funds available to research between the different councils, either established or to be established under the Bill. Then, of course, its advice has to be taken in the knowledge of what is being done in research by bodies other than the councils, for instance, work done at universities and financed through other sources.
The hon. Member asked on what principles we make these selections. He will realise, however, that he then proceeded to give quite a good answer to his own question. I think that I said on Second Reading that one of the problems of bringing together men of science and men of Government was that men of science like to know and men of Government realise that very often they have to guess.
266 Here, above all, we are in a line of activity in which what we have to look for is highly intelligent guess work—and I do not use that word in any light hearted sense. But it is in the nature of guessing because nothing could be more ignorant or more fatal to research than to demand proof before one begins on a certain product that it will be productive and will yield measurable results in a measurable time. Whatever approaches may be right, that one certainly is not.
It can happen in scientific discovery that one uses resources, skilled manpower and protracted studies, but comes to a dead end. In taking the short-term view, one might say that all this has been wasted yet it may well be the case that it was essential to the advancement of knowledge to find out first whether that road led anywhere or not. That is why I say that there must be, to some extent, guess work, but there are some Government activities in which one can proceed with something like certainty.
I take as an example another section of my own activities. I know that work on particular building programmes will provide a certain number of school places. In this case, however, I am not in such a position, but must use a degree of guess work. The vital thing is that the guess work should be as intelligent as possible and that is the purpose of this whole apparatus of councils and of the Council on Scientific Policy. The purpose of the proposed Council on Scientific Policy is to survey the whole field and advise the Government accordingly.
What sort of guiding lines can there be for such intelligent guess work? I think that it can be done by listing the needs we have to bear in mind. One of these obviously involves the sum total of the resources that the nation can make available for scientific research. There again, however, one cannot deal with the problem by saying at the outset that the Government will make available a fixed figure on which scientists must work. The scientists might say that that sum of money will not do, that it might enable them to make inadequate progress in certain directions and that possibly either more or less might be better according to what the Government feel is possible.
We can only start with a figure as a provisional sum. Then we have to consider the comparative relation of the 267 different projects to obvious and admitted human needs. That is a tricky problem because one may fall into the error of trying to demand more from scientific research in the nature of immediate usefulness than is wise. None the less, this criterion must come in to some extent and there have been periods in history when it is clear that a great deal of human intelligence has been devoted to trying to solve problems which a moderate amount of common sense would have shown could not be of great use to mankind in any way.
We must take that into account to some extent and ask whether a project is clearly very likely to have fairly speedy relevance to increasing the total wealth of the nation. If it has, then, of course, it can be claimed that it will not only be valuable in itself as a piece of research, but that it will help other researches as well by increasing the resources on which they are carried out.
In medical research it is a little easy for a layman to give meaning to the phrase "obvious and admitted human needs". Another factor to be taken into account—and in this we must rely very heavily on expert advice—is the possibilities of what are sometimes called "break-throughs" in particular directions. Can it be said of any branch of discovery, "This is the critical moment. Throwing in more resources fairly speedily will make all the difference"? If one can demonstrate that, or make it appear probable in one line of research rather than another, a score is chalked up for that line.
One must also consider, as the hon. Gentleman said, who is available to do the job. It is not sensible to resolve that one will give high priority to a branch of research in which at present one cannot feel that one has available people who both have capacity to do the job and want to do it. One must be guided here of course by what a man wants to do.
I remember many years ago visiting Dresden and being told of a scientist who was virtually imprisoned by the Elector of Saxony with instructions to find out how to turn other metals into gold. He never succeeded in doing that, but he did develop porcelain on the way. Come to think of it, that story perhaps 268 suggests that there is, after all, something to be said for compelling scientists. However, the general moral of history points in another direction.
One must also generally take into account who is available to carry on the job. The point raised by the hon. Member about C.E.R.N. is really an example of this kind of thing. One can undoubtedly say that it is an important branch of research. It is not one that can be dismissed by saying that it has little relation to obvious and admitted human need at the moment. Nevertheless, it is very expensive and one must weigh in the scale against it the amount of resources it will take away from many other branches of knowledge.
I ask the hon. Gentleman to excuse me from being more precise in answering that point. Indeed, I cannot answer all the questions he put, but I have tried to put the factors that will be taken into acount in trying to answer basic questions of priorities. But there remains the final unknown. These factors are not all qualitatively alike. One cannot just add or subtract them. They are qualitatively different. How does one, at the end of the day, evaluate them? This is not the work of science in itself. This must be an art.
To take an example from a different subject, but embodying the same principle; the housing committee of a local authority trying to work a points scheme for applicants for vacancies in its housing also has to make a list of things to be taken into account—the number of years on the waiting list, size of the present accommodation, considerations of health, and so on—and finally has to say how much time on the waiting list is worth how serious a report from the doctor as to the health of the family concerned. I know of no scientific technique for weighing those two against each other. In the end, it must be a matter of judgment and evaluation. I do not think that one can get further than that.
It therefore seems to me that the arrangements for bringing forward all these different factors to be taken into consideration should be as straightforward and as tidy as possible and that we should attract into our service people as able as possible to advise on the final decision 269 which one has to take. That is part of the purpose of the Bill. If we are ever to perform satisfactorily this incredibly difficult job of judging scientific priorities, the organisation for doing it must be reasonably tidy. That has been in the mind of the Government, as it was in the mind of the previous Government.
Although I cannot answer, and do not believe that anyone can give a final answer, the question of how to evaluate all these, I merely say that these are the things which have to be taken into consideration and that there are certain errors which must be avoided, such as the error of Buggins's turn and the error of asking for results too quickly. In the end, one is more likely to get the right answer if the organisation of the councils is such that it is reasonably easy to get a clear picture of what the problem is. I remember hearing a scientist saying on television last night that one of the most important things in science was to know what were the right questions. One of the reasons why we want to make these changes is that we believe that they will make it more likely that the right questions will be spotted.
The hon. Gentleman advanced one principle about which I feel a little doubtful, his principle of reinforcing success. I appreciate some of the argument for it, but if we are not careful, that might be a trend which would lead us to run away with far too many resources on one brand of research to the neglect of others. One ought always to be asking, if one thing is being outstandingly successful, the reverse question—why some of the others are failures. One cannot lose sight of one of the other factors, which we have both mentioned, which is the relation to clear and obvious human need. If it is found that one branch of discovery is being amazingly successful but that there are others closely related to human need which are not, it is not sufficient to say that we should reinforce success. One must ask why there is failure in the others, and that may affect the judgment of resources.
The hon. Gentleman referred to arrangements which could be made to reduce the likelihood of distinguished scientists going abroad. We are proceeding with this problem. I am not in a position to make a further statement 270 about it now, but I certainly do not overlook it. I think that it is true that equipment is at least as important as personal salary in affecting where a man wants to work. Equipment means scope, the opportunity to feel that a man is using his capacities to the full and doing a job worth doing.
The hon. Gentleman mentioned the staff of N.E.R.C. I want to repeat what I said on Second Reading—that certainly nobody will be worse off. The hon. Gentleman put a slightly higher target—that nobody should feel worse off. It is always a little difficult to make oneself responsible for the feelings of other people, but I will go so far as to say that nobody will have just cause to feel worse off. I am sure that that will be so. I think that it would be proper to wait until the relevant Amendment is moved before dealing with the particular point in this connection.
We are, of course, proceeding with trying to assemble the people who will be needed and without whom the work cannot be done, but we have to wait until the Bill is a stage further towards becoming law, because until then we cannot make appointments in a formal sense.
I recognise that I have not covered all the hon. Gentleman's questions. Some of them are questions which mankind has been asking ever since it began to think rationally, and nobody has yet provided the answer.
§ Mr. Stewart
The right hon. and learned Gentleman must give us a little more time.
However, I think that I have covered most of what has been said. I should like to study the report of what the hon. Gentleman has said to see whether I can give him further information on a suitable occasion.
§ Mr. David Price
I thank the Secretary of State for a very helpful reply. My Amendment having served its purpose admirably. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.271
§ Mr. David Price
I beg to move Amendment No. 2, in page 1, line 12, to leave out "and the Natural Environment Research Council".
The Secretary of State will guess that, like the previous Amendment, this is intended simply as a means of discussing the new Natural Environment Research Council. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of my not knowing a great deal about how to draft Amendments, but I put these Amendments in this inelegant way, knowing that it was inelegant, for the purpose of eliciting from the right hon. Gentleman just the sort of speech which we have just had.
I thought that it was fairer to him and the Ministry to put these considerations in this way rather than to wait for the debate on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill", when I might have raised any subject which came within the scope of the Clause. Having experienced it in reverse, I knew how one could get caught out on that discussion by a difficult question of which one had not had notice.
I am sure that the establishment of the Natural Environment Research Council will be welcome not only by the Committee, but in many parts of the country. It follows the recommendations of the Slater Committee and the Trend Report and I think that it is fair to say that some of the sciences which will be covered by the Council have been rather the Cinderellas of research. The right hon. Gentleman may have had one or two of them in mind when he took up my comment that one of the important factors in selection should be supporting success.
I did not wish to prolong the debate, but what I would have said would have been in the context of more international co-operation, because I do not believe that this country can hope to put in a major effort, on the scale deserved by the subjects, right across the frontier of known knowledge. That is why our problem of selection is very much harder than that in the United States of America or the Soviet Union.
In his Written Answer on 26th November, the right hon. Gentleman said that the Council would support research in earth sciences and ecology. In his Written Answer on 28th July, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Mary- 272 lebone (Mr. Hogg) described the scope of the Council as being the environmental sciences and natural resources. Is there any difference between the two? Are these alternative words which the right hon. Gentleman prefers to the words used by my right hon. and learned Friend, who specified a number of sciences? I would be glad if the right hon. Gentleman would tell the Commitee whether what he called the earth sciences include all those which my right hon. and learned Friends listed and whether he has in mind adding others.
The list given by my right hon. and learned Friend was as follows: geophysics; geology; oceanography; fisheries; hydrology; forestry; terrestial ecology; and nature conservancy. I would ask the Secretary of State whether, as under my right hon. and learned Friend's proposal, the Natural Environment Research Council will be responsible for research grants and postgraduate fellowships and training awards in the fields covered by the Council in the same way as applies to the Science Research Council.
On the taking over of research bodies, I think that there was common ground between my right hon. and learned Friend and the right hon. Gentleman that the Nature Conservancy, the Geological Survey and Museum, the Hydrology Research Unit and the National Institute of Oceanography should come under the Natural Environment Research Council. In addition, the Development Commission in relation to marine and freshwater biology and fisheries will be transferred. I noticed that in my right hon. and learned Friend's proposal he mentioned soil surveys. I do not know whether the Secretary of State has in mind including soil surveys. I should like him to tell us whether that is so.
My right hon. and learned Friend also proposed that the Council would establish a Fisheries Advisory Committee on the same lines as the present Advisory Committee on Fishery Research of the Development Commission. If I understood the Secretary of State correctly on Second Reading, he intends to do the same thing.
In his statement, my right hon. and learned Friend said on hydrology that the Council would maintain close contact with the Water Resources Board. On 273 Second Reading, the Secretary of State said that the Minister of Land and Natural Resources would be closely interested in some of the work of the N.E.R.C. Do I gather from the right hon. Gentleman that the Minister of Land and Natural Resources will be the Minister responsible for water and water conservation? This certainly was not clear to me when we discussed the Machinery of Government Bill.
I wish to ask the Secretary of State one or two further questions. I should like to know whether he proposes, like my right hon. and learned Friend, to support research in geomagnetism and seismology undertaken by the Meteorological Office. Have we enough seismologists in this country, particularly if we succeed in making further progress on disarmament control where seismologists will be essential?
Secondly, does he visualise further international co-operation over the whole field of the earth sciences? If such cooperation takes place, would it be through this new Council or the Science Research Council?
Thirdly, I wish to raise a point which is parochial to my part of the world, namely, what relationship the Secretary of State envisages between this research council and the Ordnance Survey. Fourthly, does he envisage any work being done on human ecology, or will that matter come under a social sciences council if such a body is set up? Are we doing enough on oceanography? I know that a view has been expressed by a number of scientists and laymen about the effort that we make on such things as nature conservancy.
When we get into the field of high energy physics, the sums are vast. But the sea is all round this island. We are still a maritime Power, and there is still great wealth in the sea even though it is widely dispersed. I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, West (Mr. Wingfield Digby) has some fairly strong views on this matter, and I believe that he will be giving us the benefit of them on a later Amendment.
Before we finish with the Bill, will the Secretary of State be able to give us some indication of the size of the Council and the sort of experience which he will look for in making appointments to the Council?
274 Finally, I give the Council a very warm welcome from this side of the Committee.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Sir Harry Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
I wish firmly to support the recommendation of the Trend Committee in this matter. It is sensible to bring together the various activities visualised under the Natural Environment Research Council.
Like many other hon. Members, on occasion I have had to take part in the proceedings of Select Committees on opposed Private Bills dealing with water supply. I think that anyone who has that experience is brought face to face very quickly with the rather disturbing fact that had local authorities always taken the full account which they should have done, or could have done, of the underground water resources they might seriously have turned over in their minds whether the site on which they were proposing to build was quite the right one. The more one hears evidence from distinguished people in this matter, such as Dr. Buchan of the Geological Survey, the more rapidly one is made aware of the utter disregard all too often of matters of this kind.
I think that it is relevant to this discussion to say that if this new body is to fulfil the functions which we hope it will fulfil, it is very important that it should work in close co-operation with the local authorities involved in these matters. We have reached the stage when water supplies in this country are meeting needs which bear no relation concerning their siting to the sources of water most suitable to supply large populations. As a result, mile after mile of land is dug in order to lay large mains at enormous public cost. I hope that we can get a little more rationality into this procedure than has been the case in the past.
Moreover, with the setting up of the new river authorities, bringing the river boards into the water conservation aspect, and realising that these new authorities are obliged under the Act to work in close co-operation with the Geological Survey, I hope that a very careful tie-up will be arranged between those responsible for getting water to the sea as a result of good land drainage and those who are endeavouring to ensure that underground water resources are not depleted to a dangerous extent.
275 Anyone who has been obliged to study the supply of water to London will be only too aware that as a result of the enormous increase in demand the Metropolitan Water Board is given permission to reduce very considerably what should be the minimum flow over Teddington Weir. The water supply of London is a fascinating study, and obviously this is not the time to go into it in detail.
The point that I should like to stress is this. Just as I hope that all the new river authorities will work in close cooperation with this new Council, so I hope that the river authorities will work in closer co-operation with those responsible for water supply and that a completely new look will be taken at this enormous problem. I have no doubt that there is enough water for everybody who wants to go on drinking the stuff or washing in it for as far ahead as we can see. Unnecessarily dangerous situations do, however, arise entirely due to the lack of co-ordination between those who are most qualified to give the necessary advice.
One other aspect that occurs to me is the work of the old Nature Conservancy. One of its annual reports went to great length to bemoan the loss of some unique sphagnum moss as a result of better land drainage taking place in the only area where that particular sphagnum moss grew.
There is a lot of enthusiasm inside the Nature Conservancy. It comprises very dedicated men. I am sure that my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) has many happy memories of visiting outstations of that body. It is always a happy thought when one comes to a trout stream that the Nature Conservancy never extracts the trout but cooks a kipper instead, and that if it hears a grouse cackling across the heather the Nature Conservancy does not shoot the grouse but uses instead tinned ham or something of that sort. Obviously, these are dedicated men and they have an immensely important part to play in the preservation of many of the things which, we hope, will go on for posterity.
Nevertheless, it is important that a balance should be kept carefully between the work of the Agricultural Research Council and that of the Nature Con- 276 servancy.There has tended to be a sort of aloofness in the minds of too many people working for the Nature Conservancy who imagine that the Agricultural Research Council is merely an enemy. This is wrong. We want to see better co-operation on that front.
The Nature Conservancy, however, gets up to some strange exercises. I understand that one is at present taking place on the Island of Rhum. There, a professor who is expert in the behaviour and the characteristics of mice is making an immensely important study on the future of red deer. These extraordinary things happen, and here we have the National Trust for Scotland having passed over to the Red Deer Authority a great deal of responsibility for looking after Kintail, which was given to the National Trust for Scotland.
The people who are doing this sort of work are knowledgeable in their own field, but, perhaps, they are not particularly well versed in deciding what fauna should be encouraged to remain at various altitudes on the west coast of Scotland and the Highlands. These are the sort of problems which all too often lead to local misunderstandings and disputes, which could well have been avoided if only there was a better understanding of the local problems before the experts moved in.
I hope that the Secretary of State will not imagine that I wish in any way to detract from the importance which I attach to the creation of the new Council, because I am sure that it is tremendously important, and I hope that the spirit of co-operation will pervade throughout all its branches.
§ Mr. M. Stewart
I am grateful for the welcome which both the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Mr. David Price) and the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke) have given to the new Council, which will have most interesting and important work to do. The list of its functions and sciences will be the same as that to which the hon. Member for Eastleigh referred, with the exception of the soil surveys, which will come within the scope of the Agricultural Research Council. It will, I think, be realised that as between the boundaries of any of the councils, there will always be some activities in which there is a 277 very fine balance of argument as to whether an activity is better with one council or with another. That was so in the case of the soil surveys. We took the view that on the whole the balance of advantage was that it should be in the field of responsibility of the Agricultural Research Council.
The concept of the four councils is that they are groups of subjects. That answers the questions of the hon. Member for Eastleigh concerning international activities and research grants. Each council pursues those activities in the field that belongs to it. The Science Research Council is not a sort of general receiver of all international contacts.
The hon. Member asked also whether we have enough seismologists. Frankly, I shall not answer that one across the board without further consideration. However, I take the point made by the hon. Member that if, as we all hope, we are able to make further progress in disarmament associations, that will mean that mankind will be calling more upon this branch of knowledge.
The hon. Member asked me particularly about the Ordnance Survey. That remains, not exactly on its own, but unaffected by the rearrangements which are being made. It has, of course, close connections with the Geological Survey, which is being brought within the range of the Council. That will be, in effect, the channel through which the Ordnance Survey will be in contact with the activities of the Natural Environment Research Council. The subject of oceanography can, perhaps, be left to be discussed on the subsequent Amendment.
I therefore turn with pleasure to the subjects of water and the Nature Conservancy, which were so entertainingly developed by the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely. With regard to water, although we are getting a little away from the Bill, responsibility for it at present remains with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government, but the future of that has still to be considered. That is merely the answer at the present time.
When one speaks, as the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely did, of co-operation between the Council and the local authorities on matters concerning water, it must be remembered that this is a 278 research council and not an executive body. What one must really ask for is that all the bodies—central government, local government and anyone else—which have executive responsibilities concerning water shall make use of the knowledge which, we expect, will emerge from the work of the Council. That is the real nature of the relationship between them.
The hon. Member for the Isle of Ely drew a moving picture of the Nature Conservancy eating the simpler foods so as not to deprive mankind of more exotic forms of life. If that is really true, it seems to me to be admirable and praiseworthy. More generally, it is important that whenever we propose to do anything that hacks the earth's surface about for obvious human reasons—to provide drainage, water supply, places for people to live, and so on—it is useful to have somebody who gets up and says, "Before you do this, look at what you may be destroying and decide whether it is worth while." It might in the end be decided that the right thing to do is to go ahead with the drainage even if the rare moss suffers, but it is important that before the decision is made, people should know what the cost will be. In so far as the Nature Conservancy helps to do that task for us, it is clearly a most valuable organisation.
I have covered most, if not quite all, of the points that were raised and I hope that the hon. Member for Eastleigh will now be willing to let the Council remain part of the Bill.
§ Mr. David Price
I thank the Secretary of State for his reply. I am again unapologetic for having used this method of facilitating discussion, because I do not believe that if we had incorporated all these matters in the debate on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill", we would have had as full and complete a reply from the Secretary of State as he has given us. With those remarks, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Graham Page (Crosby)
I beg to move Amendment No. 3, in page 1, line 14, after "body" to insert:including the Work Study Research Council as defined in subsection (3A) of this section".
§ The Temporary Chairman (Mr. Grant-Ferris)
I would point out to the Committee that I think it would meet their convenience if we take with this Amendment the hon. Member's Amendment No. 5, in page 2, line 13, at end insert:(3A) The Work Study Research Council shall be a body established wholly or mainly for objects consisting of or comprised in the following, namely, the carrying out of research into the application of technologies, techniques, sciences and scientific methods in the advancement of the efficiency, productivity and satisfaction of and in human work, and the ways, means, methods, operation and management of human work, and the operation and handling of machines, equipment, materials and capital resources in relation to human work; and the facilitating, encouragement and support of such research as aforesaid by other bodies and persons and of instruction in the subjects related to the Council's activities and the dissemination of knowledge thereon.
§ Mr. Page
I am much obliged, Mr. Grant-Ferris. The Amendment I moved is a paving Amendment to Amendment No. 5.
The Amendments seek to introduce into the Bill a specific mention of the research council for the sciences and technologies relating to human work under the brief title of the Work Study Research Council. The objects are defined in Amendment No. 5, which I may paraphrase in this way—carrying out research into the efficiency, productivity and satisfaction of and in human work and the management of human work and the operation of the capital resources relating to human work.
I should explain, in case the Secretary of State criticises the form or the position of these Amendments, that they find their way into paragraph (c) of subsection (1)—the paragraph, if I may say so, of also-rans—merely because the Money Resolution precluded them from a place with the two favourites of paragraph (b) which we have been discussing on previous Amendments. They come into paragraph (c), which is the one which provides for the other bodies to be established for purposes connected with scientific research. Scientific research is, of course, defined in Clause 6 asresearch and development in any of the sciences (including the social sciences) or in technology.That definition would cover research and development into the science of management, operational science, what I call the sciences and technologies of human work. 280 These are the sciences and technologies upon which productivity depends, and at least one of the ultimate objects of this Bill must be the application of research so as to better, improve and increase productivity.
I recollect that the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour, in the debate on the Address in reply to the Gracious Speech, expressed the hope that industry would seek more the advice of management consultants, and we wished at the time that he would develop that theme a little further and refer not to just one category of practitioner in the field of operational science. Perhaps he did intend to refer to the whole field of work study. If he did, I am sure he would agree that little could be more valuable at the present time than the establishment of a council for research into that field, the Work Study Research Council, which is here proposed in these Amendments.
The Committee will forgive me for this platitude, but the only basic economic resource available to the human race is human work. Even the land and the vegetable and mineral products of the land are useless economic resources without human work upon them, and the first necessity of productivity, therefore, is the efficient use of human work, and efficiency in that use is the purpose and object of management, and management, to be itself efficient, must apply scientific methods; in short, it must become a technology.
In order to use the methods of science, management needs the facts and the critical examination of the facts. Indeed, work study is the raw material of the science of management. It produces and criticises the facts on which management plans and operates. Work study is the combination of methods study and work measurement. Work measurement determines how long an activity should take. Methods study determines the most efficient means of carrying out an activity in a given set of circumstances. In each case the determination is reached by, first, scientific recording, and critical examination.
I think that from that it is quite obvious that work study is a very clear and definite technology at the present time—the combination of methods study and work measurement—and it is so 281 advanced in experience now that it requires a volume of knowledge for its application. The works study practitioner is no longer merely a man with a stop-watch; he requires knowledge of organisation, methods of operational research, of ergonomics, the base science of the human being, of anatomy and of emotions, and he requires a knowledge of cybernetics, the communication and control of man and machine. He needs to know how to apply that knowledge to productive planning, plant layout, material handling, production control, operational analysis, cost standards, production incentives, and so on. It is all very well, as the Bill does, to set up a research council for research and development in agriculture, medicine, science, natural enviroment. These are secondary resources as compared with the science which deals directly with the basic resource, human work. That is the science or technology of work study. Therefore, in Clause 1(1,c) I hope that we shall soon see that technology recognised by a research council.
I hope the Committee will forgive me for this lecture on work study, but perhaps it is explained if I declare my interest in this up to recently, as having been the general secretary of a professional body of those qualified in work study and of those training to become work study practitioners. Work study practitioners would be the first to recognise and admit the need for research into their particular technology.
Work study is a young science; it is a young technology. It made its first impact at the time of the post-war Labour Government. It was the Anglo-American industrial exchange visits which brought home first to us in this country that we had scientific knowledge, we had skilled ability, but lacked the inclination to critical examination of our methods, and it was directly from those visits that between 1945 and 1948 a few enthusiasts, constructive enthusiasts, formed groups, under several different names, to learn and to apply the technique of work study and to set the standards of knowledge and experience and integrity for those practising work study.
Two major institutes emerged from those several bodies and worked side by side for many years, the Institute of Work 282 Study and the Institute of Incorporated Work Study Practitioners. I am now pleased to say that on 1st January this year these two bodies merged into one institute, the Institute of Work Study Practitioners, in which there are now 2,500 qualified practitioners and some 4,000 students and graduates. Work study practioners will in future speak with one voice, and have one improved syllabus of training, and one discipline. I hope the Secretary of State and the Minister of Technology will heed that voice and give this new institute their blessing and active encouragement and assistance by research into the proper training and education of these technologists.
The contribution which work study can make to the productivity of this country is really immense. We are not talking about tens of millions of £s. The figure is well over £100 million, and I am not exaggerating, as I shall show in a moment. Work study is responsible for 0.5 per cent. of the annual increase in our gross national product, and when one is thinking of a gross national product of £25,000 million, one is talking about work study being responsible for an increase of well over £100 million of productivity a year.
Right hon. and hon. Members no doubt read the magazine "Target" which is issued monthly by the British Productivity Council. I have cut out of the last two issues of that magazine eight or ten examples of the success of work study teams. In every case the figures show an increase of between 40 and 70 per cent. in productivity per annum produced by work study teams. Many local authorities are quoted as examples of what has been done, Lanarkshire being the famous one. Lanarkshire has a population of 300,000. Consultants carried out an organisation and methods study of Lanarkshire, and saved the ratepayers £150,000 a year.
It is important to remember that 80 per cent. of the manufacturing firms in Britain have fewer than 100 employees. These small firms have no resources for research into their methods of work. Perhaps it is regrettable that our production is so divided, but it is a fact, and it is particularly that type of firm which would benefit from research into work study. Their very existence is an indestructible argument for a Work Study Research Council.
283 Fairly recently a statistical research entitled "The Productivity of Management Consultants" was carried out by a Mr. J. Johnston of the Department of Economics at the University of Manchester. It was published in the journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series A General in 1963, Part 2 at page 237. The conclusion is quite astonishing.
Mr. Johnston took 300 assignments carried out by the four largest firms of management consultants. They carry out 80 per cent. of the United Kingdom management consultant work. In those 300 assignments he found that the average productivity improvement was more than 50 per cent. He then statistically spread that productivity achieved over the manufacturing industries and showed that the 1,125 men who had carried out this activity had increased productivity by 0.7 per cent. per annum. Spreading it statistically over workers in manufacturing, public utilities, and distributive trades, the increase was 0.5 per cent. productivity per annum. At that time the annual increase was not much more than 2 per cent., so that 1,125 men experienced in work study were responsible for one quarter of the national annual productivity increase at that time. What could have been produced by training ten times more men in work study?
Further research into work study methods would be rewarding. It might be asked what is there further to research in this? It might be said: All one does in work study is to examine the job, time it, and then apply common sense to show how it can be done in less time, or at less cost, or with less effort. But that simple approach disregards the fact that the work study practitioner is dealing with men and women at work. He has to understand human emotions, as well as human movements, and research is needed into the methods of overcoming the resistance of the human being to change, and resentment against change, whether it comes from the executives or from the trade unionists.
The General Council of the T.U.C. has done much to break down suspicion among workers against work study. Production memoranda issued by the T.U.C. for its training courses now include work study subjects, and the T.U.C. is repre- 284 sented on work study committees and commissions, but we cannot kid ourselves that this resistance is not still there. There is the human resistance to change when one endeavours to apply improved methods to work, and here is one subject on which there could be much further research. There could be research on how to overcome that obstacle in particular cases.
That is only one particular aspect of the vast area in which research is possible, is practical, and is essential, and I hope that the Government will give serious thought to using subsection 1(c) of this Clause to set up a research council for the science of the efficiency of human work, the technology of work study. I hope, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman will see fit to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. John H. Osborn (Sheffield, Hallam)
The Amendment intrigues me because my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) has raised a subject which covers many sciences, and the application of science, social science, and the problems of management in industry. I support my hon. Friend's view that it is most important that we should have a better understanding of the efficient use of manpower in industry.
There are several justifications for my commenting on this Amendment. First, at one stage in my life I had a stop-watch in my hand—that was more than 20 years ago—and I carried out a time and motion study. I learned a lot by studying simple processes, and I believe that I submitted a report which at that time resulted in a great advance in productivity in one particular department. Subsequently, I have been active in management and, in particular, in production control and I have found that the best conceived plans of managers, even after consultation with those on the shop floor, are frustrated because there are factors which managers have not properly considered.
In a progressive industrial organisation, method study, and cybernetics, are essential, and I agree that it is an important part of management. There is a need for the co-ordination of research activities in this field, and I am glad to learn of the merger to which my hon. Friend referred. Most of the 285 research associations—and particularly the Production Engineering Research Association—have been involved in time and motion studies for many years, but if this science is to be applied it must be sold to operatives on the shop floor. They will have to change and improve their techniques, and this is an immense problem which faces management, particularly the supervisors on the shop floor.
Where would this science, which concerns management method, fit in to the pattern of the Bill? Should it come under the Department of Education and Science? I wonder whether it should not come under the Ministry of Technology. I am grateful for the chart that was prepared and published in The Guardian on the 12th of this month, attempting to outline what we are now discussing. I know that the lawyers in the House will say that we are talking about an Amendment of this Clause, and I agree, but if we could get away from some of the legal language that besets us and look at charts more often we might be forced to the conclusion that this form of activity would be better carried out under the Ministry of Technology.
This brings me to another important aspect of the question—scientific management. This, together with work study, involves flow charts, management charts, jobs specifications, and the question of who is responsible to whom, and for what. Many scientists, managers and others are very interested in the Bill. Many of them would welcome its presentation in the form of a chart such as that which the Minister of Economic Affairs has produced in his bulletin, outlining which council is responsible for which section of the new Ministry that is being formed. People could appreciate the set-up if they saw it in chart form rather than in the form of the written word. They would then properly understand exactly what we are now discussing.
If the Minister agreed to accept the Amendment it might well be the task of the persons appointed to this research council to put into comprehensive language, and in chart form, the exact effect of the Bill when it comes into operation.
In conclusion, this is an important subject, and I hope that the Minister will 286 tell us how best work study can fit into the activities which will be set in motion when the Bill comes into effect.
§ Mr. M. Stewart
I listened with great interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page). I will take him up on one point. He referred to the four named councils as the favourites and to the others as the "also-rans". It is important not to think of them in those terms, but, if I may pursue the horse-racing metaphor, we could draw a line under paragraph (a) and write the words "The above have arrived". Paragraph (b) refers to those that are plainly on their way, and paragraph (c) to those that may or may not arrive in future. We know that some will arrive, but we do not yet know which, or in what form.
§ Mr. Stewart
I shall be taking up that point in what I have to say. It is with an attempt to insert words in paragraph (c) that we are now concerned. I do not think that anyone would doubt the importance of the subject referred to in the Amendment. We all listened with great interest to the informed account which the hon. Member for Crosby gave, but I do not think that he needs to convince us of its importance. The nation is becoming very much aware of it.
I put it to the hon. Member that the right way to give this subject its proper place is probably not by creating a separate research council for this branch of study alone. As he said, it is a science which is concerned with human beings. I believe that its proper place will be in a council concerned with the social services. In any case, it would not be wise to make a decision at this point to have a separate council for this subject while we are still awaiting the report of the Heyworth Committee on Social Sciences. I must not prejudge the issue, but it may well be that in the light of that report it will be found sensible to use the powers under paragraph (c) to create a new research council concerned with the social sciences.
I believe—and this is the answer to the question of the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr. J. H. Osborn) —that it should be part of the activities 287 of a social sciences council, such as could be created under paragraph (c), because it will be apparent that the councils are not concerned each with a single subject; it is of their nature that they are concerned with large groups of related subjects. A good deal of their value lies in that fact. At the outset of our discussion the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Mr. David Price) warned us against the danger of following the principle of "Buggins's turn" in our priorities. If we had a large number of councils, each concerned with one subject, the danger of our doing that would be a good deal greater.
There is another very practical point to consider, namely, the manning of these councils. If we are to have a considerable number of separate bodies, each dealing with a rather narrow range of subjects, we shall have real difficulty in getting men of the kind we want to man a lot of these councils, unless we appoint the same men for a good many of them. We would then find that they would be meeting at one time and in one place to discuss one subject and at another time and place to discuss another subject only to find that the two subjects were very closely related, and that they should be dealt with by one body and not by several.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)
Is it not a reflection of that that those who are senior and distinguished tend to be chosen for such posts, and that not so much opportunity is given to those who are less senior but nonetheless have a contribution to make?
§ Mr. Stewart
I certainly take that point. That is the danger in all human institutions. I often felt it myself when I was younger. It seemed to operate in many fields. It is a very serious point, but it is not related to what we are discussing. I think that my hon. Friend is arguing that we could have many more councils if we drew on younger people. But we would still have to consider whether we were making the best use of their abilities.
The other point certainly remains; it will be much more difficult to obtain a proper judgment of priorities if we move towards a pattern of one subject for one council rather than of one group 288 of subjects for one council, partly because in some branches of knowledge we do not yet know how far study in one subject will promote thought and discovery in another. That is another reason for keeping to the principle of one council for one group of subjects.
Like the hon. Member for Hallam, I studied the chart in The Guardian. I will consider whether we could further add to knowledge by producing another chart. As I remember it, there were two lines that should have been drawn on that chart more emphatically, namely, the line of communication between my Department and that of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Technology, and, similarly, the line between the Advisory Council on Science and the Advisory Council on Technology. But the right place for the kind of study with which the hon. Member for Crosby is concerned is in this part of the Bill rather than in the part dealing with technology, because we are considering research into this branch of knowledge.
I ask the hon. Member to take the view that probably the proper way to deal with this subject is to group it with other human sciences rather than to have it dealt with by a newly-created council.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Dalyell
I do not wish to pursue the question of the composition of the Council, but there is one point which arises. If the Heyworth Committee recommended a Social Sciences Council many of us would wish it to have power of itself to give contracts to universities to obtain the sort of objectives suggested by the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page). This would be one way in which his objectives might be obtained.
§ Mr. Graham Page
I am encouraged by the sympathetic response which at the least the objective of this Amendment has received from the Minister. I am not in any way wedded to the Amendment's method of dealing with this matter. It may well be that the right course, as the right hon. Gentleman says, would be to bring it within a council which deals with other matters so that we have one council for one group of subjects. Because of the sympathetic response that the Amendment has received, I should like to ask leave to withdraw it.
§ Mr. Maurice Orbach (Stockport, South)
Before the Committee accepts the plea of the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page), I wish to support the Minister on an entirely different ground. If I am critical, I hope that I shall not be shot at from various quarters.
I believe that we ought to accept what the Minister has said because this technology, eruditely explained by the hon. Member for Crosby, is so ephemeral. I have had experience of work study organisation and methods over many years and I declare my interest. As chairman of a hospital management committee in the Greater London area I have been compelled to have these practitioners to advise on how to conserve labour and reduce expenditure in the hospital budget. Over a period of 12 years none of the much-vaunted suggestions of the practitioners resulted in a single penny being saved.
The hospital management committee is dealing at present with a very serious situation which arose after one of these teams had said that we must install certain machinery which would reduce the amount of labour necessary. This installation resulted in an additional labour charge of £3,000 a year which the committee is trying to recover from the regional board, and the regional board is trying to recover from the Ministry. I agree with the Minister that this pseudo-science, or technology, or whatever it is, which the hon. Gentleman said was introduced as a result of Anglo-American productivity committees immediately after the war, has been blown sky-high in America, and so we should return to what is an ordinary function of management.
I hope that this will all be buried within the scheme suggested by the Minister and that we may proceed to look for real sciences and real technology.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)
I beg to move Amendment No. 4, in page 1, line 14, after "body", to insert:including the Space Research Council as defined in subsection (3B) of this section".
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Sir Samuel Storey)
With this Amendment I think that it would be convenient to discuss Amendments Nos. 6 and 10.
§ Mr. Griffiths
The definition referred to in the Amendment appears in Amendment No. 6 and it might be convenient if I read the main points in it:The Space Research Council shall be a body established wholly … for … the study of and research into upper atmosphere physics, the properties of outer space, propulsion, satellites and outer space probes, space telecommunications, the facilitating and support of such research by other bodies or persons, instruction in subjects relating to the Council's activities, the dissemination of knowledge in the space sciences, and the encouragement of public interest in space.The other Amendment is consequential.
Our purpose in moving this Amendment is threefold. First, it is an attempt to persuade the Government to recognise the importance of space research as one of the advanced dimensions of contemporary science and technology. There is, I think, a vast new world opening up before us in respect of knowledge and of experience. It seems to me essential that we should have some central co-ordinating body in this country which could find out what is going on, particularly in the United States and in the Soviet Union, and which could advise the Government on the part that this country could afford to play in this great new world.
The second purpose of the Amendment is consequential on the first. It is to bring together under one roof the various space activities in which this country is already engaged. There is a very great deal of valuable work in space research already being done in Great Britain. In some respects I think that it could be better co-ordinated. At present, it is sometimes split into separate pockets so that the nation does not always get the full benefit from the many diverse efforts which we are making.
Thirdly, the Amendment seeks to focus public attention on the new fields of space science particularly on the application of the "spin-off," or "fall-out" as the Americans say, of this new research in our industrial technology. There have been many exaggerated pictures painted of the "fall-out" of the American space research. Expressions like "space gold" have been thrown around all too easily, but I hope that I shall be able to show that there are many spheres of space research from which British industry could benefit enormously, and indeed that there is a 291 danger that should we fail to engage ourselves in this new dimension of science our industry could well suffer as a consequence.
I wish to draw attention to some of the astonishing things which are going on in space research and exploration at the present time and take as an example the voyage into outer space of the Mariner IV space craft. This craft is about the size of a Mini-Minor, although it does not weigh quite so much. It has four arms, like a windmill. It was fired into space on 28th November at a speed of several thousands of miles an hour. When it arrives—as it now seems certain that it will—in the Martian atmosphere the Americans will be able to photograph the surface of Mars and transmit photographs back to earth. Their scientists will be able to do a good deal of work on testing the Martian atmosphere and the chemistry of the planet, and so on.
I do not think I need point out the advantages that this knowledge will give to American astronauts and cosmologists. I am not concerned with their further plans for the exploration of outer space. I do not know whether they are feasible or not. I wish the Committee to consider this probe of Mars as an enormous technological achievement by the United States. When we recognise that this space craft has more than 120,000 separate components built into it, and is being guided to its destination at a distance from the earth of 350 million miles, we appreciate that it is a tremendous technological achievement. The best way to illustrate it is by describing the launching and directive of this space probe.
It was sent into orbit in November by a rocket something approximating the size of Nelson's Column from the command post at Cape Kennedy in Florida. The scientists on the ground calculated the precise moment when earth and Mars would be in the right combination with one another so that the space craft would be most likely to reach its destination.
It was sent into what is known as a "parking" orbit, about 120 miles from earth. It remained there until the scientists on the ground below were certain that they could press a further button, fire another rocket and send the craft off 292 on its next stage to Mars. It was at that point that the problem started because the space craft directs itself by having what is known as a "sensor", which is able to pick up the light or signals from the many stars on its course.
In the command centre below the quality of the light and its intensity picked up by the "sensor" from the many stars around was analysed. If the analysis showed that it was a star on which the space craft needed to be locked to make its journey to Mars, a signal was sent permitting it to be so locked. I apologise for this highly technical explanation, but I assure hon. Members that it is relevant to the issue.
§ Mr. Griffiths
The space craft needed to lock on to the star Canopus. This is a first magnitude star and the quality of light would direct the space craft in the right direction. Like most infernal machines—and as my hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Sir Harmar Nicholls) points out, this does sound like a T.V. programme or like science fiction—it went wrong. It originally picked up a star of third magnitude, Markab, changed course and then locked on to another star, Alderanin, and then it changed to the star, Regulus. Down below in the space control room the scientists were considerably alarmed when the computer showed that it had got on to the wrong star. Finally, however—.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
Order. I think that the hon. Member must now return to the subject of the Amendment which he is proposing.
§ Sir Harmar Nicholls
Further to my hon. Friend's point of order, even though his remarks may not strictly be in order they are extremely interesting.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Griffiths
I am attempting to illustrate that in this space probe there is achieved a degree of technological exactness, precision and refinement of 293 enormous importance, as I will show, in industrial application.
When the space craft locked on to the correct star—and this happened quite suddenly—it was a moment almost as exciting to those in the control room on the ground below as when Archimedes made his discovery. The pen on the graph typed on the machine the right combination of figures and Mr. Tom Bilbo, the scientist in charge, shouted to his friends "Canopus"—and they knew that the space craft was on its way.
I hope that this serves to illustrate something of the immense sophistication of this new space industry. Here they were with an instrument that was more than 1 million miles away and which they needed to turn on to its right course so that it would go precisely to its far-off destination, a destination 350 million miles away. By any measure, we should be able to see from this the enormous benefits that the American aerospace industry is deriving from this type of technology.
I do not for a moment suggest that we in this country should attempt to emulate or match the Americans in this matter. We could not possibly afford to do so and it may well be that it is not even necessary. The Americans have in their own programme a great deal of waste and extravagance, but because we cannot begin to match their effort, this is no reason for doing as little as I am afraid we are doing.
Although I do not wish in any way to detract from the extremely valuable work that is being done in this country, notably by the Science Research Council and the Ministry of Aviation, as well as by private industry, the basic truth remains that we have so far largely left space research to others. We are in danger of missing the bus—perhaps I should say the space craft—because the basic question is not whether Britain can afford to take her part in space research but, far more important, are we aware of our future as a nation if we contract out of it?
To begin with, we should lose many of our best scientists. I have never accepted that there was a brain drain of the size or kind hon. Gentlemen opposite suggested when they were in opposition. But having spoken with many young 294 scientists at our universities I am convinced that they are attracted—indeed, impelled—by the exciting new possibilities that are being opened up by American research into space. I am afraid that we will lose many of them if we do not as a nation make a start in tackling space research.
Further, I believe that there is the danger that if we were to contract out of space British science and technology, as well as British industry, would be frozen out of some of the new opportunities which are arising from space research. We do not want to find ourselves facing a future in which the Americans and the Russians make all the sophisticated new products, processes and methods while we in Britain are left making what are metaphorically called the boots and barbed wire.
To give an example, we all know what space telecommunications is, for all who watched the Olympic Games in Tokyo on television here know that we received those pictures by courtesy of the American satellite which was hovering over the Pacific. It will not be many years before the Americans have dozens of such satellites in orbit. When that happens, worldwide communications will be revolutionised.
We in Britain have a great deal at stake in worldwide communications. At the moment we obtain much foreign exchange from the use of British underwater cables by foreign countries. We should recognise that the whole of the old imperial telephone and telegraphic communications system is about to become obsolete. It will become obsolete when the American Telstar, or whatever other satellite system they choose to adopt, goes effectively into orbit, I believe not in a matter of decades but within months or a few years.
I can give more precision to this by pointing out that in my experience, in London, there was created not long ago a machine capable of punching tape and transmitting copy from London to New York at the rate of 700 words per minute. Previously, the maximum speed at which this could be done was 70 words per minute. This means that one can put the whole of the front page of The Times into New York in about 11 minutes overall. This is an entirely new dimension in communications. We were not 295 able to do that before this machine was developed—developed, I am sorry to say, by the Americans and not by ourselves.
I mention this machine to show that at that speed one can justify the expense of renting time on Telstar. At the moment one cannot afford to rent Tel-star time because it is too expensive. This shows that with modern methods the cost involved in using new machinery can be justified. It demonstrates that American industry is gearing itself to making use of the techniques that are arising from space research. It is not a remote prospect, but a fact of today.
I suggest to the Minister that he should look into the intentions of the previous Government to buy into the American commercial satellite system which is about to come into operation and in which I understand we have either bought or taken an option to buy a certain number of shares. I do not know whether we have got them yet. If we have, we have done very well because they have had a tremendous boom on the New York Stock Exchange. But is it enough for us simply to have bought a rather small number of shares in this American system? Ought we not to do more? I would hope that a British Space Council would consider urgently how this country should play a bigger and more enthusiastic part in space telecommunication. There is no field in which it is more important that our country should take an important rôle.
I should like to turn to some of the industrial applications of the new space technology and to mention some of the applications to consumer goods which are almost the most interesting because they are the things that ordinary people use. No one could justify the enormous expense of the American programme in terms of what it has so far produced to the American housewife, but it is worth mentioning that in such humble matters as cooking pots the American housewife is able to put in ice-cold water cooking pots which are absolutely red hot without the slightest possibility of their cracking. The reason is that the Americans needed new ceramics for the nose cones of rockets and these new ceramics have been applied to this basic consumer industry.
296 In the matter of room heating, in the roofs of houses in California there is the prospect of using miniaturised solar batteries which are installed in satellites to take the energy they need from the sun. If these are installed in houses in California so that they release the heat at night or in the winter they will provide warmth for those who live there at virtually no expense beyond the cost of installation. I would mention a more intimate matter in my own case. We were laying some concrete in a piggery and the concrete mixer broke and it could not be welded. Apparently nothing could be done, but my wife came out of the house with a missile glue which we had got when we visited California. It was an epoxy glue not then manufactured in this country or in Europe. It was applied to the concrete mixer and it created a weld which could not have been achieved in any other way.
These are some of the very ordinary examples of the way in which this new technology is producing methods which are important to industry. I would mention one or two more in the field of heavy industry, and particularly metallurgy. The most important is concerned with cutting and forming metals and especially the new hard metals which are needed in industry today. There is a plasma are torch which uses an ionised gas and has a cutting edge at a temperature of 30,000 degrees. It can work within tolerances of 0.002 inches. This is a method which is being applied in American industry but which we do not have in this country.
There is a magnetic pulse forming machine, a method of forming and shaping great slabs of metal in an intense magnetic field which can persuade even the toughest metals to take on a new shape in a fraction of a second. I do not believe that we have such a method in this country. Even the American steel industry has benefited from the products of space research. There is a whole new infra-red technology which may eventually replace radar. It is capable of telling us the internal temperature map of a piece of steel moving through a belt at 80 m.p.h.
I have said enough and perhaps more than enough to illustrate that there is a fall-out or a spin-off from new research which the Americans are doing in space 297 and which has direct applications that matter both to ordinary people and to a nation seeking to be competitively efficient in the modern world.
As a final illustration I would mention the field of medicine. This is perhaps where space research in America has so far made the most remarkable contribution. The sophistication of electronic instruments in the space probe has made it possible for medical researchers to measure electrical impulses in the human body which can tell us much more about the blood flow and body temperature than we have ever known before. This is a direct medical consequence of the space probe.
Then there are the medical advances which have resulted from the preparation of astronauts for space flights. All these are not H. G. Wellsian fantasies but are going on in America today. Tiny instruments attached to astronauts have enabled great advances to be made in the measurement of pulse rates and breathing rates and space suits have been adapted to enable victims of a heart attack to recover more rapidly than otherwise they would do.
There is also the whole field of creating new foods which can be used by astronauts on the journey. There are the small oxygen-forming algae which create the bulk that one can eat on the way, and there is a new direct derivative of a hydrazine propellent which is applied in the treatment of tuberculosis and even certain mental illnesses. These developments have had even an effect in dentistry, because American dentists are now able to use very tiny bearing points which revolve on the teeth at the rate of 250,000 revolutions per minute and therefore achieve a much more effective boring at a much greater speed than anything of which we have hitherto heard. Lest hon. Members fear that it is rather dangerous for a dentist to do things in one's mouth at speeds of 250,000 revolutions I should add that the United States programme has made it possible to achieve a clearer and more certain image of the tooth under attack by a new technique devised for the space industry of a glass-fibre device placed in the mouth which gives a television picture of what is going on.
I have said enough to demonstrate that a whole new range of processes, methods and materials is being made 298 available to American industry and I do not think it necessary to emphasise that we in Britain as a manufacturing and exporting nation cannot afford to be left out of this advanced technology. The question, therefore, is how best we can stay abreast of this modern advanced technology and in particular of space technology at a price that we can afford. The Amendment is designed modestly to carry us some small way along this road.
The Space Research Council's first duty would be not to involve itself in firing rockets or building "hardware", but simply to find out, on behalf of our scientists, what is going on. We need to know what the Americans are doing and, if possible, what the Russians are doing. The Council would be able to collect and to collate the information about their programmes and to select from that information those parts of space technology which we in this country could afford to tackle to the maximum benefit to ourselves.
The Council would seek to bring together under one roof the various space activities on which we are already engaged, the valuable work of the Ministry of Aviation and the British aero-space industries, the space science activities of the Science Research Council, the work of the British governmental agencies which are engaged with our allies in the E.L.D.O. and E.S.R.O. programmes, which, I understand, are now running into some financial difficulty, and perhaps the activities of the Post Office space telecomunications departments which have done so much useful work in conjunction with the Americans.
I emphasise that the purpose of this Space Research Council is primarily for study. Its job would be to discover what is going on elsewhere and to see to it that we make our choice of which areas we should play our part in, telecommunications, obviously, being one of the most important.
The Council would work in close conjunction with British industry and, above all, with the universities. Indeed, if it is to succeed, one of its most crucial functions would be to encourage and, perhaps, even to finance space science research in one of our great universities. It is 299 enormously to the credit of the Americans that, on the back of the United States space industry, there has grown a great deal of intellectual industry. I believe that in this country there is room for such a council to encourage in one of out great universities, or perhaps in more than one, space science research, both pure and applied.
The Amendment is designed further to encourage and promote public interest in space. I have seen a good deal of this in the United States and, although some of the interest created has some extreme or even laughable ramifications, the fact is that among American youth there is an incandescent enthusiasm for this new experience into which their nation is moving. I believe that there are many people in Britain, particularly among the young, who, as they read of American and Russian advances, ask themselves, "Why do not we get cracking here in Britain?" There is an impatience, especially among the young. They want to see our country joining in. I am sure that they are right to feel this, and I am certain also that they would be prepared, if asked, to make some sacrifice in this generation in order that the next generation of our people should not be left out of this new dimension.
I know that there are arguments that we cannot afford it, that it is a waste of money, and that it would spread our scientific manpower far too thinly. I appreciate the problem of selection and the problem of priorities about which one of my hon. Friends spoke earlier and on which the Minister agreed. But there is one categorical imperative applying in this case, namely, that man is crossing a new technological frontier, entering upon a brand new experience. He is setting out on a new adventure, and we know not where it will lead. It is an adventure which holds out vast promise in industry, in technology and in many other ways.
I put my case to the Minister of behalf of the many scientists in this country who want to see us get "cracking", on behalf of the many industrialists who sense the prospect of industrial advantages from space research and study, and, above all, on behalf of the thousands, perhaps millions, of young people who would like to see our country moving in space and who know that their future 300 and their children's future is bound up with it.
I urge the Government to consider this Amendment sympathetically so that the Space Research Council could find out what is going on, could advise the Government which aspects of this new field of research we should concentrate upon and which we could afford to tackle, and, also, so that we could demonstrate that Britain will not be left out of this new and exciting adventure which, I believe, is one of the great revolutions of our time.
§ Dr. Jeremy Bray (Middlesbrough, West)
I hope that the Secretary of State will give to this Amendment the same sort of reply that he gave to the previous one, with a little more warmth. Although I appreciate the background from which the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths) speaks, I cannot help feeling that he has got a number of arguments wrong. It is very difficult to see how a "poor man's" space programme in this country could do anything to keep our best people here instead of emigrating to the United States.
If a man is determined to be the "first-footer" on Mars, or is completely absorbed in the problems of stellar navigation, he will go to the States. He will not stay here among the muddle of second-rate projects. If he wants to get this dimension of excitement in this country—and, I agree, it is a perfectly legitimate and honourable thing to encourage—the role for Britain is one in an Atlantic space effort, or possibly even a world space effort. There was a suggestion made of co-operation between Russia and America on the space programme. Surely, this will have precisely the opposite effect to that which the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds has advocated.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths
I should like to make it clear that in no way was I proposing a national space programme that would send this country rushing off into firing rockets and the rest of it. I am suggesting only that we study the programmes of other people and seek, within those programmes, to find out where we can fit in. I should be the first to welcome any participation with the Americans, with the Europeans and with everybody else.
§ Dr. Bray
I think that this is hardly consistent with keeping our best brains in this country and encouraging this line of development here. What we do we must do well, and our problem is one of selection in our own national area. The hon. Member points to the "fall-out" or "spin-off" from the American space programme. I am sure that American housewives do not want to put red-hot saucepans into water too often, at least I hope not. I may have to do it, but I am sure that they do not.
§ Dr. Bray
I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for this point. Indeed, I welcome this. I think that our work on epoxy resins would be far more effectively carried out as a part of our building research programme rather than as part of a space research programme, where its application would be extremely uncertain and tenuous. Surely, if we have someone seeking some excitement in the creation of entirely new ideas and ways of looking at things—which is the effect of a space programme—we should seek to bring this kind of man into the traditional, rather dead-and alive situation in this country, where he would have an entirely new point of view to offer.
It would undoubtedly mean a very considerable readjustment. People would have their noses put out of joint. If, for example, the effort which we are putting into the TSR2 programme were to be put instead into the London docks and London transport and one or two other places. there would be many people in positions of great eminence—some of them on the Front Bench opposite—who would find that their way of looking at things was completely obsolete.
What space does is enable this idea to develop where it will not hurt anyone or interpose any social change or put any noses out of joint. What we want today in this country is to go for the more difficult task of welcoming the social adjustment which goes with rapid technological change, developing these ideas in our own homeland, in the domestic economy, in the economy of 302 developing nations, and thus making a far greater contribution to the wealth and well-being of the world per scientist and engineer available than will ever come from the United States space programme.
I think that the right hon. and learned Gentleman is not fair to American scientists and technologists in his report of the American view of the space programme. There are many people there who would welcome within Europe a different orientation from that in the United States. I am sure that the creation of a special Space Research Council in this country, which would be deliberately aimed at concentrating attention and glamour on this field rather than on others, would be a great mistake.
§ Sir Harmar Nicholls
What is the hon. Member's answer to my hon. Friend's point about Telstar replacing the income we get from the undersea cable?
§ Dr. Bray
I think that the income from the undersea cable is a relatively small proportion of our gross national product. Certainly, if we were to put effort into, say, homing devices on stars, that kind of work applied to industrial process control in this country could well open to us a world market in industrial process control, which the Americans have been unable to get, largely because they have sunk all their best technological effort into the aerospace industry. By following different lines of development we could get a far more efficient development of our world markets than by tagging along behind the Americans. I hope, therefore, that the Secretary of State will not be over-warm in his reception of the Amendment.
§ Mr. Airey Neave (Abingdon)
I have always been somewhat attracted to the idea that an organisation should be set up to deal with space research, because the situation in space research at the moment is extremely untidy. Several Ministries and Ministers are involved. The scientific side of the research and some of the technological aspects which come under the Ministry of Aviation could form part of a central body such as a Space Research Council. I am not advocating that it should go further than the examination, as the Amendment suggests, of the various aspects of space 303 research. The fact is that there is already a growing space research industry in this country, as we have heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths), and there are wide and growing problems.
In spite of what was said by the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, West (Dr. Bray), we are not advocating a glamorous body which would give the impression to the public that we intend to launch into a very expensive space programme. I am talking about space research, not development. I suggest that the activities of the Royal Society and the universities in this respect could be combined in those of a Space Research Council and with some of the technological aspects which at present come under the Ministry of Aviation.
Even if the Secretary of State does not do this now, I think that the time will come when he has to do it. There are many growing aspects of space research, such as the satellite communications programme, in which we are taking part and in which we ought to have had a greater part after the abandonment of Blue Streak as a military project. Indeed, I advocated that four or five years ago. The fact remains that there has been a considerable growth in this technology.
My hon. Friend mentioned so many things that I would refer only to radio equipment and electronics. There are big markets here, both in space research and in an expansion in our domestic field as a result of what is being done by scientists who have experience of satellite communications. The industrial future of Britain is much bound up with space research. I suggest that we should give serious consideration to the idea of a central body for space research. I repeat that the position is extremely untidy at the moment. There is no Minister responsible for space research as a whole. The Postmaster-General is concerned with the operational side of telecommunications and the Minister of Aviation is concerned with technology and with the industry. A joint body of some kind on which industry was represented in this research field would have very great advantages.
§ Dr. David Kerr (Wandsworth, Central)
We must all be grateful to the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths) for his very interesting remarks. It may not be fair to attempt to turn HANSARD into an edition of "Popular Science Monthly", but his speech was none the worse for that. I think, Sir Samuel, that when you finally ruled him out of order I could almost hear his sigh of relief at discovering that it is very much safer to be out of order here than to be out of order up there.
In fairness to my colleagues on these benches and to American scientists and technologists, I ought to say that many of the things which he ascribed to the space programme in the United States are not only nothing to do with the space programme, but have very little to do with the United States in their origin, either. I think that it would be unfair to all of us here to allow to go unrecorded some facts which by implication or omission he seems to have established. To begin with, it is quite wrong to suggest that only Americans have access to the 250,000 revolutions which he suggests occur only in the American dentist's surgery. I would point out that the London County Council, three or four years ago, introduced this sort of turbine drill for experimental use in its school clinics—and it was not something which came from America.
The hon. Member also referred to the development of hydrazine derivatives as drugs for the treatment of mental diseases. Much of the research is taking place, and has been successful, in France and Switzerland and this country, too. Besides these facts, there is the one to which the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) drew our attention—namely, the saucepan which one can put in the "fridge" and then straight on the gas stove, and vice versa, if that is the corrupt way in which one conducts one's cuisine. These saucepans are available here as well. I bought one. They are expensive.
The basic weakness of the hon. Member's argument seems to lie in the fact that he sees so many of these improvements stemming from a space programme, when, in very large part, the reverse is true—that the space programme derives much of its knowledge from preceding research in other fields.
305 The point that the hon. Gentleman has tried to make to the Committee is that this country is, by virtue of the absence of a Space Research Council, losing the benefits of the results of research overseas, mainly in America and the Soviet Union, and he suggested that we were losing the results of research which we should be doing in this country and are not. He also referred to our losing the results of research which is being done in this country but which is not being disseminated in an appropriate way through industry and academic laboratory facilities.
I cannot accept that the points that he has made justify his contention. Also, I fail to follow him when he suggests that his arguments lead us inevitably to the idea of a Space Research Council. It seems to me that this country must recognise that our hopes now of achieving the same sophistication in space research and space activity as the Soviet Union and America are vain.
The hon. Member also argued that we should seek the results of the research of the United States and the Soviet Union so far as they are available to us. I very strongly suggest that so long as the research in those two major countries is so very much military research and only secondarily scientific research, our chances of acquiring the information are small whether we have a Space Research Council or not.
However, I accept that there is a great deal of information coming from space research and, most particularly, going to space research from other disciplines which needs to be made available. I cannot follow why this correlation and organisation of information cannot be done by the Science Research Council. I do not follow the necessity to establish a council which will be in a sense confined, if one can confine anything in outer space with this very big horizon before it.
It seems to me that the purpose which the hon. Member is seeking, and which I fully support, will be adequately served by the terms already laid down in the Bill, and I hope that when the Secretary of State deals with these points he will provide a more detailed answer than I am able to do.
§ Mr. Hogg
I had not intended to take part in the debate, especially as the 306 hour is a little late, but I wonder whether I might help the Committee by making one or two comments about some of the issues raised on the Amendment, without in any way seeking to dictate to the Secretary of State the line which he would think it proper to take upon the suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths) that a Space Research Council should be set up.
I think that my hon. Friend can, at any rate, rest assured that he has performed a very real service to the Committee by both giving us a most interesting and informative speech and raising in the course of our debates upon the Bill a subject of first-rate importance. Indeed, when my hon. Friend described the incandescent enthusiasm of American youth I thought I detected some original enthusiasm emanating from his own breast which was not simply a reflection of the American youth with which he has been in contact. When he finally became locked upon Alderanin and found himself in conflict with your predecessor in the Chair, Sir Barnett, I felt that he was performing a very useful service by attracting attention to the importance to this country of the issues involved.
There are two quite separate points involved in his speech. The first is the importance of this country seizing itself of modern technology in its most advanced phase and thereby not falling behind, in quite familiar industrial processes and products, those nations which have already embarked upon space research. The second issue, which seems quite distinct from the first, although they are both material to the Amendment, is whether the course which he proposes—the institution of a separate Space Research Council—is a good or a bad way of organising our scientific research; that is to say, whether it is wise, accepting his first premise, to go on to his conclusion that we should have a separate Space Research Council as distinct from the Science Research Council, the Medical Research Council and the National Environment Research Council.
I thought that my hon. Friend made his first point completely successfully. I did not share the pessimistic expressions made on the benches opposite. What I was not so satisfied about—and I hope 307 that I am not boring the Committee by saying so—was whether the organisational point he made was the right organisational point. In other words, is his conclusion the correct one?
I agree with the hon. Member for Wandsworth, Central (Dr. David Kerr) that my hon. Friend was a little too modest about the achievements of this country already, because it really is true that the frying pans which so entranced him are really on sale. I possess one myself. It is also true that the dental drills which he thought wonderful, with their 200,000 revolutions per minute, are used by most dentists in Harley Street as well as in L.C.C. clinics. We are not as badly off as my hon. Friend thought.
There was nothing in the very interesting information he gave us as an example of what his council would find out from the Americans and Russians which we do not know already. I think that I can say that with absolute assurance. There was nothing he mentioned that I do not know already from my own contact with the scientists whom the Secretary of State controls. All this is immensely important and interesting, but we must not think that in this country we are either ignorant of what goes on or have not the means or the knowledge.
For several years we have had a steering group on space research co-ordinated by the Royal Society and under the general authority of the Secretary of State. It performs almost exactly the functions which my hon. Friend's Space Research Council would do. I mention these things not in order to minimise the value or the importance of my hon. Friend's speech, but because I am particularly anxious that the scientific achievements and standing of this country should not be misunderstood by the public. As he generously admitted, we have undertaken a very great deal of space research.
The point to which he devoted somewhat too little attention was that he did not ask himself—nor did my hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon (Mr. Neave), with whose speech I largely agreed—whether there was something called space research which could be wholly differentiated from astronomy, physics and the earth sciences. What is space research? I assume that what we are doing at Jodrell Bank is space research of the most 308 advanced kind. It would certainly come within his proposed definition for the Space Research Council. I cannot see how it can be sensible to take Jodrell Bank, which is part of Manchester University, and separate it from the other grants given to Jodrell Bank through the other councils which the right hon. Gentleman now controls. I do not see how radio astronomy can be taken out of the university and given to a body of the kind suggested.
I do not see how the institution at Slough, which is tracking the satellites with a different set of apparatus, or the radio telescope at Cambridge, can be separated out and called space research and not allied with the general developments in science, in electronics, physics and astronomy generally. I do not see how the optical astronomy at Hurstmonceux can be organised under space research and I do not see how it can be said that space research is one thing and optical and radio astronomy another. Optical and radio astronomy are an important part of space research.
To take the other extreme and to accept at their full face value the applications of science to which the hon. Gentleman referred, the frying pans, the space suits which will help in the treatment of heart diseases, the dental drills and so on; the more their importance is argued, the more it is established that one cannot differentiate them from the general subject of scientific and industrial research. There is not one kind of metallurgy which can be organised on conventional lines, whether under the Minister of Technology, or, as I would prefer, the B.I.R.A., or, as now, the D.S.I.R., and another kind of metallurgy which could be organised under a Space Research Council. This would be a bad form of organisation and I do not feel that that part of the case has been made out.
In his earlier argument, my hon. Friend made one extremely important point, which I hope the Secretary of State will accept, and one which he may not accept with such enthusiasm, but which is none the less true. We cannot afford to be left out of these advanced technologies simply as a matter of the economic future of this country. I ventured to make this point when we were talking about the future of technology during the debate on the Address.
309 We cannot afford to write off these advanced projects simply as prestige projects, because the prestige project of the present is the industrial technology of the future. When we invest our money, as we shall have to invest our money, being a relatively poor country, in bits of communication satellites, or space research by means of the European Space Research Organisation, E.S.R.O., or the European Launcher Development Organisation, E.L.D.O., or shared satellites with the United States, which are already agreed and which I hope the right hon. Gentleman will pursue, we are really investing our money in our industrial future. I hope, therefore, that we shall hear nothing from the Government about mere prestige products.
I draw this conclusion from what my hon. Friend said. It is not the moral which he drew, but I should like the Secretary of State to consider it. I think that it is a mistake in these cases to divorce Ministerial sponsorship from Ministerial procurement. If my hon. Friend's piece of organisation is not ideal—and my own view is that, for the reasons I have given, it is not ideal—it is still less ideal to give the Ministry of Technology sponsorship of the electronics industry, or the aircraft industry or the computer industry, but to give some other Ministry which has the right of procurement, and the still more diabolical right of refusing to procure, the power to wreck that industry whatever the sponsoring Ministry says. Let the Minister who wrecks the industry be responsible for the industry itself and not some other Minister who is powerless to help it in its plight.
There are limits to what we can do in space research. Whether we organise it correctly or accept to the full my hon. Friend's case, we do no service to the youth of this country by not recognising those limits. Space research as it exists is very largely a by-product of defence research. This is not because of its intrinsic character, but because, in order to get there at all, we must use a rocket, and rockets of the requisite size and lift have been developed for military purposes. The Americans and Russians have been able to develop various advanced products from their contact with outer space, not because they are better scientists than we are or because successive Governments 310 of whatever political persuasion are fuddy-duddies who do not realise the importance of what is being done, but because they have inter-continental ballistic missiles for one purpose and have chosen to use them for another.
If we had had an inter-continental ballistic missile when I was Secretary of State for Science, this country would, of course, have had a space research programme. But I do not think that the Secretary of State or myself, whichever of us was responsible for it, would have tried to persuade our colleagues that the sensible way to achieve a space research programme was by developing an intercontinental ballistic missile for that purpose alone.
My hon. Friend has made a point which I hope will be accepted by the Secretary of State, but I owe it to the right hon. Gentleman to say frankly that the piece of organisation which he proposes is not necessarily the right way of achieving the object.
§ Mr. M. Stewart
The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths) has sparked off an interesting debate. Listening to him, I was never so absorbed since I read Jules Verne's "Journey to the Moon" many years ago. There is, however, a real danger in the kind of speech which he made—and I say this with respect to him—because it impressed and interested the Committee so much. Increasingly, as we were told earlier in the debate, the nation will have to decide its scientific priorities, on how much to devote to research altogether and how it can divide that effort among different research projects. We were held and interested by the hon. Member, but there ran through my mind the thought that if his studies and background had been different he could have held us equally well in urging some quite different kind of research.
We noticed in the earlier debate on work study the very skilful case put forward by the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) and the very shrewd criticisms which my hon. Friend the Member for Stockport, South (Mr. Orbach) thrust into that case. I think that this raises the question of how far, by debates in this Chamber, we can reach decisions on scientific priorities. It will be important for all of 311 us never to conceive of ourselves in this House as advocates. We are ultimately the judges, because we are the judges of the Government's judgment on scientific priorities. It is important, therefore, that however fascinating any branch of research is, we do not get carried away by it.
To a certain extent, the hon. Member is pushing at an open door. No one will dispute the sheer satisfaction that mankind gets from being able to make these amazing discoveries. No one will dispute the practical homely consequences that can follow from the most elaborate projects. On that second point, however, we have again to ask ourselves whether we have really been satisfied that the one is a necessary condition of the other. It somebody burns his house down, he might get roast beef. It does not follow that that is therefore the only, or the best, road to that objective.
The right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) said that the prestige project of today is the industrial project of the future. That is very often true. It would not be wise to accept it as an invariable rule and there would be real danger in being led by that phrase into an uncritical acceptance of any prestige projects.
I develop this general argument because I want to make it clear that while I fully accept that in the whole record of human achievement the conquest of space is of enormous importance, while I believe, as was suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, West (Dr. Bray), that there is a way in which the country can play a part in that human achievement, we must remember that we have in the end to keep this in proportion with the other kinds of research and that the organisational structure of our science must be such as will make it easier for us to keep a balanced judgment and less likely that we can be swept off our balance by the magnificence and splendour of a particular branch of research or the opening of particular doorways into fresh knowledge.
Therefore, we have to return, with however much reluctance, from the great journey on which the hon. Member for 312 Bury St. Edmunds took us to, as the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone pointed out, the mundane question of whether, whatever view one takes of space research, the Amendment would actually improve the governmental mechanism with which the Bill is concerned. I am bound to say that I agree with the right hon. and learned Member that it would not.
I did not quite understand why the right hon. and learned Gentleman said that he agreed with his hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon (Mr. Neave), because his hon. Friend tended on the whole to favour the organisational part of the Amendment. I shall show why I share the view of the right hon. and learned Member that this is not the way to do it.
It might be said, as the hon. Member for Abingdon said, that our present arrangements about space research are untidy, but that is only a superficial view. Broad policy in that field—what I think the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds had in mind when he spoke about finding out what is going on and putting us in the position where we can make proper judgments—will now be the function of the Science Research Council. There will then be that part of the whole space effort which is concerned, as one might put it, with means—rockets, launching vehicles, and so on—which is mainly the function of the Ministry of Aviation. Then there is that part of the whole thing which is concerned with industry, to which those means are put, in which the Ministry of Defence is particularly interested and, to take a happier example, in which the Post Office is interested as part of its whole field of telecommunications.
I believe that if we set up a council with the functions wholly or mainly as described in the Amendment we should only be able to do that by pulling away from all those agencies a bit of their work, resulting in duplication of work. I think the right hon. and learned Gentleman illustrated this with regard to Jodrell Bank. Take another example. Research concerned with commercial satellites is bound to be very closely connected with the rest of the Post Office's telecommunications system. If it is to be shunted into the function of the Space Research Council we are again, presumably, going to get duplication of effort.
313 The phrase "bringing everything under one roof" is attractive till one considers what it means, that so many of the things which contribute to an intelligent and well-planned space effort are best done when done in connection with something else. The actual discovery of the right broad lines of policy for research will not be well done, I think, if it is divorced from other forms of high scientific study. I believe, therefore, that what the Committee wants done in space research can best be done through the Science Research Council already established under the Bill.
Some of the arguments I advanced on an earlier Amendment and against the Work Study Council also apply—the danger of allowing a number of councils to be proliferated too greatly to the damage of the administration and in a way which will make it ultimately harder for Government and Parliament to undertake this very difficult judgment of the priorities, which is the supreme question with which we are concerned.
I accept, therefore, the view that space research is an essential human effort at this time, that this country can play a part in it, though what part is a matter for argument. I do not think that really the question of the size of this country's space effort is germane to this Amendment, unless it can be shown that by adopting this particular machinery we shall be more likely to get the right size. I think that we should not get nearer the right answer to that question from the evidence we have had, but the need for this country to make a proper contribution to human knowledge in this field is not in dispute. I only say, let us not allow ourselves to forget our ultimate duty to be able to judge our priorities carefully. We must keep tidy the administrative machinery for doing that. We must not be pulled this way or that by particular enthusiasms, fascinating and skilfully presented though they may be.
I would, therefore, ask the hon. Gentleman to reconsider the matter and to withdraw his Amendment.
§ Mr. Julian Ridsdale (Harwich)
I want only to intervene for a very few minutes. I am not certain that a Space Research Council is the right way of co-ordinating our space efforts, but I am convinced that we need to co-ordinate 314 our research and our space effort much more than we have been doing up to now, and to put more investment into space and space projects than has been done. With the danger of the cancellation of TSR2 and possibly the P1154 and the HS681, I see also the danger of our splitting up our scientific teams, and, indeed, exporting our scientists. When one hon. Gentleman on the other side said that possibly some of the scientific people might go to co-ordinate efforts on the docks, I thought he was very wide of the mark.
§ Mr. Ridsdale
I should like to have that confirmed because I find it very unlikely that we shall see our scientists going down to organise the docks. They may make efforts in other spheres.
I intervene only because I am convinced that much more should be done in the field of advanced technology than we are doing at the moment. When I was in the Air Ministry, I remember one of our distinguished air marshals, who flew a plane in 1915, saying "Who would have thought then that in 50 years we would be flying at 2,000 miles an hour, and who would think that in another 10 years we might be able to fly planes at 12,000 miles an hour, which is the speed required for re-entry from space?". If we contract out of this kind of research in this country, we will certainly find that our scientific teams will go abroad.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths) was right when he talked about the vital rôle of communications. It is clear that investment in this field will pay us dividends. When I have listened to what is said by some right hon. Gentlemen on the Government benches, I find their words unimaginative and, indeed, defeatist. Obviously, this research is going to be expensive, and of course I do not visualise us spending money on the same scale as the Americans and the Russians, but I believe that if we invested £100 million we would get a vital return which would place us in the forefront of the scientific and industrial nations of the world.
§ Mr. Ridsdale
I am certain that an investment of £100 million over a short period would pay dividends fairly quickly, especially in communication satellites. We have to apply our minds to both our social and scientific priorities. Unless we make this kind of investment in advanced technologies, we shall not have the wealth to pay for some of the social necessities which we all so earnestly desire.
It is for those reasons that I commend the Amendment to the Committee. My hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds has done a great service in putting it forward. I am not sure that the Space Research Council is the right answer, but anyone who pushes aside this kind of suggestion and thinks that we cannot apply our minds to this kind of investment is not furthering the interests either of this country or of the place of science in the Western world.
§ Sir Harmar Nicholls
I should like to comment on one or two words which the Minister let drop in the course of his speech. I do not think that in the interests of Parliament we can accept for one second his suggestion that those who come here should not act as advocates. This would be an uninteresting place if we had to sit here as silent judges. There are silent judges of all these topics, and I was interested in and enthralled by the exciting speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths). I think that we ought to encourage that sort of advocacy, if it has that kind of result, and I hope that we will not accept from the lips of the Minister a procedure which will mean that we come here merely to give judgment on what the Government of the day decide to do.
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman did not mean that, but that is what his words amounted to—that we must not make interesting or exciting speeches because that means that we are acting as advocates and by doing so we will interfere with our main function, which is to give judgment on whatever Government decisions may be made. I have intervened merely to put that matter right.
316 The first half of my hon. Friend's speech established his claim to take part in this debate. What my right hon. and learned Friend said in reply, namely, that the remedy suggested is not the right one, must be accepted, but what we cannot do is accept the assertion of the Minister that we must merely listen and give judgment, and never be exciting.
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
I shall probably be the only back bencher speaking on this side of the Committee who does not entirely favour the idea of a Space Research Council, certainly in the context in which my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths) put it. The Committee is indebted to my hon. Friend, however, for introducing the topic, because it is certainly as important as is the need of the Government to get their priorities right.
The Minister deserves some sympathy in trying to follow the various instructions given to him from time to time. He has been told to keep his feet on the ground; to gaze at far horizons; to use his imagination, and to live this day as if it were his last. At times he has even been told to lock up his daughters. In my opinion, the wisest thing that any Government of this country could do in deciding the right priorities would be to consider the geography of the world and Britain's position on the face of the globe, recognising that that dictates certain very important priorities.
In talking about space it is important to consider of what height we are thinking. The far-flung ironmongery which is now careering towards the planets is not the most important sort of ironmongery for Britain to be thinking about. The heights upon which Britain should be concentrating in her study of space lie between 50 and 100 miles up. That is the sort of height above the surface of the globe that will be of immense importance for transporting human beings hither and thither about the world in the future. We do not know enough about that yet, and the more we know, and the sooner we know it, the better we shall be able to hold our position in the world.
Whatever decision the Minister comes to on this matter—whether he decides to leave it in the care of a Science Research Council or some other body—what will matter is the dissemination of knowledge, and the resolution of more Government 317 Departments to cut down to an absolute minimum their interference with the manufacturing side of aviation and the aircraft industry and to ensure that every encouragement is given to all the companies involved in this business, so that they can support research departments of their own and create an element of competition. That is what has made this country great.
This country has produced brilliant ideas in a practical form. All too often other countries find ways of taking fuller advantage of these ideas, once they have been thought out, but the moment this country loses its ability to provide the brilliant ideas in practical form its position will indeed be parlous. We are still far removed from any such danger, but the right hon. Gentleman should bear in mind the fact that the future of the British aircraft industry is of absolutely vital importance in this context, and that whatever spin-out, spin-off or fall-out comes from the sort of research mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds, in his brilliant speech, it is important that the Government should regard it as their primary duty to see that those who are most likely to be able to take full advantage of this knowledge are given every facility to obtain it and to apply it for themselves.
This is the sort of question upon which the Government would be wise to concentrate most of all in considering this vital problem.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths
I feel as though I am one of those American rockets at Cape Kennedy which it was difficult to get off the ground. In the comments which have been made on my Amendment there has been a great deal of laughter about frying pans and dentists' drills, which I quite understand. There was a rebuke from the Secretary of State about the function of an hon. Member who comes to this House, and from my own Front Bench a feeling that there was not the most absolute joy and happiness about the Amendments proposed.
The case that I was making does not rest on frying pans or dentists' drills, but on the much wider and broader fact that men are intervening in a new dimension greater than anything in our whole terrestrial experience. This is something in which the young people of this country 318 wish us to participate. That is the big and broad premise on which this Amendment was based.
I would say to the Secretary of State, with the deepest respect, that, of course, it is a matter of selecting priorities. We are not the richest of countries and we must choose. The choosing surely is the task of the Government, but surely it is not right that an hon. Member of this House should be denied an opportunity to advocate something which he believes to be right for the country. If we cannot advocate a policy of this kind in the House of Commons, where can we advocate it?
§ Dr. David Kerr
Perhaps there is some confusion about what was said by the Secretary of State. What he said to the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths) may be one thing; what he said to me was that when we have people with proved interests and the ability to present them to the House of Commons, the House, or the Committee, accepts responsibility for discrimination and not repudiation.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his clarification. My point is that the House of Commons—I say this as a very brash newcomer—is the place where every kind of enthusiasm, whether it be agriculture, mathematics, industry, or machine tools, may be advocated. Surely that is the great value of the House of Commons.
With the deepest respect to the Secretary of State, I must say that I cannot accept that it is proper to say that an hon. Member shall not say to the House what he believes to be right for this country. I wish, briefly, to say that the object of this Amendment was not to launch a great programme of rockets and "hardware". Its primary object was study, and I should like to underline that—to study, to find out, to collate, and to propose areas where we should most concentrate our efforts; and also, as was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon (Mr. Neave), tidy up some of the loose organisations which we have at present.
I do not say that the frying pans and the rest of it result simply from space research. Like all forms of human activity, space research interacts with others. A whole body of knowledge has 319 been stimulated by the space programmes. I say this having seen something of it in the United States. I ask the Government to recognise that. I understand their problem, and the problem that confronted the previous Government, but the fact is that there are rapidly coming into being new processes and methods and techniques which, as a nation, we cannot afford to lose out on. Others are benefiting from this new field. I do not believe that we are benefiting so much, neither do I believe that we can afford not to participate in the creation of this world of telecommunications network.
In everything we do in scientific and technological research we are part of the whole fraternity of nations. There is no room for a Union Jack in space. This is something we must participate in with the European countries and join with the Americans. Let us at least join. It is for that reason that I recognise one point the Secretary of State made; that the Amendment in some ways is pushing at an open door. I am glad the right hon. Gentleman said that.
If that is so, I urge him to tell us at a future date what the Government intend to do in space telecommunications, because this is something vitally important to our industry and the country. Will he say in which way the Government propose to prosecute research into this vast new dimension? It is in the hope and belief that the Government will announce what Britain will do to ensure that we do not lose the advantages which are already accruing to others that I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn
§ Mr. Graham Page
I beg to move Amendment No. 7, in page 2, line 17, to leave out "or principal objects".
We come from the exciting area of space to the mundane matters of the machinery of the Bill. Referring back to Clause 1(1,c), which provides for the establishment of research councils by Order in Council, it should be noticed that Clause 1(4) limits that provision by requiring certain conditions precedent before the establishment of such councils; that is, that there must be a draft Order laid before both Houses of Parli- 320 ament, the draft must be approved by both Houses and the draft must specify the objects or the principal objects of the council.
It is the words "or principal objects" which become sinister in the context of the rest of the Bill. Suppose, for example, that an Order in Council is laid in draft before the House for the establishment of, say, a road safety research council giving just the principal objects of the council. Under Clause 3(6) the right hon. Gentleman could then take over, say, all Ministerial powers relating to trunk roads. I am exaggerating what might happen, but it is quite possible that that could happen under the Bill as it stands.
§ Mr. M. Stewart
I do not think that the hon. Gentleman has understood Clause 3(6) correctly. That would not give me power to take functions from other Departments of Government. It would merely determine, if it had been decided, and that would be a matter of whole Government policy on which the House would have to pronounce, that such a transfer was to be made and I would merely have the necessary powers to make consequential transfers of property.
§ Mr. Page
We will come to Clause 3(6) in due course. However, it certainly empowers the Minister to transfer Governmental functions from one Department to another, from one research council to another or from a Government Department to a research council. That is why I say that as the Bill stands, once having set out in an Order in Council the principal objects of a research council, the Minister could then go on to make alterations in those objects under later Clauses. He would be entitled to do so. The Order in Council would say, "These are the principal objects of the proposed Council"—yet having obtained the Order it would be perfectly within his rights to transfer any functions to that body.
It might be said, "What does that matter? This is merely a research council doing research work and we must be flexible about what we give these research councils to do." But the rights of research councils impinge on the rights of the individual citizen. For 321 example, later in the Bill, Nature Conservancy powers of compulsory purchase of land are transferred to the Natural Enviroment Research Council. These are things about which the House of Commons should be told when a new research, council is formed, and told in some detail. We should be told not merely the principal objects of the drift Order in Council but the objects in detail of what it is proposed the research council should have power to do.
The House of Commons would not deny a council flexibility and there is no reason to hide from it the purposes for which a research council is set up. We would ensure that the House would know those purposes if it was necessary under Clause 1(4) for the Minister to set out in a draft Order not merely the principal objects but the detailed objects for which he intends to set up a research council.
§ Mr. M. Stewart
I think that I can allay the alarm of the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) about this matter. I tried in an intervention to draw his attention to the fact that Clause 3(6) arises only where the activities of a research council or a Government Department in relation to scientific research are to be taken over from it otherwise than under this Clause. The point of Clause 3(6) is merely that when a decision has been reached—and power to do it does not lie in the Bill—and properly approved it would be necessary that I should have power to make consequential adjustments to property, and so on. That is all that Clause 3(6) would do.
The hon. Member foresaw one objection to the Amendment—the danger of limiting too rigidly a research council by attempting to define in advance in a Statute the whole exhaustive list of its objects. I am sure that he would not want to do that, and an earlier Amendment in his name included the words:The Work Study Research Council shall be a body established wholly or mainly for objects …There is the hon. Member giving us a flexible definition of the objects of the council which he wanted to set up under the Bill. Was that a sinister device to set up a Work Study Research Council, and did he have this insidious phrase, 322 "wholly or mainly" so that any other objects could be tacked on later? If the hon. Member applied his own analysis to his own Amendment and the one which we are now discussing he would say that it would be absurd to try to define in a Statute the objects of a research council with such fullness that one could say that no addition could ever be made to them without altering a Statute.
There is a further safeguard. These bodies are to be brought into existence by Royal Charter. I drew attention on Second Reading to the slightly tortuous reading of Clause 1, because that is the nature of the matter. Scientists attach a good deal of importance to this because it sets an impressive seal of independence on bodies of this kind. The Charter will set out more fully than a Statute what the objects of a council should be. It would be something of an invasion of the traditional function of a Charter if we attempted to do the whole of its work for it in the course of a Bill.
I can assure the hon. Member that nothing sinister is intended and nothing sinister could result. It is reasonable, in order to get the required flexibility, and it is in accordance with the general nature of these councils as bodies set up under Royal Charter that we should not adopt the hon. Member's Amendment.
§ Mr. Graham Page
I am not at all satisfied with the right hon. Gentleman's answer. He criticised the words which I used in an earlier Amendment, but they were, in fact, a compliment to him and his Bill, being taken from a point in subsection (2) where he himself uses the expressionwholly or mainly for objects consisting ofand so on.
§ Mr. Page
We shall come to the point which the right hon. Gentleman made about the Royal Charter on a later Amendment, and I, therefore, reserve my position about that. I think that the real dispute will arise between us on the question of the powers which the Bill gives to the Minister under a later Clause. I shall not detain the Committee further on this Amendment, but I shall come back to the fight later.
§ I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.