HC Deb 18 March 1965 vol 708 cc1463-4
21. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will give an undertaking that the Research Ship "Discovery" will be fully employed during the coming year, in view of the takeover of the National Institute of Oceanography by the Natural Environment Research Council.

Mr. Prentice

The Estimates for the Natural Environment Research Services include provision for a programme which will keep "Discovery" fully employed throughout the coming year except for normal maintenance periods. An undertaking by my right hon. Friend of the kind asked for would infringe the future responsibility of the Natural Environment Research Council for administering its programme.

Mr. Digby

Will the hon. Gentleman continue to watch this programme, since it is extremely important to carry on ocean research with this new ship and since the Institute is no longer in such close touch with the Admiralty, which provided a certain amount of work, as it used to be?

Mr. Prentice

Yes, Sir. The programme for the coming year is an exciting one. It will be carried out around the world in co-operation with many other countries and we are watching the matter with great interest. The estimate for the Council is up on the current year and will enable a very full programme to be carried out. We will certainly keep a close interest in this ship.