HC Deb 09 August 1966 vol 733 cc1371-2
14. Mr. Harold Walker

asked the Minister of Technology to whom the reports and information from the Production Engineering Research Association are made available; and what restrictions are placed on their dissemination.

Mr. Shore

The Association's Annual Report is sent to the Press and other non-member bodies. Other reports are confidential to members of the Association but are also available to Government Departments, and general release is made after three years. Reports on sponsored projects normally remain confidential to the sponsor.

Mr. Walker

Does my hon. Friend realise that one of the great defects of this and similar institutions is that, in a period of our development when we are desperately in need of scientific research, we are deliberately starving the small firms and individuals who can make best use of assistance, instead of making sure that the taxpayers' money going into these institutions provides results that are made available to those providing the money in the national interest?

Mr. Shore

I understand and sympathise with my hon. Friend's point of view, but I would point out that the reports that are normally produced by the P.E.R.A. are made available to members. There are well over 1,000 members, and I do not think this provision is particularly restrictive. Where the restriction comes in is in relation to those projects that are paid for on a sponsor basis by individual members, and it is rather difficult to insist that such reports should be made available to everyone. We should have to look at this position very closely, indeed.

Mr. J. H. Osborn

Is it not possible that membership by these firms would give them the information they want?

Mr. Shore

That is a fair point, because, as far as I can see, membership is open virtually to all firms in the engineering industry. As I say, a very large number of firms—1,100 or so—are members, and there is also a category of associate member which brings in many technical colleges and departments of engineering at universities.