HC Deb 16 June 1966 vol 729 cc1650-1
47. Mr. J. H. Osborn

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what information the Office of Scientific and Technical Information has about codes and procedures for information storage and retrieval; and whether he will now make a statement as to the best system for adoption nationally, bearing in mind the need to fit in with any international networks and the need to give advice to research associations and institutes carrying out research in the suitable system for their own specific needs at the present time.

Mr. Goronwy Roberts

The Office for Scientific and Technical Information is in touch with those responsible for the principal national and overseas plans for mechanising the dissemination, storage and retrieval of information. Many systems are being developed, but rigorous evaluation of their efficiency and economic merits is only just beginning and it is therefore not possible to say whether any one system will emerge as decisively the best.

Mr. Osborn

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this is now becoming an urgent problem, and is he satisfied that he is getting enough support at Government level?

Mr. Roberts

Yes, absolutely. The O.S.T.I. is supporting some very important experimental projects. It is continuously in touch with organisations in this country and overseas, and it is also working very closely with A.S.L.I.B. in order to meet the objectives which the hon. Gentleman mentions.

Sir E. Boyle

While recognising the difficulty of asking questions at this time of day, may I ask the hon. Gentleman if he would not agree that it is of great urgency that this evaluation should go forward, and that the retrieval of information will be a subject of growing importance in the years ahead? Will he undertake that this matter will be pushed forward by his Department?

Mr. Roberts

It is being pressed forward, but I take the point made by the right hon. Gentleman in his supplementary question.