HC Deb 03 March 1966 vol 725 cc1470-1
27. Sir B. Janner

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science, in view of the plans being made by the French Government to embark on an extensive programme of undersea research, what plans he has for seeking Anglo-French co-operation in this as in other highly technical spheres of common interest.

Mr. Prentice

Details of the French Government's intentions for research in this field have not been made known to us, but there have been unofficial exchanges between scientific organisations in the two countries and my right hon. Friend is prepared to consider any proposals that may be made. British oceanographers and geologists at research establishments of the Natural Environment Research Council and at universities have co-operated with French scientists in research of this kind and will continue to do so on projects of mutual interest.

Sir B. Janner

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply, but is he aware that stations for intensive research in oceanography are at present being established in France and the French are making a big move in this direction? In order to avoid duplication and to assist this work, which is very important from our point of view, will he again get in touch with the French authorities to see whether we can co-operate in some way on this venture?

Mr. Prentice

The Natural Environment Research Council is at present undertaking a review of the future orientation of oceanographic research in this country, and I am sure that it will bear that suggestion in mind.

Mr. David Price

Will not the Minister agree that, in terms of further knowledge of what is happening under the oceans, the biggest problem is not so much international co-operation as the need to get oceanographers and geophysicists—the two main branches of science involved—to get together and speak the same language? This is an infinitely bigger problem than international co-operation.

Mr. Prentice

There are several contacts. There is the Inter-Governmental Oceanographic Commission on which Britain and France along with many other countries are represented. There is a good deal of contact on that body.