HC Deb 11 July 1967 vol 750 cc403-4
20. Mr. Bob Brown

asked the Minister of Technology what plans he has for the siting of a Government civil research establishment in the Northern Region; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Dell

There is no present national requirement for a new Government civil research establishment. Were another to be required the claims of development areas would be given special consideration.

Mr. Brown

Is my hon. Friend aware that that is a very unsatisfactory answer for the Northern Region, that we are the only region without such facilities, that we are taking more than our fair share of the economic ills of the country and that we consider that the provision of such an establishment is long overdue?

Mr. Dell

I am sorry that my hon. Friend is disappointed, but we cannot establish a new civil research establishment merely to put one in the North-East. I suggest that perhaps a better way of thinking about the problem would be if industry in the North-East approached the Ministry of Technology with schemes for research and development with which we could assist. That would certainly assist my hon. Friend's object more rapidly.

Mr. Blenkinsop

Is not my hon. Friend aware that private research establishments in the North-East have been pressing this line for Government support for some time and have justice in their claim that they have not had all the good will that they could reasonably have expected?

Mr. Dell

If my hon. Friend is referring to a certain research establishment in the North-East, I assure him that we are doing everything we can to give that organisation research contracts and that we have had some success.

Dame Irene Ward

Will the Minister bear in mind that we keep on asking for things for the North-East, such as for notice to be taken of the port of the Tyne, but that we were greeted with very frosty responses? Am I to take the Minister's charm towards his hon. Friends as meaning that the Government will now change their views and will help us on the North-East with regard to the Tyne?

Mr. Dell

The hon. Lady will, I think, agree that we are helping the Tyne a great deal. One of her particular interests—for example, Tyne shipbuilding— is likely to gain very great assistance from the recent passing of the Shipbuilding Industry Act.