HC Deb 18 July 1967 vol 750 cc1715-6
Q4. Mr. Hugh Fraser

asked the Prime Minister whether he will now set up a body draw from scientists and businessmen and chaired by a person outside Parliament urgently to recommend to him the outlines of a national programme for sea use and marine science and technology.

The Prime Minister

I think we should await the outcome of the reviews referred to by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science in answer to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) on the 3rd of July.—[Vol. 749, c. 195.]

Mr. Fraser

Would the Prime Minister agree that at the moment the gap between technology and science is widening the failure to identify targets, and, what is more, that one has little cause to appreciate what use his Ministers are in this process? They have had two years to sort it out, and the truth is that they have failed.

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Gentleman initiated a useful debate on this subject not long ago and I have nothing to add to what was said then. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, the Natural Environment Research Council, which was set up after we came to office, is examining various research projects which promise to lead to economic benefit. It will be some little time before it can identify its targets in this field.

Mr. Maxwell

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that oceanography is a science which we as an island nation should support very strongly as it has tremendous potential not just for purposes of defence, but also for purposes of agriculture, environment, weather control, and all these things to which at present we are not devoting anything like the resources that we should devote—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member must be brief, or he will get into deep water.

The Prime Minister

I agree with my hon. Friend about the importance of oceanography and indeed about underwater geology which is now yielding valuable results. It is a question of how much of our resources, financial and otherwise, can be devoted to this compared with competing claims on our science and technology budget.