HC Deb 02 May 1967 vol 746 cc306-8
Q6. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Prime Minister why it has been decided that the Building Research Station should be transferred to the Minister of Public Building and Works; and what proposals he has to safeguard the independence of this scientific establishment in its new administrative setting.

The Prime Minister

I would refer my hon. Friend to the Answer I gave on 20th April to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green (Mr. Hilton). Detailed arrangements for the future of the Station and its work are being prepared by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Public Building and Works and he will, I know, wish to make a further statement to the House in due course.—[Vol. 745, c. 152.]

Mrs. Short

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there are important research projects now being held up, some of which have important export potential, because there are no administrative or financial decisions being made in the interim period between now and 1st July when the transfer takes place? This is an intolerable situation. Will he look into it personally?

The Prime Minister

I am certainly not aware that anything is being held up by the conditions of the transfer. The transfer, on which I know my hon. Friend has views, was one on which a lot of time was spent, and it is a very finely balanced argument. I think it right that this Building Research Station should be sited within the Department which has the greatest call on its work and which is involved in the future work and research activities of the station.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

Does the Prime Minister recognise that the confidence of the industry is somewhat shaken by what happened to the National Building Agency? Will he ensure that some weight is put behind the Minister of Public Building and Works to ensure that this station does not go over to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government?

The Prime Minister

The Building Research Station has had a great reputation for many years. I remember being very much associated with it more than 20 years ago. We all know its high standard. I thought it would have more authority if it came under the responsibility of the Minister charged with responsibility for building activities. There is no question of transferring it to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government.

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