HC Deb 12 February 1968 vol 758 cc929-30
11. Mr. Lubbock

asked the Minister of Technology what consultations were held with the Royal Society, the Confederation of British Industry and the Council of Engineering Institutions, respectively, on the preparation of the Anglo-Soviet technological agreement.

Mr. Benn

Close consultations were held with the Confederation of British Industry, whose Captains of Industry visit to the Soviet Union had resulted in agreement for collaboration by industry in a number of areas. No direct interests of the Royal Society or Council of Engineering Institutions were similarly involved. I shall consult them as necessary in the course of implementing the agreement.

Mr. Lubbock

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the C.E.I. and the Royal Society might have liked to be consulted about the preparation of the agreement, and, although it is too late to rectify that now, will he ensure that in the meetings which will be arranged between himself and Mr. Kirillin or the representatives of each party the C.E.I. will be asked to nominate persons who would assist in the deliberations?

Mr. Benn

I shall certainly keep in touch with the C.E.I. on this, as I have done over a whole number of issues since I have been in the Department. Professor Blackett is my scientific adviser and Deputy Chairman of the Advisory Council on Technology, and the relations through him with the Royal Society have been good. I shall not overlook any possibilities of bringing these organisations in.

Sir H. Legge-Bourke

Is it not important to distinguish between collaboration in the scientific general basic research field and collaboration and doing business on a commercial basis in technological equipment? Will the right hon. Gentleman make clear that there is a clear distinction between the rôles of the Royal Society on the one hand and industry on the other?

Mr. Benn

That is right. That is why I have encouraged the C.B.I. to make its own direct contacts and have worked closely with it. It is taking the lead in most areas of industrial technology for the very reasons which the hon. Gentleman has mentioned.