HC Deb 12 February 1968 vol 758 cc943-4
38. Mr. Moonman

asked the Minister of Technology what are the numbers and the levels of staff in his Department engaged on research or general background material in connection with the establishment of the European Technological Community; and what is the nature and scale of such projects.

Mr. Benn

My Department is actively participating in the development of the Government's proposals in relation to European technological co-operation. But it is not practicable to segregate this effort from that devoted to other aspects of the Department's work.

Mr. Moonman

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the reticence of his reply, along with those of his colleagues on Friday, will depress many people in Europe who have accepted the credibility of our proposals for scientific and technological collaboration in Europe?

Mr. Benn

If I were thinking of this from the outside, I should be much encouraged by the idea that European collaboration was not segregated from the normal working of the Department but was integrated in all the industrial divisions, where it should be.

Sir H. Legge-Bourke

Will the Minister bear in mind that there is a real danger of restricting and restraining industrial co-operation with Europe if we place too much emphasis on the Technological Community as such? What is important is that we encourage firms, for example T.N.P.G., to co-operate with European firms in getting on with a good job?

Mr. Benn

That is the philosophy we adopt. If the C.B.I., in relation to Eastern Europe, can negotiate direct, so much the better. We regard our job as the removal of obstacles which prevent co-operation taking place fully. That is why patents, specifications, standards, company law and various other aspects of collaboration are our principal concerns. We do not wish to do what industry itself can do.