HC Deb 22 July 1968 vol 769 cc25-6
32. Mr. Hooley

asked the Minister of Technology if he is satisfied with the co-operation of British industry with the grant-aided Scientists Appointment Service, designed to attract British scientists back from North America; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Benn

This Service has been operating in its present form for only three months, and it is too early yet to assess its results. However, the initial response from industry has been quite encouraging.

Mr. Hooley

Is my right hon. Friend aware of a rather disquieting report of the Royal Institute of Chemistry quoted in theSheffield Morning Telegraph of 10th July that 200 top-rank British scientists are trying to return from America and that industry has shown an interest in only four? Can he jolt his industrial friends on this?

Mr. Benn

It has always been the case that large numbers of people in the United States, both British residents there and Americans, would like to work in this country, and the brain drain has always been seen, at least in part, as a problem of British industry's absorbing good people and using them fully.

Mr. David Price

Is the Minister aware that some evidence has come to me that the Scientists Appointment Service is not necessarily asking the right questions of British scientists in America in order to get the marriage of their talents to British industry? I should like an opportunity to talk to him about this.

Mr. Benn

I have no doubt that there can be an improvement in techniques, but the Service has been going for only about 12 weeks. Its object is to improve the prospects of bringing people home. If the hon. Gentleman has any suggestions, I should be very grateful to hear them.