HC Deb 08 July 1969 vol 786 cc1142-4
10. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the proportion of Government research devoted to military development, health, agriculture, housing and industry, respectively, in the latest available 12 months.

Mr. Taverne

With permission, I will publish a table and notes in the OFFICIAL REPORT giving as much of the information requested as is available.

Mr. Allaun

Does not my hon. Friend think that £236 million a year on military research is excessive in view of the state of our country's economic health and in contrast with Government expenditure on research in these other respects?

Mr. Taverne

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence has announced that the amount spent on research and development on defence will be decreasing. In fact, it has decreased since 1964, from something like 60 per cent. to a forecast of something like 45 per cent. in the current year, but if forces are to be effectively equipped there must be adequate research and development.

Mr. Evelyn King

Is not the weakness of the Question that while it is clearly the duty of the Government to look after defence, in the matter of housing there is a growing proportion who like to look after their own problems?

Mr. Taverne

The hon. Gentleman has raised a different question, but one has to have regard to the meaning of "research and development" in the Question. In matters of research and development defence necessarily takes much more. In the matter of housing and kindred subjects, it is almost entirely research.

Following is the information:

Classification of Spending* Gross central Government spending
All spending, 100
of which Defence 51.5
Health and Welfare including spending by the Medical Research Council 3.1
Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing, including spending by the Agricultural and the Natural Environmental Research Councils 4.5
Technology, including civil atomic energy 24.6
Balance 16.3
* The classification is taken from that used in Cmnd. 3936, Tables 1 and 2 and in the Financial Secretary's Memorandum on the estimates, Table IIA and proposed in Cmnd. 4017 for general use in future in White Papers on public expenditure.
† Based on gross figures before taking credit for appropriations in aid: includes spending on Government support for research in Universities.

Notes on the Table

1966–67 is the latest year for which full figures of spending on research and development are available. The precentages in the Table are based on figures being prepared for the next issue of "Statistics of Science and Technology." Figures for central government spending do not distinguish research and development directed towards improved housing standards as such. This is because work in many fields (e.g. materials, heating systems) contributes to such improvements and the expenditure is classed under the technically most appropriate heading.