HC Deb 11 March 1969 vol 779 cc1145-6
8. Mr. Crouch

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works what further consideration he has given to the undertaking by the Building Research Station of scientific experiments which would have commercial possibilities for the construction industry.

Mr. Mellish

I should expect most research and development with commercial promise to be undertaken by industry itself or by the research associations to which it subscribes. The Building Research Station has done, and will continue to do, some projects of this kind, but B.R.S.'s main function is research that brings benefits to the national economy, to government building programmes, and to building users as a whole.

Mr. Crouch

I am grateful for that reply. I recognise the splendid work done by the Building Research Station. Will the right hon. Gentleman make it fully aware of the commercial possibilities resulting from such scientific and experimental work?

Mr. Mellish

Yes, Sir. The Station does work on projects with commercial possibilities—for example, the development of compressed concrete panels, which are now manufactured under licence, and glass fibre reinforced plaster components. Industrial concerns are interested in both of these. Some of the by-products of the research certainly have commercial potential and the Station makes its findings immediately available to those who may be interested.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

Out of some 100 projects less than one-fifth seem to show commercial possibilities for the future. Should not the right hon. Gentleman look at this proportion?

Mr. Mellish

The benefits of the work done at the Station go very much wider than those projects which are able to be exploited commercially. For example, there is the benefit of the improved code of safety for buildings, and their fitness for purpose in their general environment. Industry appreciates this kind of thing as well. I may add that private industry does a great deal of research of its own and it is the function of private industry to look after itself.

Mr. Heffer

Is it not the case that, on occasion, research projects which would be extremely commercial have not been taken up by commercial firms?

Mr. Mellish

I am sorry that some of the work going on at the Station is not being more commercially exploited at present.