HC Deb 02 November 1970 vol 805 cc665-6
43. Mr. Carter

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what surveys have been carried out to determine the economic benefits derived from the Ministry of Technology's industrial liaison centres.

Mr. Ridley

Only one survey of this type has been made. It was carried out by a firm of consultants, and completed in June, 1969.

Mr. Carter

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the independent survey showed that these centres had benefited industry to the tune of £250,000? As they are provided at minimum cost, will the hon. Gentleman give the House a guarantee that they will continue and will not be cut out by the new Administration?

Mr. Ridley

These organisations, with others of the same sort, are being reviewed along the lines of the White Paper on the reorganisation of central Government to see whether they are a proper charge on the State and, if so, whether the present organisation is cost-effective and likely to produce the desired results. I cannot say more than that.

Mr. Benn

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that these centres have acted as a very useful focus for bringing local industry together with local universities and colleges and that if there were any inclination to discontinue them this would have an effect not only on the industries which use them but on the universities which benefit by an input of experience from local industry?

Mr. Ridley

Benefit has certainly resulted from these centres. The question which the Government wish to examine is whether the people who receive the benefit should pay the cost of them.

Sir H. Legge-Bourke

Would my hon. Friend bear in mind that before the Ministry of Technology was set up quite an important tradition was established by the old D.S.I.R. in this field? I hope that that will not be entirely eliminated.

Mr. Ridley

The Government are reviewing the position. I have nothing to add at present.