HC Deb 24 July 1973 vol 860 cc1393-4
15. Mr. Adam Hunter

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she is satisfied with the results being achieved by the work of the Office for Scientific and Technical Information; and if she will make a statement.

Mrs. Thatcher

I am satisfied that there is wide recognition of OSTI's work in investigating thought about information needs, methods of handling and presenting information, and problems of system management and of professional and user education. All projects supported by OSTI are independently refereed and the balance of work so supported is reviewed annually by the Advisory Committee for Scientific and Technical Information.

Mr. Hunter

Is the right hon. Lady satisfied that all computerised technical information services are more efficient and less costly than other systems? Is she aware of the strong feeling that there has been a great deal of wasteful expenditure by the Office for Scientific and Technical Information? Would not the right hon. Lady agree that, because the argument about manually operated and computerised services will continue for some time, an independent inquiry should be held and a committee composed of nonscientists should be set up to discover the merits and demerits of both systems?

Mrs. Thatcher

I doubt very much whether, on research projects, a committee of non-scientists could adjudicate on computer or manual methods for the retrieval of information. I think the hon. Gentleman knows that OSTI receives few applications for work of a manual kind and that none has yet won support from independent referees. OSTI has set up a committee to consider this matter, and one of the persons about whom the hon. Gentleman is particularly concerned has been invited to attend.