HC Deb 14 May 1973 vol 856 cc999-1000
9. Mr. Douglas

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the United Kingdom contribution to the 1973 Offshore Technology Conference and Exhibition at Houston, Texas.

Mr. Anthony Grant

With 37 firms exhibiting, plus the attendance of an important trade commission, a large group of United Kingdom visitors and a number of officials, the United Kingdom made a major contribution to the 1973 Offshore Technology Conference and Exhibition at Houston. I am informed that the British exhibits were highly successful.

Mr. Douglas

Will the Minister tell us how this major contribution may be made in advance of the appointment of the Government's trouble-shooter, Lord Polwarth? Will he tell us the terms of reference of Lord Polwarth, as the exhibition referred to in the Question and other exhibitions are continuing items of great importance to Scottish and United Kingdom industry?

Mr. Grant

I do not think that the appointment of my noble Friend is relevant to the Question or to this exhibition. This is an entirely different question, and I cannot add anything to what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has said at this stage.

Mr. Eadie

But since the hon. Gentleman must be aware that the Americans are coming near to the end of their space programme, has any thought been given to allocating substantial amounts of research and development finance to offshore technology to enable us to attract back to the United Kingdom some of our best technological brains who in earlier years went to America? The University Grants Committee is a rather pathetic instrument with which to try to deal with this problem.

Mr. Grant

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point which I shall study carefully, but in general we have reacted to the IMEG report, and the full facilities of the Industry Act are available to help in this connection. I take on board the point made by the hon. Gentleman.