§ 2. Mr. Neil Thorne
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress his Department has made in providing for the secure storage of industrial knowledge in the event of war.
§ The Minister for Information Technology (Mr. Geoffrey Pattie)
The secure storage of industrial knowledge is a matter for the companies possessing it.
§ Mr. Thorne
As the Government consider it prudent to spend over £17,000 million a year on defence, would it not be advisable seriously to consider the need to preserve industrial knowledge so that if the worst were to happen we would have something to fall back on, and not have to rely on other countries which are taking these precautions to preserve this knowledge for us?
§ Mr. Pattie
It rather depends on what my hon. Friend means by "industrial knowledge". The House is aware that an inter-departmental study led by my Department is currently under way to identify the military and civil needs for industrial products in times of crisis and industry's ability to meet them. It may be that my hon. Friend has that in mind, in which case I can tell him that the study is currently in train.
§ Mr. James Lamond
If the worst were to happen, as the hon. Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Thorne) said, surely that would mean the complete annihilation not only of the industrial buildings but of the people of this country? There would be little need, if any, for industrial knowledge following that.
§ Mr. Pattie
The hon. Gentleman is taking a particular view of certain future events. It is perfectly in order for my hon. Friend to ask his question to see whether contingencies are being worked on.