HL Deb 21 November 1950 vol 169 c394

2.53 p.m.


My Lords, in the unavoidable absence of my noble friend Lord Samuel, I beg to ask the Question which stands in his name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask His Majesty's Government whether they are now in a position to make any further statement as to the prospect of establishing a National Science Centre in London.]


I am glad to say that it has been possible to overcome the remaining obstacles for the adoption of the long-term proposals originated by the Royal Society for a British Science Centre in London. To prevent any misunderstanding, I must emphasise that it will be some years yet before the Minister of Works can build such a Centre, but a start will be made on it as soon as re-sources can be found, having regard to other urgent claims. Provision will be made for accommodating within the area the Patent Office, and also its library, which will be modernised and extended as a first-rate central reference library on science and technology. Suitable new quarters will be built for the Royal Society and for other leading scientific societies with their important special libraries, most of which are now severely cramped in the rooms provided for them by the Government, not far short of a hundred years ago, in Burlington House or in other inadequate accommodation. New offices for the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, and for other Government scientific organisations, will also be provided. By this means buildings elsewhere will be released for other uses, and some economies in building requirements will be achieved.

The Centre will be designed to improve facilities and contacts between scientists and users of science, both nationally and internationally. Much detailed planning remains to be done, but it may be convenient for the many interests affected to have this preliminary advance statement. It. is hoped to announce the selection of a site as early as possible in the New Year, but it will be some time yet before a final scheme can be developed.