§ 2.55 p.m.
§ Debate resumed (according to Order) on the Motion moved yesterday by Viscount Samuel, That there be laid before the House Papers relating to (a) the use made by industry and agriculture of the results of scientific research, and (b) the policy which Her Majesty's Government propose to adopt to promote the higher education of technologists.
§ LORD WISE
My Lords, in resuming the debate on the Motion which the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, moved yesterday, I think we who speak to-day have a decided advantage. It is clear from the fact that there were twelve speakers yesterday and almost the same number will be speaking to-day, that considerable interest has been shown in this particular Motion. Noble Lords here to-day have the decided advantage of having heard the speeches which were made in your Lordships' House yesterday, and of reading those speeches in the cold print of Hansard. Therefore, we have possibly been able to pick up points which were made by previous speakers. We may be able to enlarge upon arguments which were put forward and give new opinions for consideration or supply answers to questions which were raised.
I think that each and every noble Lord who addressed your Lordships yesterday spoke on matters in which he was interested and which he wished to bring to your Lordships' notice. Therefore to-day I make no apology whatever for confining myself entirely to agriculture and the part which science can play in that great national industry. I was sorry that yesterday there was rather scant reference to the connection between science and agriculture. It is mentioned in the noble Viscount's Motion, and I thought that 121 possibly some noble Lords would have spoken on agricultural matters. I do not want to take the noble Lord, Lord Woolton, to task, but he certainly made two or three references to the connection between science and agriculture, and I thought from one portion of his speech, when he said that he would "like to turn for a few minutes to the field of agricultural research," that we were to hear a good deal about the increase in knowledge and the application of science to that industry, and about matters which must be of great interest to the agricultural community. The noble Lord finished that paragraph with these words—(OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 177, col. 56):There is no doubt about the increasing interest which the farming industry is showing in technical development and I could occupy your Lordships' time with many examples of the progress that has been made.The noble Lord will excuse me if I say that, listening as I was to his speech, with which I found no fault whatever, at that particular stage I thought that at last something would be forthcoming in regard to the great problems which confront the agricultural industry from the scientific point of view.
Be that as it may, before I go further with my speech there is one matter about which I should like to ask a question. Reference has been made to the Report of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy, and on page 5, section 5, paragraphs 23 and 24, there is mentioned the question of the quality of scientists. I call attention to that, because I think it is possible that the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, may be able to give me some information on that point when he winds up this debate. These paragraphs are, to my mind, very significant, and I feel that they are not wholly borne out by what the noble Lord, Lord Woolton, said yesterday. May I just read to your Lordships the points in those particular paragraphs which I wish to bring out? To begin with, we have this:We have heard many views about the quality of scientists now being produced by the universities and other training institutions. …In the next paragraph we find this:Although criticisms have been voiced, we are satisfied from the evidence as a whole, and from our own experience, that the scientific attainments of present-day research workers and of the ordinary run of applied scientists are adequate, and indeed high122 That was borne out by the noble Lord, Lord Woolton, in his speech yesterday. The paragraph continues:The main dissatisfaction in this respect has been expressed by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research"—and now I come to an important point—and the Agricultural Research Council, and we think that their views may be biased by the fact that many of the best science graduates appear to be attracted to employment outside the Government Scientific service.That statement I regard as very important, because if it is true, then great agricultural scientific problems which are troubling us at the moment are not having turned on to them the best scientific brains available. Here, in this paragraph, is a suggestion that the Government scientists are not in the same rank, or of the same standing, or of the same ability, as those scientists who are going into private employment. It is important, if that is not the case, that the farming community should know that the problems which confront them at the moment are receiving the best attention, from a scientific point of view, that can be given to them. The noble Lord referred to the Agricultural Research Council, and I believe that this particular Council, having attached to it, as it has, various research centres and institutes, and places of that sort, is doing excellent work.
Another point which I wish to put to the Government is this. It may be that this Research Council is hampered by shortage of funds. I believe that a figure was mentioned by the noble Lord yesterday, but so far as I can ascertain from the latest returns, the expenditure of the Research Council is about £2,000,000.
§ LORD WISE
If there is any question of lack of funds to attract scientists to the Government Service, it is a matter which should be considered seriously, in view of the difficulties which beset the productive efforts of the nation at the present time; and I believe that, if possible, it should be put right. I leave the question there. Possibly, in winding up, the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, may be able to give the House some information on the point which I have tried to make.
Now I wish to say a word on the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel. He made reference to the 123 agricultural problem and to the agricultural portion of the Motion which he was moving, and I commend that portion of his speech to the Government for their particular attention. The noble Viscount, having made mention of that very fine old agriculturist, Lord Bledisloe, went on to use these words:With fuller use of machinery, chemistry biology or veterinary science, agriculture might produce a much larger proportion of food for our consumption than is now the case, and would thereby lessen the dangerous dependence of this country upon imports.Then the noble Viscount went on to make this statement:Well, there is that time lag, not only in those but in a great many industries.I commend that particular passage to the Government and I hope that, in reference to my remarks, they will realise that while we are in this state of national trouble (if I may so put it), if we are to make full use of agriculture and increase our productive efforts we have of a very surety to bring in a full complement of scientists with all the knowledge they possess.
I think it is agreed that there has always been a time lag in agriculture as regards the implementation of new scientific methods. Our farmers—I speak in a general sense—are apt to be slow to adopt new methods. It may be that perhaps they are rather conservative; but at any rate they do not attune themselves to new methods and new improvements so quickly, perhaps, as other industrialists do. But I believe that we can say, giving praise to those engaged in agricultural science, that during the last ten or twenty years the industry has made tremendous strides. I remember that in my early days one very well-known society adopted as its motto: "Practice with science." That motto, I believe, is still in vogue. In those early days, however, there was, I think, more practice than science, and it was well known that a small amount of practical experience was better than a whole lot of theory and scientific knowledge, such as it was at that time. But there has been a good deal of co-operation during the last few years, and a record of service has been built up by the agricultural scientists in the interests of the agricultural industry. That is shown by the Agriculture (Poisonous Substances) Bill which has just received the assent of this House. Such things were 124 unheard of not so many years ago. I feel, therefore, that we ought to pay tribute not only to the agricultural scientists but also to those farmers who have seen fit and proper to adopt methods which have been put before them and advocated.
I should like in this connection to mention another matter, as we have just been discussing a Bill which relates to transport. Only this morning I was travelling to London from Norfolk and I came through that very fine tract of British country between King's Lynn and Ely. As your Lordships know, it is an extremely fertile and productive area. During the whole of my journey—and some noble Lords may say that as I was travelling by British Railways no doubt I had plenty of time to look around the countryside—I never once saw a dirty patch of corn. I saw some of the finest corn this country can grow. It was clean. It had been sprayed and there was not a weed to be seen anywhere. That is due not entirely to the farmer but also to the fact that we have introduced into agriculture scientific methods of weed destruction. Later on during the journey, looking out on the Cambridge side, I saw a field of late corn—it was possibly barley—and I could see that by this time next week in that crop there would be a mass of white and yellow weeds. That shows the difference between the use of science in agriculture and the old methods. We have advanced in that direction and I think it is all to the good.
The noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, mentioned yesterday the progress which has been made in fighting contagious abortion; and there are other diseases of cattle which we have more or less brought under control. For instance, tuberculosis and mastitis in cows, which affect milk production, have been brought under control by the scientists, veterinary surgeons and farmers working in unity. They have also mastered certain diseases of sheep and pigs. We have also entered into a period of improving of livestock by artificial insemination, which was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Woolton, yesterday. Artificial insemination has come to stay and in the course of a few years will be very much improved, to the betterment of our livestock and of agriculture.
These things are on the credit side of science, but there are one or two things 125 on the debit side which I must mention at this point. I had hoped that the noble Lord, Lord Woolton, would have made some reference to the actions of the Government in regard to the control of foot and mouth disease. This is a terrible scourge which is sweeping over the country at the present moment and we must use every effort to stamp it out. It may be said that it is imported from the Continent or elsewhere, but the figures are somewhat alarming. During the period of the epidemic, according to the latest figures that I have, there have been 421 outbreaks and nearly 25,000 cattle, 16,000 sheep and 10,000 pigs have been slaughtered. In a time when meat and foodstuffs are so important, these figures ate terrible. Of course, not all of these animals have been condemned and a portion have gone into cold storage to be eventually used for food; but the compensation paid by the Government for 303 outbreaks has been no less than £1,319,000, and I assume that when the whole of the compensation has been paid it will amount to approximately £2,000,000.
It does not finish there, because farmers experience tremendous inconvenience by the closing of markets in affected areas, by the collapse very often of a fine pedigree herd in a night, and by a life's work being set at nought in almost a moment. There is a loss of incentive and ambition among farmers, because none of them ever knows when he may have to meet this terrible disease. There is also a loss in our export trade. I hope the Government are taking every possible scientific step to wipe out this disease. It may be that new methods will have to be adopted. We are told that certain methods are too expensive: but is not the payment of £2,000,000 in compensation and the loss of many thousands of animals, which might possibly have been saved by some application of science, an expensive method of dealing with this scourge? There is another disease which has been sweeping over Norfolk and has taken toll of poultry stocks—that is, fowl pest. Here is another problem, to try to find a remedy for which we should bring into operation the full weight of the scientific advisers of the Government. It was said yesterday that there was a demand for more eggs; but if fowl pest spreads 126 through a country area, egg production collapses.
I wish now to call attention to the White Paper which has been issued by the Government in regard to the fixing of prices, a matter which may be discussed in another place this afternoon. In that White Paper there are notes on the future production policy of the Government. Some of these are very interesting, all of them are most important, but none of them can be carried out except by the full co-operation of scientists and practical agriculturists. Therefore I say to the Government that if they desire, as we all desire, that the efforts of agriculture to produce more food should reach a high level, we must be assured that full co-operation between all sides—Government, scientists and farmers—is available.
I should like to conclude with a small, homely illustration of what I have been trying to put forward during the course of my speech. We can well remember the pictures on the walls in our school days—in fact, sometimes one sees them in schools now—of little chaps climbing ladders, progress reports in school, progress reports in sports, and other things. There was one little fellow climbing up one ladder, and another little chap climbing up the other. May I put that into an instance with regard to agricultural science? At the moment the farmer, the practical man, is a little higher up his ladder, and perhaps you can envisage him looking down at the man on the other ladder, who is a scientist, and saying to him: "Friend, come up here." That is the object we desire: we want them both to go higher. We want them both to join up and reach the top of the ladder together. When that has happened, and we have joined practice with science, we shall achieve our aim of full production and be able to supply the needs of the people of this country.
§ 3.22 p.m.
§ LORD STAMP
My Lords, I should like to refer to two aspects of Lord Samuel's Motion in which I have some interest and responsibilities. The first concerns the broad subject of technological education and the most effective way of promoting its expansion. Undoubtedly the proposed new institute of university rank, when completed, will play an extremely valuable and important part in 127 higher technological education. But, as the noble Viscount, Lord Waverley, pointed out yesterday, there must be considerable delay before such a project can be completed, and an even longer period before its graduates become available. Furthermore, it is earnestly to be hoped that the present shortage of highly trained teachers in technology will have become less acute by the time the institute comes into being. Otherwise, it will result only in drawing them away from existing departments and institutes. A further danger that must be guarded against is that, with the inevitable concentration of effort upon it, and the need to justify it at all costs, the institute will absorb more and more of the available resources, so that existing, institutions suffer accordingly. I have no doubt that Her Majesty's Government have all these considerations well in mind. But for the immediate future, and for some time to come, it is clear that we shall have to rely on strengthening and expanding existing university departments and institutes, and in general on improving the standard of teaching in higher technology throughout the country.
The question arises who is to be responsible for the allocation of the increased facilities that have been promised for the expansion of technological colleges, and what is to be the basis? The further question arises whether anything can be done in the way of provision of machinery of a consultative, advisory and co-ordinating nature, to raise the general level of higher technological education throughout the country, particularly in those institutes (and there must be many of them) which cannot look forward to any increased aid. In considering these matters, I am prompted to suggest that there may be a very real need for some national body or technological council—a suggestion which has already been made in many quarters—although, of course, I am not suggesting anything in the nature of a Royal College of Technologists, a proposal which has already been turned down. The body I have in mind would, in the first place, be responsible for the allocation of grants for expansion, and would also undertake other functions of an advisory and co-ordinating nature, the need for which I believe has up to now been insufficiently emphasised. It would 128 have to be broadly representative of all parties concerned in training technologists, such as the universities, the Ministry of Education, local authorities, professional institutes and industries. It is to be hoped that it would have the independence and eventually attain the prestige which the University Grants Committee enjoys to-day. In this connection, it would seem that the University Grants Committee is already far too overburdened to be able to take on all the functions I have in mind. Nor is it representative enough of all the interests concerned.
In selecting those colleges most suited for expansion for higher technological education, as the noble Viscount, Lord Waverley, pointed out yesterday, one of the most important considerations, apart from their present status, should be their proximity to a university, and the opportunity for increased association with it, since only in this way can its students hope to gain a broad background of contacts, learning and cultural interests. As many distinguished students of the subject have pointed out, such a training and background is most important for the full development of qualities of leadership and character, qualities which are needed in all walks of life and not least in industry. I believe, therefore, that an increased emphasis on the university outlook is most desirable, even though it means that the technical college may lose some of its distinctive, less academic approach, on the value of which many have laid stress.
With regard to the other functions that I have mentioned, there are many ways in which technical colleges might be assisted to raise their standards of higher technological education, and in which their efforts might be co-ordinated, without at the same time destroying their individuality and a reasonable degree of independence of development. There is for example, the need for fostering the idea of an exchange of staff between different institutes, and the organising of facilities for such an exchange. The object of this would be to promote an interchange of views on research and teaching, and to give more opportunity for the less well-staffed institutions to have instruction from the most highly qualified and specialised teachers. There is the even more important need for teachers in technical colleges to be 129 brought continually into touch with the requirements of industry and with the conditions for which they are preparing their students. This might be met by a more general adoption of the plan of seconding of staff to different industries in a consultative capacity, as well as by the converse of inviting specialists from industry to give courses of lectures at institutes. The increase in the staff of institutes which would be necessitated would, of course, have to be borne in mind when staff requirements were being planned. Safeguards would also have to be provided against undue financial gain through abuse of the privilege of the consultant status.
Another way in which such a council might assist in promoting efficiency would be in investigating the possibility of sharing of expensive equipment for research and teaching between different institutes, in so far as geographical limitations allowed. Then there is the organisation of courses of lectures for the training of teachers in technology, which might be given by senior teachers and specialists in industry, perhaps as a long vacation course, when it might be possible for teachers from all over the country to attend. There is the promotion of courses in business management and administration in science and technology for senior students, a training which is so seriously lacking among many technologists entering industry to-day, destined eventually for high administrative posts.
While much of the knowledge required can be gained only by actual experience in industry, a valuable background might be given through special courses open to senior students from all over the country along the lines of those given at the Administrative Staff College, or through collaboration of different university departments. An example of the latter is the course in Technology, Economics and Knowledge in Business Management recently organised by two colleges of London University. The council might also give useful advice on the distribution of specialties throughout the smaller institutes. Many of these at present try to cover too much ground. If their activities could be restricted to the subjects for which they were most suited, and for which there was the greatest need, they would make a much more valuable 130 contribution and be much more likely to enhance their reputation.
From an advisory point of view, the council might be able to be of great assistance to governing bodies of institutes faced with the responsibilities of selecting and appointing an administrative head. In no other position in technology is it so necessary to have a man of the highest ability, status and character, and with the broadest cultural background. Not the least of his responsibilities is that concerned with developing, so far as possible, the opportunity for the students to acquire that broad background of culture, learning and a diversity of interests to which I have already referred as being so important. In this connection it is essential that a salary should be offered commensurate with the importance of the post and high enough to attract the right type of man.
I do not propose to go into the many other functions which it has been suggested a national body might carry out. They are fully discussed in the Report of the National Advisory Council on Education for Industry and Commerce, which produced the ill-advised recommendation on the formation of a Royal College of Technologists. Whatever may be the objections to the national body taking this precise form and having the functions outlined, it would be most unfortunate, in my view, if they were to obscure the need for some national body, or perhaps a Government Department, able to carry out the functions which I have suggested. Without this it is very difficult to visualise sufficient driving force being applied to institute the necessary reforms and improvements in technological education at least throughout the country as a whole.
May I turn now for one moment to an entirely different subject, but one which is within the scope of the present debate—namely, veterinary education and research? There is much to be said for the view that in the past a disproportionate amount of effort has gone into the study of human as compared with animal diseases, particularly when one considers the importance of animal health from the point of view of human nutrition and its contribution to the world food problem. It seems essential, therefore, that every effort should be made to improve the standards of veterinary medicine throughout the country, both by the 131 provision of more fully trained veterinary surgeons for their specialised practices, and for research into problems connected with disease, nutrition and the breeding of animals. The recent outbreaks of foot and mouth disease will at least have had one good result if they serve to focus public attention on the importance of animal health in general and the value of veterinary medicine to the community. In our pre-occupations with the Health Service and medicine, do not let us forget the claims of the sister science. In saying this, I do not wish for one moment to minimise the value of what has already been done, largely through official Government channels, in the provision of scholarships and fellowships in the veterinary field and in research under the aegis of the Agricultural Research Council. Government-sponsored research has made outstanding contributions over many years. But having regard to the extent of the field to be covered, and the not unlimited financial resources that are available from Government sources for the purpose, it would seem most desirable that, if possible, these efforts should be supplemented through other channels.
As many of your Lordships are aware, a voluntary organisation eminently fitted to do this is the Animal Health Trust. This organisation, which already has a fine record of achievement, aims in the first place at increasing the number and improving the standards of veterinary research workers by the provision of undergraduate and post-graduate scholarships and fellowships. In this way it hopes to benefit veterinary research as a whole. It also aims at supplementing the research efforts of other organisations by filling gaps that at present exist. As Mr. Tom Williams said when he was Minister of Agriculture:I welcome this opportunity to express my profound and ardent support of the work of the Animal Health Trust as undertaken so far. … This work is in no sense a duplication of the work being done under the auspices of the Government; rather do I regard it as being supplementary to the work carried out at Government experimental stations. I am sure there is a wide set of problems that is not covered by official stations, and in these the Trust is able to play an important part.It is therefore to be hoped that Her Majesty's Government will continue to give the Animal Health Trust every en- 132 couragement. If it were possible to give it financial support, matching that which it receives from public and private subscriptions, it would pay a vast dividend in expanding the scope of its activities and encouraging still further the voluntary effort. Clearly, the more veterinary education and research can be augmented by such a voluntary organisation, the more can be attempted and the greater the benefit to the community.
§ 3.38 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF COVENTRY
My Lords, I speak to the second part of this Motion, not at the high level in which it was introduced or on the high level at which the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, will end the debate, but simply as a working and practising educationist who has spent ten years in Coventry. I want to develop a particular thesis of the technological university, set not in abstraction at some headquarters in London but where it should be rightly placed in relation to the working pattern of industry.
I had some experience a good many years ago in the North of England in contact with industrialists in Coventry. I had discussed with them the working of science in relation to industry. Just after the war, I was working with the help of industrial friends and with the Professor of Metallurgy at Cambridge University, and I had full advice from the biggest expert in Germany on tool machines. I was also in touch with the trade unionists and with one or two members of the Government on the question of a technological university situated in Coventry itself. The thesis of a technological university followed these lines. Able industrialists I know spoke of the abstract training in science at the university, of the scientist coming into industry not knowing from the inside the technical processes of the industry itself; therefore he did not bring the initiative to ask the right and the new question. One had to ask the question and then set him to find the answers. Whittle has been mentioned by noble Lords. I would remind those noble Lords that Whittle trained in the industry. I am quite sure that Coventry has any number of potential Whittles, if it is given the opportunity of eliciting them.
To illustrate what I have to say, let me speak of Coventry. I have been 133 round twenty to twenty-five engineering factories in the last five months. Coventry is the last word in modern industry. I could give your Lordships a picture of its interlocking unity on the engineering side: light subsidiary engineering, tool machines on a very big scale, the motor of every type, and the aeroplane—an interdependent unit in the use of steel and light metal alloy. It is a centre where one can see scientific research being deployed on one overall related problem, and see the direct application of technology, the whole of Coventry's engineering being a single research area on one group of problems which can be isolated and therefore scientifically handled.
I give a picture of the actual technical training at the moment. There is a technical college—known as the "Tec"—where 10,000 to 12,000 students take courses every year. I cannot speak highly enough of the efficiency and competence of its staff. But its function is limited. The students are mostly part-time students, being trained ad hoc to get through an examination quickly. They cram with zeal, but there can be little university spirit: there is no leisure of mind for it. Working "under a collar" against time, they train to get the qualifications for a limited technical job, to which they go straight from the "Tec." More and more industry specialises, and limits any further and broader scientific interest. To return to the possible technological university: you can best see it if you can break the general idea down and see it decentralised locally, to deal with one particular area of industry. And here is a key issue, where the whole working industry at your door, in its human management and trade union setting, as well as in its technological problems, forms your research laboratory.
What will be the conditions of a right policy? The first priority is to find scientists of the front rank. You will not get them without the prestige of a university and without the kind of independence a university standing gives. One excepts, for instance, Courtauld's, where there is a team of research. But even their scientists do their work in isolation from anything like the university stimulus. Under front-rank scientists you would first train university science graduates in post-graduate courses. All science depends on the inspired leadership of a 134 team gathered round first-class research teachers. You could then get a team of research people on light metal alloy machine-tools, aeroplanes and the motor. Graduates from the universities would be trained in research within the actual field of industry and should then move on to the industry itself.
The next stage will bring into that setting at a second level the present "Tec," extended to provide degrees or diplomas. The university nucleus gives the stimulus and imagination at present lacking. Bigger and bigger red-brick universities certainly do not mean better and better universities. Thirdly, such universities should include short courses of six months or a year, or less, for all sorts and conditions of men seconded from industry—shop stewards, foremen and junior management. The courses should be cultural as well as technical. The cultural aspect you cannot exaggerate. At present the intelligible resentment felt by the shop steward and trade unionist is caused by the inability to speak and think articulately on the same cultural level, or think in the same terms, as management, and it is deep and inhibiting. If you could revive residential colleges in Rugby, it would be well. The British Thomson-Houston Company and the English Electric Company do set up large hostels where apprentices of all levels live together, and they get speak a common tongue before they difurcate into different levels of the industry. I should like to see adopted the present system at Yale University, where the resident colleges have tutors solely concerned with pastoral care and cultural interest.
Given some such picture, you could see what is wanted: a training ground for science to ask the right questions within the actual industry and not to work in abstraction from it. You could get top rank men then from Cambridge or elsewhere and you would get postgraduate work from university graduates from all over England and from overseas; and you would bridge their minds into industry. Bring the technical college up to the fringe of the university and you would find your Whittles and, above all, you would get the one thing needed. You can call it a technological answer—the human factor, the key, which is that of personal relations in industry, all merging together in a common field and in a 135 social setting of men and management, talking the same tongue. This human aspect, as much as scientific technology, holds the future of production, morally as well as economically, of English industry.
It is no good noble Lords or the Government preaching sermons in general terms to the industrialist about how he ought to apply science to industry. In the last few months I have seen personally and individually about seventy different Coventry industrialists. They are men of great ability and imagination, or they would not be where they are. But they are concerned during almost the whole of their time with the immediate problems of their own management. But take Dunlop and see how, within a particular factory, years of research by men trained within their own works has developed to the highest degree; and people engaged in the industry do cross-reference, from trade journals and engineering papers, their own work.
I ask the noble Lord who will reply tonight for the Government whether he will seriously consider this situation. The Government, with their scientific experts, can start giving the initiative. In Coventry we are about to undertake a very big expansion of the technical college. This work is in the hands of the local education authorities, and they will not be considering any planning in connection with the advices of industry. Nor have the Ministry of Education any value at this stage: they know nothing of industry. If the Government could approach the big industrialists, and certainly the trade unions—who in Coventry have very able leadership, and a rank and file of the greatest intelligence—and work in with the local education authority on the possible development of the technical college, new ground would be broken. Moreover, in any scheme properly handled the financial support of industry would, I am sure, be forthcoming. I can speak in terms of encouragement. In Coventry, great abilities are deployed in industry at the top level, with great skill and excellent quality in the trade union world. Any adventure which the Government undertook would be met with a capable and vital response.
§ 3.52 p.m.
§ LORD WEBB-JOHNSON
My Lords, I am sure your Lordships will wish me, in the first place, to congratulate the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Coventry and to thank him for the contribution he has made to our debate today. It is indeed refreshing to find that one responsible for the spiritual guidance—and, may I say, for the trend of their taste in architecture—of such an important and vital section of the community should be found to take an interest not only in their spiritual welfare but also in the industry which centres on his see and in the efficiency of the employers and the employed, and in the problems which they have to face.
It may seem that everything that could be said on this subject must have been said but, having put my name down to speak. I venture to make a short intervention. I recall (I think I am accurate in saying this) that one of the greatest scientists of our time, if not the greatest of more than our time, Lord Rutherford, said in your Lordships' House that sound policy could be formulated only in the light of the knowledge of facts. It is clear that policy in regard to the treatment of an individual or of a people has sometimes to be formulated without full knowledge of the facts, but in the problem that we are facing in this debate there are certain outstanding facts which to my mind are incontrovertible. In the first place, it is absolutely vital to the continued existence of this country that there should be an increase in productivity in the factories. Other countries have a higher productivity. Why? One of the main reasons is that the countries who are our greatest rivals have more generous provision for technologists in their industry. Not only are they more in number, but they are men of university standing. Another fact which emerges is that there is a time lag between the laboratory bench and the factory bench. This again, I believe, is largely due to the same reason, that there is a shortage of technologists, of the men who in the factories see the possibilities of the scientific discoveries which are made in the universities and published in the scientific journals.
In medicine in recent years we have seen enormous and rapid strides made, particularly in therapeutics, owing to the fact that certain professors, particularly 137 in biochemistry and in physics, have had in mind all the time the application of the line of research they are following. Another fact which I think is outstanding is that it is significant and impressive that those countries who are our most serious rivals have produced their technologists from separate institutes. In those institutes they are given a wider curriculum than is required just for the training in technology. They have had some general scientific and social background as well as the background of knowledge required for their calling. Their training has been broad based, and it is axiomatic that a man who has been broadly trained passes more easily into the development of a specialty than one who has been trained in one narrow specialty and then attempts to switch to another.
If the basis of education is on the right lines, specialisation spells progress. It has been outstanding throughout the history of medicine and surgery. Therefore I am rejoicing in the decision of the Government that there shall be a complete and independent college—the noble Lord the Lord President of the Council said "at least one," which makes me hope that the accent is on "at least." I am sure that in these separate institutes there is an atmosphere which is much more encouraging. There is not the feeling of inferiority that there is or has been in some of the universities, where an undergraduate in a technical department is regarded as not in the same cultural class as those who are being educated in the arts, and so on. I believe that if this institute is to be a success it must have complete freedom, both in administration, in finance and academically. The University Grants Committee gives complete freedom to the universities; I hope that the universities are equally prepared to give complete freedom to technologists. Like the noble Lord, Lord Stamp, I believe that not only the University Grants Committee but also the universities are overloaded. A large part of the responsibility for the Health Services has been thrown upon the universities. Moreover, it is notorious that the method of procedure in some of the universities is extremely tedious. It is almost as good a slow motion picture as waiting for a taxi man to find some change. It certainly is a slow motion picture, and 138 extremely irksome to those who are eager to get on.
I do not think these institutes should be dependent on the goodwill of the universities, nor should they be intimately tied up with local education authorities. The work they are going to do is not only of local but of national importance. If they are to have university rank then they must not be under the Ministry of Education. Again, as my noble friend Lord Stamp has said, if the Government conclude that the University Grants Committee is overloaded, then let a bold step be taken and let a special department be created to deal with this problem of technological education.
The universities will have a great part to play. Their faculties, particularly of engineering, should be maintained, and they could give enormous encouragement to research, particularly if they grant higher degrees for research and not as a result of further examinations. If they will accept theses, and if they will accept the records of a man's work as qualifying for the grant of a higher degree, they will achieve far more in the encouragement of research than by making candidates submit to further examination tests. The universities are not the only portals to the professions. In fact, I understand, there is only one portal to the legal profession and that is under the control of the legal profession itself— I may be contradicted by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack. There are many portals to the medical profession.
In my view, there is no reason why those who embark on a career in technology should not be held in just as high esteem as those who embark on a classical or other education. Such a student should be entitled to the same award. I believe—for it is the experience in medicine, surgery and obstetrics—that the diploma of the institute will soon acquire a prestige perhaps even higher than the highest awards of the universities. After all, we have Fellowships of the Royal Colleges of Physicians, Surgeons and Obstetricians, and Gynæcologists—and the Lord President is an honoured member on the obstetrics side: I hope he is going to "deliver the goods" on this part of the programme. The diplomas of those Royal colleges are held in the highest esteem throughout the world.
139 I hope that when giving final consideration to this matter, the Government will give complete independence to these new colleges. If they are given responsibility I have no doubt that we shall get results. There will be a great upsurge in the desire to improve education in technology. There will be a great stimulus to post-graduate education, and I hope that if these bold steps are taken the colleges will receive encouragement to pursue their work in higher education and technology for the benefit of the nation.
§ 4.5 p.m.
My Lords, I too should like to add my tribute to the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, for having introduced this Motion. He has drawn the Motion in such a manner as to allow a very wide range of important subjects to be discussed. Speaking at this late hour in the debate I think it is clear that the importance of science is fully appreciated in many directions.
The pattern of scientific research has greatly changed in recent times. No longer do we find the great lone scientist like Lord Rayleigh working in his own small laboratory at Terling; nor like J. J. Thomson in his laboratory at Cambridge, or Sir Charles Parsons working in his small workshop at Newcastle. The result of these men's work has transformed, one might almost claim, the pattern of the modern world. They all worked with what would now be considered very small and inadequate equipment.
To-day, research is very expensive. It requires teams of highly trained personnel; in general it requires very expensive apparatus, which it is far beyond the ability of any private person to acquire, and very often beyond the ability even of a university to pay for, unless it is supplied from an outside source. As your Lordships know, the different Government Departments have been generous in this direction. Private industry, too, has been generous in making donations of equipment and in supplying research scholarships and founding chairs. I should like to pay tribute to the wonderful research establishments that many of our private industrial firms have built up in different parts of the country. These establishments compare very well indeed with 140 those that one sees outside this country. But we must never let ourselves forget that there are great foreign establishments, admirably equipped, and staffed with very highly trained and skilful scientists. Too often, in going round an English workshop, one sees a large piece of machinery, or it might even be a small electronic device, with a British name on it. It has been made in England. But there has been a tribute paid in one of these research establishments overseas—it may be in Switzerland or America—and that is not very satisfactory to the reputation of this country. I only hope that the Government will do all they possibly can to encourage our own laboratories. There are, I believe, such things as research contracts and so forth which the Government give out. It is extremely important that we should be able to maintain the output of our scientists in these directions.
The noble Lord, Lord Woolton, I felt, in his most interesting speech, was particularly interesting when he talked about the Perkins story. The Perkins story is, of course, well known, and is frequently quoted as showing the complete lack of imagination shown by our grandfathers. My Lords, were our grandfathers very much more lacking in imagination than we are to-day? I ask the noble Lord whether he can help in this respect. There are a number of small industries in this country, one of which by tradition was of very great importance—namely, the fine watch industry. In the old days all the great developments in the mechanism of the watch came from England. Gradually we have lost this industry, and now it has practically all gone to Switzerland. I congratulate the Swiss on being so energetic. They are a very scientifically-minded and hard-working people, and they have taken this industry away from us. Not only have they done that; but alongside that industry they have developed a very vital industry to the existence of any country—namely, a precision machine tool industry.
I ask the noble Lord, Lord Woolton, in view of his views on the shortsightedness of our forefathers, whether he cannot do something to help the fine watch industry. I am not talking about mass-produced watches. Some enterprising firms have recently started the mass production of watches in this country, and my remarks do not, of course, apply to 141 this class of watch, but only to the fine watch. The fine watch is tested in one of the Lord President's own laboratories at Teddington, and if of a sufficiently high standard is awarded a grade A certificate. If it were possible for any watch given a grade A certificate to be classified as a scientific instrument it would escape purchase tax, because it would not be classified as a piece of jewellery. The number of high-grade watches manufactured in this country is infinitesimal. I can think of only one being made at the present moment. If the noble Lord can persuade his right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to allow this particular little piece of apparatus to be graded as a scientific instrument, should it be granted a grade A certificate, he might be doing something to save a high-grade industry; and people in the future might not say that we, in our generation, were just as shortsighted as our grandfathers were in dealing with problems of this nature.
That, my Lords, is aside from the line of discussion which I had intended to take, but I could not help saying a few words on that subject, in view of what the noble Lord, the Lord President, said yesterday. I think we agree that, unfortunately, although large industry is well seized of the importance of research, as has been mentioned again and again during the debate, this does not apply equally to what I may call the small traditional industries. The reasons for this are various, and difficult to explain, and I do not want to delay your Lordships by considering them in detail. It is most important, however, that the value of scientific research should be impressed upon these particular industries. I ask, are we really fair in being so disappointed at this position? Did we not see, not many months ago, a British Government embarking on a great scheme without ever considering in advance the scientific aspects of that scheme? They never consulted scientific advisers at all. They jumped into the scheme, with the inevitable result that it proved a hopeless failure. It was a classic example of what you should not do in dealing with a great project. First of all, you should have a scientific survey of the problem, and when that is completed get on with the scheme and carry it out, instead of embarking upon it without any preliminary survey. In view of 142 the course adopted, it was no wonder that we lost something like £40,000,000. I only hope that the nation will take this lesson to heart and learn the right way to use science in future.
As has been repeatedly said in the course of our debate, a great deal of Government assistance is being given in one direction and another. The noble Lord, the Lord President of the Council, gave us a most interesting account of the work of his Department. I think that one of the most successful features of this Department is the way in which outside people, engineers, scientists, technologists, who are members of his Committee, are able to advise him and his staff as to the direction in which work should be carried out. This system of outside advisers is adopted in the various research boards under that Committee, and I should like to pay tribute to the wonderful success of the research associations. I myself have been a member of one or two research associations, and I know that they do extraordinary good work in bringing together a whole industry in such a way as to enable possibly backward members of it to appreciate some of the advantages which science has to offer. There is another—and to me quite unexpected—side of these activities, and that is the way in which people who may be highly competitive when outside are brought together in harmonious conference. When they sit round the table discussing their mutual technical problems the atmosphere of competition disappears, and you get a very friendly meeting of people who are anxious only to consider the technical aspects of the matters under discussion, with everyone trying to help everyone else. I think it is a wonderful tribute to this movement that not only are you able to get across scientific ideas to different members of an industry but you are also able to draw the technical people together into an harmonious whole.
When we are thinking about this very important Department, the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, we really need a yardstick to see whether we are spending sufficient upon it, and whether we are satisfied that, as a nation, we are putting enough effort in this particular direction. It is difficult to find a yardstick, but I turned up the Estimates submitted in another place for the Ministry of Supply, just to see whether 143 I could get any information from them which would help me in trying to solve this problem. From this statement of the Ministry of Supply I found that the Vote for research development amounts to no less than £100,000,000. That is a staggering figure. I also noticed that it is £18,000,000 more than it was last year. We are spending to-day on the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research something like £5,000,000. In that connection, I note that we are spending £25,000 more this year than last year. These sums, I suggest, are hardly worth considering at all when we compare them with the vast sum of £100,000,000, which is being spent by the Ministry of Supply.
If your Lordships look a little more carefully at the figures of the Estimates submitted in another place, you will see that for one Department alone, the Department of Electronics and Guided Weapons, the amount for "Headquarters staff charges and salaries" comes to £371,000. That is comparable with the whole estimate for the D.S.I.R. staff, distributed all over the country, which amounts to £327,000. The Vote to be expended on civilian staff alone at establishments is interesting. It amounts to no less than approximately £8,000,000, compared with the figure for the D.S.I.R. of £2,300,000. If you look at the staff employed in this vast Ministry, you will see that there are 1,051 scientific officers, 1,001 assistant scientific officers and 1,444 technical assistants. No wonder many noble Lords in this House have complained that there is a shortage of scientists in various directions! There were 14,000 people employed in this one Department alone at the research establishments. I am not surprised to see from the Estimates that included in that figure of 14,000 were 788 constables. It certainly requires a number of people to look after an army of that size. One can only hope that the Minister in charge of this vast organisation is satisfied that our money is being wisely and efficiently spent, and that the unfortunate taxpayer will at some time get a satisfactory return for all this huge expenditure.
Most of the work of this Ministry is, of course, done behind the iron curtain of security, but it is not done entirely behind that, for some of your Lordships may have seen a very refreshing, lifting 144 of the iron curtain in the shape of a Report recently issued by the Harwell Atomic Energy Establishment. Here we learn that the work carried on by this Department in certain aspects is exactly the same as that carried on in a great university, and it is shown that scientific problems are studied there in a way which one is delighted to see. One also learns that radioactive isotopes are quoted at marked prices, and that anyone who wishes to buy them may do so. We also see that the authorities of the establishment are willing to assist industry in every way they can to apply some of the new discoveries to industry's own problems.
According to the Report, at the present moment industry does not seem particularly capable of availing itself of this service. It is certainly not optimistic about the application of atomic power within a reasonable period. That is a little different from the statement made in another place recently, when the First Lord of the Admiralty held out to us the hope that very shortly we should have an atomic-driven submarine. Does that not look as if there were a certain lack of liaison between the Admiralty and the Ministry of Supply? I would ask the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, who is a master of this subject, whether he does not think it is time that this great establishment at Harwell was given a board on its own, like the B.B.C. I cannot help feeling that an establishment of such stature as this, of international reputation, publishing important scientific papers read by everybody interested in scientific work, should be under a separate board, reporting directly to a Minister. I would ask the noble Lord, who himself raised this question in the House not very long ago, whether it is not time that this matter was considered by a powerful, independent Committee.
During the war a number of Government Departments set up their own research establishments. Things had to be done very quickly during the war years, and often a Department required an answer the next day; so, rightly, they set up their own establishments in order to find the answers. There are a number of these establishments still in existence. They are a bit of past history, a bit of the bad war years. Again I would ask the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, whether he does not think it time that the whole 145 question of these separate research organisations should be carefully examined. In the Ministry of Supply at the present time there are going on a number of researches that have nothing whatever to do with the real function of the Ministry of Supply: these are historic researches which have come down from the war period for some reason or another. Would the noble Lord not consider setting up a Committee to go into the whole of this question? This is important, because we want to be certain that the results of these researches are not stultified, and that they are given to industry as quickly as possible and in the most effective way. It has always seemed to me that there is no better body than the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research to carry out the class of research of which I am talking. Could the noble Lord not ask the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy to go into the whole matter and report back to Parliament what it recommends?
I have taken up too much of your Lordships' time already, but the second part of the noble Viscount's Motion raises such an important question that I would crave your Lordships' indulgence to deal with it, very briefly. What has interested those connected with university education is the recent statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he was providing a basic total of £20,000,000 for every year of the coming quinquennium for university grants, plus an increase of £1,000,000 per year. For all the universities, including all the departments and not only science, £20,000,000 is a small sum. Nobody is more interested in this class of education than the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I have no doubt whatever that he has done his best, and, in view of our straightened circumstances, he could not possibly have done more. But when we think of the increases in salaries that have taken place in the universities during the last few years and of the increase in the cost of materials, we realise that £20,000,000, when distributed amongst all the universities, is going to be a close fit. They will not be able to carry out the expansions which they had hoped in order to meet the need to produce more scientists, about which we have heard so much in this debate.
There is another grant which is shortly to be announced, a grant for capital ex- 146 penditure. I only hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be able to give the universities as much as he possibly can, because one of the things which is holding up university research at the present time is the shortage of buildings. Many schools are hopelessly overcrowded. They cannot increase the number of students, for whom there is such a clamour, because it simply is not possible to find additional accommodation. The question of finding adequate staff has already been raised. Highly trained men suitable to take Chairs of important departments at our universities are few and far between, arid the danger is that once a university loses the occupant of a Chair they have to go round the other universities and persuade someone to leave his existing Chair, to the detriment of that university.
I was glad to hear the interesting announcement by the Government of their views on educational policy. It is too early in the day for one to be able to study the full implications of that statement, but I hope the noble Lord will give an assurance that the costs of the new establishment will not impinge upon the exiguous £20,000,000 the Chancellor has already allocated for the quinquennium. I would also ask the noble Lord whether, if this new institution is established, time will be allowed so that the present shortage of highly qualified teachers may become less acute. If we are going to jump straight into a great new organisation, we can do so only by robbing the other technical institutions throughout the country, to their great detriment. The result will be that although we shall have the benefit of this new body we shall ruin technical education elsewhere, with the result that on the whole the country will be rather worse off than before.
Several noble Lords have dealt with the question of the shortage of technicians, and there is a point I should like to make about that matter. The Anglo-American Committee on Productivity made an interesting report on the relationship of university and industry. They brought out in that report something of which many people have been suspicious for many years—namely, that the proportion of high-grade students per head of population in this country compared with that in the United States is approximately the same. There is a serious difference, however, in what we might call the technical 147 grade; in this grade America is enormously superior. I believe that is an important factor which the Ministry of Education should consider, as to how to increase the output of technicians from their technical colleges, people who are graded at national certificate standard. For every high-grade technologist, in some industries, at least, you require forty technicians in order to maintain a balanced output.
A certain amount has been said in this debate about the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and I should like to add a few words on that subject. It is a very important body indeed. I apologise for mentioning a body with which I am connected, but it does bring out a point which I have to make: I refer to the Imperial College of Science. The Imperial College of Science and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are closely tied up one with the other: they interchange professors; they interchange post-graduate students, and the most friendly and cordial relations exist between the two professorial staffs. We yield to nobody in the technical education given by the Imperial College; it is very good indeed, as is the education given at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Time and time again we hear people, in discussing this question, say that the standard of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is higher than that at South Kensington. That is quite wrong. If any noble Lord feels that way, I hope he will come along to South Kensington to see what is going on there. It seems to be much easier to go to Boston than to get a taxi and go to South Kensington.
In addition to having this tie-up with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, we now have a tie-up with Zurich, and there again our relationships are most friendly. I should also like to show how broadly we try to spread the net by saying that we are now tied up with Charlottenberg. We felt it our duty as a great institution to try and help the German technicians after the war, and we even loaned them a certain amount of apparatus to start with. The letters that we received from our late enemies thanking us for our efforts to help them get under way again were quite touching.
There are many other points I should like to raise, but I have already taken up 148 far too much of your Lordships' time. I hope that we have not been indulging in wishful thinking during the course of this debate. All that we have been discussing is very expensive. If industry and agriculture are going to take advantage of all the pearls that science has given them, they will have to purchase new plant and new machinery and have new buildings. New buildings are an immensely important aspect of industrial life to-day. Many factories, through no fault of their own, cannot find new buildings. If industry and agriculture are to take advantage of all that science has to offer, they must spend vast sums of money. But where on earth is this money to come from? Industry is taxed so highly at present that it cannot possibly put by the sum that it knows it ought to put by in order to be able to compare in efficiency with foreign competitors. If we do not do this, while costs are going up, the quality of our products will go down, our exports will fall off, and we shall find that our standard of living will inevitably fall. If we are to reap the great harvest that science is so liberally handing out to us to-day, one thing is certain: we must make the Government and the country realise that the nation must have a lower standard of taxation.
§ 4.35 p.m.
My Lords, as an engineer I am very glad to have this opportunity of paying a warm tribute to the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, who has initiated this important debate. We owe him a lasting debt of gratitude for the wise guidance he has given the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee as its President. The future of our country depends, of course, primarily on the things of the spirit, which can and should inspire us to meet and overcome the difficult circumstances of our day. On the material side, the use, without stint or delay, of the full fruits of science and technology is of immediate importance, and in this I suggest that we are failing. I shall submit some facts which I feel sure will convince your Lordships of the truth of the assertion that we are failing to make use of the inventive genius given by God to a few. Since this debate is now in its second day, your Lordships will allow—in fact, will expect—these observations to be as condensed as possible, and will excuse me, I hope, of any discourtesy if I appear somewhat didactic.
149 Yesterday I listened with keen interest to the maiden speech of the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, which was warmly applauded by your Lordships. It was a model speech. But what a sad tale it told of frustration of the high purpose of that remarkable Department, the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. I am closely concerned with some of that Department's work, and I should like to take this opportunity of paying tribute to its Chairman, Sir Ian Heilbron, and to its permanent Secretary, Sir Ben Lockspeiser. Going on business all over the world, I hear from all countries expressions of the highest appreciation of that Department's work and the personal attention given to its affairs by the Permanent Secretary. To all this, I would add to the words of congratulation that have fallen from all your Lordships who have spoken in regard to the Lord President of the Council, the noble Lord, Lord Woolton, who presides over this Department. As he has told your Lordships, he appreciates to the full, from his experience, the vital importance of scientific and technological research. I would therefore ask him to use his considerable influence with Her Majesty's Government to restore the 10 per cent. cut in the Vote. The present programme results largely from Lord Woolton's predecessor, and the substantial cuts envisaged will gravely imperil the development of the Department in many directions.
Much has been said about the need for establishing a scientific centre. With this I fully agree, and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Woolton, will make this project very specially his own. Unless steps are immediately taken to see that those who lead in the scientific world receive remuneration at least equal (now it is two to three times less) to that received by those who administer the national industries, there will be no professors to carry forward the scientific work to which over the centuries Britain has made so notable a contribution. If my noble friend Lord Cherwell would combine three things, his wide professorial knowledge, his power as Paymaster General and his influence as scientific adviser to Her Majesty's Government, then there would be hope that our country could play a great part in the future.
As the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, pointed out, there have been several 150 debates in your Lordships' House recently on technical matters. In one of those debates on March 11 last, on cargo handling—a debate initiated by my noble friend Lord Winster—I made reference to greater use of the techniques and equipment of production in engineering. I pointed out on that occasion, and have done so on other occasions, that the full use of labour-saving equipment will not he gained until the problem of labour redundancy has been solved. In the past few days I have spent much time at the Mechanical Handling Exhibition at Olympia, and the day before yesterday I listened to a very important paper by Commander Hardy on mechanical handling in relation to ship loading and discharge. Following the delivery of this paper there was a discussion in which international experts participated, all paying tribute to the technical development which was taking place here.
As your Lordships may know, the majority of countries have combined together to solve the problem of the slow turn-round of ships—it is a vital question—and they are looking to British genius for the equipment, though I fear not for the example as to how it should be used. This exhibition is, by international consent, as outstanding for mechanical handling equipment in the world to-day as was the Exhibition of 1851 for manufacturing. Here lies an immense opportunity not only to sell this equipment which the world demands, but to employ it. It is interesting to observe that in a great, in fact a growing, number of the handling devices which are there being sold, one of the most interesting British inventions of the day is widely employed—that of fluid drive. This invention makes possible the transmission of power with a control of application superior to that of steam. It is an invention of world significance. But we are losing opportunities. Take the case of simple equipment like fork lift trucks, now fully used in the expanding industries, but not in the docks. Then take the two pneumatic grain unloaders: I understand that the same number of men employed to work the old-type unloaders are now engaged on operating these latest so-called labour-savers. My noble friend, Lord Crook—to whose speech I listened with great interest yesterday—is the Chairman of 151 the National Dock Labour Board. The other day he said:There is now a surplus of 9,000 men.As I have said before, and again repeat, there is bound to be a redundancy of labour in this non-expanding industry as mechanical handling equipment is introduced. It is essential, therefore, to face squarely up to this inescapable fact, and to plan housing adjacent to expanding industries so that men no longer needed in the docks can be welcomed—I repeat, welcomed—in another field.
In these matters we can learn from the results achieved by others. May I therefore give your Lordships an example of what is being done on the Great Lakes in North America at Seven Islands? There, 7,000 tons of ore per hour are being loaded into ships by ten men. In an hour and a half that gang can unload a 10,000-ton freight train, which means that each man is responsible for shifting 700 tons per hour. That amount per man-hour is a big figure as compared with our figure of about a ton per man-hour for general cargo, and it shows the immense advantage of these new techniques. I would suggest, therefore, that if the tonnage of cargo handled were to be doubled by 1960, the present labour force, given the full use of mechanical aids and techniques, would be halved. This would mean absorbing some 4,000 men per year in other industries, and that problem cannot be avoided with regard to efficiency and must be faced. The human relationship factor, stressed in a previous debate by the noble Viscount, Lord Waverley, dominates the issue.
I have said something about the non-expanding side of industry, and I should like to refer for a moment to the expanding side. I suggest that a non-expanding industry is one in which the effective use of scientific and technical aids will reduce the manpower employed. In the former are docks, coal mines and railways, while in the latter—the expanding industries—are electrical generation and manufacture, aircraft, automobiles and trucks, to mention a few. Since the expanding industries can see their increased output absorbed, there is a greater urge to the use of modern techniques. In the Economic Debate on February 20, I drew your Lordships' attention to the fact that the £500,000,000 fifteen-year modernisation and mechanisation programme of the 152 National Coal Board represents an increase in productivity of less than 2 per cent. per year. Just compare that with the increased efficiency in coal handling in power stations where, in the last thirty-five years, productivity has increased by as much as a hundred times. By this I mean that wages have risen five times and the cost of handling each ton of coal has been reduced to one-twentieth.
Electrical power generation is continually increasing, and that generated by coal as opposed to water should soon be produced more economically. The Anglo-American Productivity Teams, to which the noble Viscount, Lord Falmouth, referred, pointed out that each American worker has at least three or four horsepower at his elbow to, say, one or two for his British counterpart. In other words, this means that each American worker has sixty or more hands to command and each British worker twenty. Something should be done about that matter. As your Lordships will remember, some 70 per cent. of the cost of the majority of articles we buy consists of a transport or handling charge. Therefore, for this and other obvious reasons transport, its speed and efficiency of service is vital. There must come a rapid development in the mechanical handling of ships' cargoes, and this, as has been shown, is possible. Such improvements, of course, would throw into greater prominence the need for long overdue improvements in speed of service on the railways, and there is much that should be put in hand at once.
Taking goods trains first, I am sure that your Lordships who drove cars in the pioneer days, or who have driven them in the yearly run of the so-called "old-crocks" to Brighton to celebrate the victory of one noble Lord, Lord Courtauld-Thomson, who was instrumental with a few others in getting the "Red Flag Act" removed from the Statute Book, appreciate how difficult it is to stop any one of these vintage models. No one will have had more experience of that than the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, that great pioneer who spoke yesterday. By modern standards the brakes of these early cars would be classed as parking brakes, and no cars would be allowed on the road to-day fitted only with parking brakes. Yet we allow some 90 per cent. of our goods trains to dodder along 153 at some 10 to 15 miles per hour average, since braking is as inadequate as it was with the old cars. This miserable speed is determined by the safe distance in which the locomotive, with the aid of one brake wagon, which is all it has to help it, can pull up a train that may weigh some 1,500 or 1,600 tons and consist of some fifty or more freight wagons, all of which are unbraked. The driver has to be able to pull up within the same distance that a passenger train, with its fifteen coaches, travelling at eighty miles an hour can do. Obviously, the goods train must travel very slowly.
The solution of this matter is not difficult or expensive, since by the fitting of continuous brakes to all goods wagons freight trains could run with existing locomotives at speeds almost the equivalent of those of passenger trains. There are a few trains, which are called "fitted trains," that do so. By bridging this speed gap the number of trains running could be increased; there would be a far higher standard of punctuality, and the avoidance of these frequent "bottlenecks" at goods yards of which we often hear. So much for the improvement of the freight service, the life-blood of industry. But something can be done for passengers, too, in particular those who are served, or were served, by branch lines now either closed or offering infrequent service. One knows from one's own experience in Aberdeenshire how seriously the farming communities are affected by the lack of service, for example, on those two west-running lines from Aberdeen, the Deeside and Donside lines. The situation on the west coast of Scotland is even worse. Here is a field asking to be filled by Diesel railcars, shown by the experience of some seventy countries, Eire and Northern Ireland among them, to be from 20 to 60 per cent. more economical. Recently in another place the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport said—I quote:Rail-cars have long been studied and there was nothing that was not known about their design.Obviously, that was not the statement of an engineer—By their fruits shall ye know them.In the expanding industries great advances are being made in applying producing engineering techniques and equipment. In the automobile world of 154 Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Coventry our highly efficient American friends can be shown something not only to think about but to act on. In the State-owned industries of electric power generation—one of the expanding industries—the rapid adoption of new devices does not always take place at the rate which technical necessity demands. The advantage to be gained by the installation of some new piece of equipment may be so convincing that several area stations will be fully equipped, but there appears to be no way through the bureaucratic maze at headquarters which would result in such a device, having proved itself at one or more of the big generating stations, being installed all over the country. The bureaucratic "No" complex can, and does, prevent advance; and unless steps are taken there is a danger that the expanding industries controlled by the State will lag behind in efficiency. In certain directions, this is, in fact, happening.
As I stated at the commencement of these remarks, I am convinced, as an engineer, that we lead in the design of mechanisms, by the control of which one man can accomplish the work of many. Take, for example, the largest grab in the world, now functioning at Corby, where some six men are doing the work of at least 150. We have got to achieve analogous results (and we can see it) in all fields, and a visit to the Mechanical Handling Exhibition at Olympia, which runs for the rest of this week, will completely convince your Lordships that this country has the tools. We should follow the advice given by the noble Lord, Lord Kirkwood, in his maiden speech in this House and tell the "boys" on the job, in simple language, what has to be done to put the country on its feet. Then only will these mechanisms, with their attendant techniques, be willingly and efficiently employed. I first worked at the bench under my noble friend Lord Hives, who should have been here to-day, then chief of the minute experimental shop in the Rolls Royce Works at Derby. He followed, well over forty years ago, the advice given by the noble Lord, Lord Kirkwood, and he told us at the bench, in simple language, what had to be done, and why. We did what he told us then, and I am proud to pay tribute to one under whom I worked who to-day is responsible for the design and production of several of 155 the leading gas turbine units all over the world.
§ 4.55 p.m.
My Lords, my excuse for intervening in this debate is that I claim to be in fairly close touch with those scientists who have been trained in the schools and the universities; and I should like to add a few points to the much more authoritative voices that your Lordships have already heard on this problem of specialisation. The heart of at least one member of the Black Watch was touched by the anecdote of the noble Viscount about the Highland ghillie. In the fierce competition to get scholarships, or even entrance to the universities, scientists are not being given more than two periods a week devoted to any subject other than science in the whole of their last two years at school. Since our debate on Education the age level for the General School Certificate has been dropped, so now this specialisation will take place in their last three years at school. I met a boy this week, aged fourteen and a half, from the fifth form of one of our public schools. His timetable did not include a single period of history or geography; he was already specialising and was not going to read either of those subjects in his school career again—at the age of fourteen and a half.
I feel that I must requote the answer I received from one of our ancient universities when I was recommending a man to read science on his all-round ability and personality. This was the reply which I quoted in the previous debate [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 175, Col. 829]:…and in the mathematical subjects in natural science, it is difficult for us to do anything other than prefer the men almost entirely in terms of their capacity in their subject. We take a very different attitude in such subjects as history, where, of course, the men concerned seek employment which requires their general abilities, and where their personality is of importance, but a mathematician and physical scientist is employed as one without regard to his other capacities.That may have been dictated by an historian with his tongue in his cheek but it is really symptomatic of the trend of thought in our universities. There is a saying of Dr. Johnson's which I think should hang on every undergraduate's mantelpiece:A man, Sir, who thinks of going to bed before midnight is a scoundrel.156 My point is that those scientists who are reading in the universities that are not residential, and in the technological institutes, do not have the opportunity to "converse with the buttock of the night" and put the world to rights with their friends who are reading other subjects.
It is barren, my Lords, to rail against the evils of specialisation without suggesting some remedy. I acknowledge at once that I do not really feel worried about the scientist who takes a first-class honours degree. My experience is that the fine mind always embraces other subjects and acquires wide interests in its leisure hours. Again, I recognise that we must always have a small body of specialists, researchers in both the arts and the sciences, to fill the key posts in our laboratories, in our museums and the professorships at our universities. We are told that we have doubled the number of graduates reading science, but we have also in the same period doubled those reading the arts. Surely our problem is to persuade two-thirds of those ordinary, workaday, average graduates who get second-class honours degrees to read science, and one-third to read arts. I feel a solution might be found if the universities could offer rather more often a mixed honours degree course. I know that you can take a general degree at many universities to cover two or three subjects, but that has not the prestige of an honours degree.
May I give an example to illustrate what I mean? Suppose that in a college there are 300 men reading science and 300 reading arts. What we need is 400 reading science and 200 reading arts; and of those 400 reading science perhaps 100 could continue, as now, doing the full three years' course, but the other 300 might perhaps do one year of arts and two years of science and take their tripos as is done at Cambridge, in two parts. In that way we should have not more than 300 men reading arts and reading science in any one year. Therefore, we should not have to alter the balance of our professors or require extra laboratory space; yet the overall result at the end of three years would be that we should have trained one-third more people predominantly in science.
May I interrupt the noble Earl simply from the point of view of elucidating his argument? Is the noble Earl advocating that a larger 157 amount than at present of our university effort should be devoted to science? If so, will he explain why he thinks that is necessary?
It is because I have read the Report of the Advisory Council on Scientific Manpower, and it seems to me that it is numbers that are principally wanted, particularly in science teachers in our secondary schools. I think two years of a course ought to be sufficient to teach people in a secondary school the science to get to a university. After all, the main body of our scientists are being employed in the Fighting Services, abroad in the under-developed areas, in the teaching profession and in industry. In all those jobs they are dealing with people. Surely a year less ground work in science will be more than compensated by the broader vision that a year's study in the arts will supply.
I wonder whether the training of our officers in industry has not some analogy in the Army. There the officer cadets of all arms are first given a general military education at Sandhurst. They then join their regiments—as scientists join their firms—and get something of the "feel" of their regiment. In the next two or three years of their life in the Services they are sent on courses to study the particular training required for their own arm. I wonder whether that is not something of the correct relationship that ought to exist between the universities and the technological institutes. I feel that the suggestion that I have been making is borne out by some of the remarks in this Command Paper, which says:A scientist whose training has been broadly based can quickly learn other specialities.Again, a little lower down it says:We have been told that there are not enough scientists who combine the necessary academic qualifications and good personal qualities to fit them for senior directing posts.…An unduly large number of senior posts which should preferably be filled by men trained in the sciences have to be given to arts graduates and others.My Lords, if the universities offered this mixed course, what would flow from it? They would require the people coming from the schools to satisfy the universities of their qualification to read the arts year as well as the two years in science. The schools, therefore, would be forced to abandon specialisation, and 158 it would be a much more flexible operation for a person to change from, say, arts to science; whereas at the moment a boy at the age of fifteen starts on one ladder of studies, possibly through some purely accidental excellence in one subject at an early age. Nor do I believe it to be so difficult to persuade people to transfer from the arts to the sciences. A friend of mine reading English at Cambridge told me that he felt it was like living on ice cream.
By that I think he meant that he was rather sickened by the prospect of three years' study and detailed analysis of books and poems that he had enjoyed reading for pleasure. Indeed, for the second part of his tripos he elected to read a rather more scientific subject.
Nothing has been said in this debate about the large number of people going on public funds to the Arts and Drama schools, for whom surely there is not full employment today. Just as we are talking of linking the technological institutes with the universities, I wonder whether we cannot link these schools with the technological institutes. Thereby people could do rather shorter courses in drama and arts. Whilst we do not want to miss the chance of discovering a real actor or an artist, there must be many people who never go to the top but who are spending three years in these studies. We might fare better if we were to bring a fine arts course alongside draughtsmen on the drawing board. At any rate, whatever the solution, I feel that there is a challenge to the arts faculties of the universities to design some course that can be given to the man who is becoming principally a scientist. I hope that one of their choices of study will be a history of science itself.
I have recently read the "Penguins" on the history of Greek science. They tell an exciting story of the amazing Greek genius which was on the fringe of all our modern scientific achievements. There was, after all, but one stage between propelling a ball at the end of 159 a jet of steam and the steam engine; yet Greek science did not succeed, but degenerated into an academic contemplation by the few, and never managed to apply its great theoretical achievements for the benefit of man. It was a social failure, perhaps due to the existence of slavery in the ancient world, and there are lessons here for our scientists to-day. Yet perhaps it was providential that the scientific mind of Western man should lie fallow for twelve centuries while the Arab and the Hindu made the next advances. In the climate of the mediæval church Western man had the opportunity to build up a capital—a reserve—of the things of the spirit to sustain his moral nature in these succeeding centuries against the shock of all the new discoveries in the world of matter.
My Lords, I am afraid I have been to no university. I do not understand what administrative problems are involved, but I cannot help feeling that the time has come when our universities have to do some strenuous thinking, and perhaps adapt their constitutions to meet a new need: to maintain a supply of scientists which can sustain our wealth and influence in the world to-day and yet preserve all our old classical and liberal traditions of learning.
§ 5.10 p.m.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, like the noble Earl who has just resumed his seat, I should like to address your Lordships for a few minutes on the second part of the Motion which the noble Viscount moved in his admirable speech yesterday afternoon—it now seems rather a long time ago. But I hope the noble Earl will forgive me if I do not follow him into the very interesting topics which he brought up in the latter part of his speech, and which I am sure attracted the close attention of the whole of your Lordships' House. I should, however, like to say how very much I agree with him in what he said about over-specialisation at schools and also in the universities. It is a matter which, of course, has been engaging a great deal of attention, both in this country, and particularly, perhaps, in the United States, over these last years.
The noble Earl gave instances of scientists who had at an early age been deprived of all further teaching in the humanities. He might have pointed out 160 that an even more serious situation is endemic in practically all our schools. Art students at the same sort of early age are completely deprived of any further teaching in science. One of my boys who has only recently left a school with a famous name, on becoming a history specialist at the sort of age to which the noble Lord referred, completely ceased to have any further teaching in the natural sciences and, unfortunately, developed a certain contempt for them. It seems to me a most unfortunate thing—and not only an unfortunate thing but a really dangerous thing—that a boy can finish his education without having any real idea of the way in which the universe works from the physical point of view, important as, of course, the spiritual and mental sides of the matter are. I feel that unless we get back to a more even keel and seek to develop men educated in both directions we shall be in grave danger of losing this race.
I have already addressed your Lordships on the problems of technological education on two occasions—on one of them, I am afraid, at considerable length. The last thing I want to do is to repeat what I have already said, but I had the opportunity then of expressing in a general way the views of the Association of University Teachers which, after all, represents the large majority of the teachers in our universities. I would not for a moment suggest that there are not teachers—and teachers of great eminence, such as the noble Lord sitting opposite me, Lord Cherwell—who take a different view about this problem. But undoubtedly the great mass of the university teachers in the sciences in our universities, and particularly in what are called the "red brick universities"—where the greatest amount of applied science teaching takes place—are satisfied that the main mass of this teaching ought to be left to them, and that they could handle it satisfactorily if only they were given the tools to do so.
Before I go on to enlarge upon that topic a little, I should like to emphasise a point made by a number of speakers, and particularly by the Front Bench speakers on both sides, at the beginning of this debate—I refer to the absolute urgency of our moving rapidly in this matter. Both the previous speeches which I made had as what I may call their leitmotiv this urgency. If it were not now so late I should like to recall 161 some of the phrases which I used. I remember, in particular, that I said we should soon be moving out a the sellers' market, and that when that happened we should have to rely on new lines and much higher quality than we have been producing in these past years in some of our great industries. That situation has already arrived. The sellers' market has gone. I am not at all satisfied that the industries which are confronted by that situation are standing up to the problem in the way one would like.
Unfortunately, the last Government were not persuaded of the urgency of this problem. Much as some of us sitting on the Back Benches tried to push them forward, they could not be moved. Now we have a situation in which the noble Lord who is sitting opposite me has great influence in the present Government and, whether they are taking the tight course or not, from the statement made yesterday by the noble Lord, the Lord President of the Council, it appears that the Government are going to take action. I would impress upon them—though I almost feel that they realise it already —the real urgency of giving financial backing to the proposals and of doing so very quickly indeed. I was very glad that the Lord President of the Council indicated that great branches of British industry are altogether backward in this respect. It is, in my view, undoubtedly true. Of course, if it were said from this side of the House it would be received with scepticism and hostility in the industrial world. But coming, as it does, from a man of the eminence in business of the Lord President of the Council, perhaps attention will be paid to it.
I must say that I agree much more with the noble Lord, Lord Woolton, than I do with the noble Viscount, Lord Waverley, who said that he was satisfied that things were moving and that the great mass of industry was now aware of the need for the employment of high-class technological personnel in the various lines of activity. Certainly in that part of the industrial world which I know best, Lancashire, I do not believe that it is true for a moment, particularly among the smaller business units in those parts. All the evidence I get is to the effect that hostility towards the university graduate is almost as bitter as ever it was. Of course that is not true of the great under- 162 takings, such as that with which the noble Viscount, Lord Waverley, himself is associated. Concerns like Imperial Chemical Industries have from their earliest times set a first-class example in this respect, and for many years past quite a large proportion of the members of the board of that particular concern, and of other similar concerns, have been technologists—which is as it ought to be. It is the smaller concerns which are falling down in this matter. I would suggest that the Government should use their best endeavours to get over to the small family businesses a sense of the really urgent need of a technological approach to the problems with which they are confronted.
It is true, of course, that more scientists are being employed in industry. It is equally true that, if we compare what is being done here with what is being done by our great industrial rivals such as the United States, Germany, Switzerland or Belgium, nothing like enough of them are being employed. Our situation is a very serious one, because not only do we not employ anything like so many trained scientists in our industries, but when we do employ them we de not employ them properly. We employ them purely in a technical capacity; they are, so to speak, on tap to solve technical problems, and they are not given that sort of status which undoubtedly they have in the United States, in Germany and in Switzerland. There the technologist is one of the leaders of industry. If you look around at the captains of industry in these countries you will find that a large proportion of them are men who have had a technological training. Until we can adopt something of that attitude in our great industrial enterprises, we shall not be able to make our way, or hold our own as leaders of industry as we have been accustomed to think of ourselves in the past.
In the previous discussions we have had on this matter the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, has indicated that he, at any rate, is well aware of the need for speed. I have a number of marked passages in some of his speeches. I hope that he is still of that view and that he will bite some of his colleagues, as George It hoped General Wolfe would do his fellow-generals, because we have not very long at our disposal over this business. I sometimes wonder how many of our 163 industrialists realise how near we are to the edge of the precipice and how many of my fellow citizens realise that. I am sure that many members of your Lordships' House waken in the night and think of the situation in which we on this island are, with a population of nearly 50,000,000 and in a position to feed only half of them, with the demands on food all over the world increasing in every direction, with almost every one of those countries building up industry on modern lines. We are in a difficult situation, one from which we can extricate ourselves only by using our brains and energies to the very last degree.
In some ways I was glad to hear the announcement made yesterday of the Government's policy in this matter. In particular, I was glad that the Government have thrown over the advice of the Advisory Council to set up this absurd Royal College, which was riddled by every member of the House who spoke in the last debate, and particularly by the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell. At any rate that idea has been disposed of. With regard to the proposed technical university, I have no real objection. But I do not think it can be set up sufficiently quickly to solve our difficulties. The amount of time which we have at our disposal is measurable almost in months. It is not possible to build up an M.I.T., a Zurich or a Hanover in months or in years: it takes decades.
In our universities we have departments of applied science which are only too anxious to get on with this job. As noble Lord after noble Lord has pointed out, these departments have produced some of the greatest technical inventors of this or any other generation, and have been prevented from turning out the number of technically trained men required in present-day industry only by the fact that the financial resources required have not been placed at their disposal. That is the reason why there is such a shortage of science teachers in schools and scientists in industry and Government employment. The numbers on the science side of a university cannot be stepped up in the same way as those on the arts side. I can give the same lecture to twenty or fifty or a hundred students; it is only a question of getting them all into one room. But in the natural sciences, 164 laboratories are required. It is no good lecturing students on theory. If they are to be any good in the applied sciences they have to get down to the job at the laboratory bench. And it is a most expensive business, especially in modern science, to provide the sort of laboratory accommodation and equipment which is required.
I suggest that we can do that much more rapidly by increasing the financial assistance to the existing departments of applied science in our universities to enable them to increase their laboratory accommodation than by trying to build up some new institution like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. If we are to have such an institution I hope the Government will pay attention to the wise advice tendered to them yesterday by the noble Viscount, Lord Caldecote, when he said that he hoped they would take some existing establishment and build that up, strengthen it and develop it, rather than start at the beginning of a new enterprise which would undoubtedly take many years in the building up. I cannot see what advantage there is in this proposal to establish a technical university, because by increasing the financial assistance to the universities we could obtain our requirements more rapidly and just as well. We must remember that the reason they have not been able to do more is that they have not been able to get licences for building the laboratories they require. I suggest that instead of putting all their bricks and mortar into their housing schemes, the Government should give absolute Al priority to laboratory accommodation in the universities. It is not much good building roofs over our heads if there is not going to be any food for our bellies, and we shall not have food for our bellies unless we can increase the efficiency of industry over the next years. We can do that only if we improve the technological training of the people who are going to build up our new industries, and improve our old ones.
I gather from the debate yesterday, and from reading it over again in Hansard this morning, that the Government intend to upgrade a few technical schools. I should like to know a little more about that, and perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, can elaborate upon it. I should also like to ask him whether he 165 agrees with the noble Viscount, Lord Waverley, that this new technical university should be under the control of the University Grants Committee and not left to the tender mercies of the Ministry of Education. I should also like to know whether the upgraded technical schools are going to be under the University Grants Committee, because I entirely agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Waverley, about the importance of bringing them under that Committee.
It is difficult to see what real advantage there is in upgrading a few of the technical colleges up and down the country. That was first suggested in the Percy Report, but the Report gives no very convincing reasons for it, and although the noble Viscount, Lord Waverley, buttressed every other part of his speech with weighty argumentation, on this question he merely said that he was in favour of it, giving no reason at all. The great danger of upgrading is that it mixes up the training of technologists with the training of technicians. I do not want to go into this matter again, as I expressed my opinion in the previous debate and the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, agreed with me on the essential difference between the technologist and the technician. If you try to train them both in the same establishment, you will not train either of them well. It is, of course, true that there are two technical colleges in the country which are of university standing, each of which is closely connected with one of the universities. The one with which I am particularly acquainted is the Manchester Technical College. It is a mere historical accident, so to speak, that it is not part of the University. It existed before the University, and now, in all but name, it is in fact part of the applied science department of that great University. I believe it is much the same in the case of the technical college at Glasgow.
There is no particular advantage that I can see in taking this course, except possibly that some of the technical colleges have up-to-date laboratory equipment, and it might well be that to place that at the disposal of the applied science department of a university, which was sufficiently close to enable you to secure integration, might be a valuable way of overcoming this undoubted difficulty of the shortage of laboratory accommoda- 166 tion in the universities. I cannot see any other advantage. I hope that if the Government have decided to upgrade some of these technical colleges, they will upgrade them to become proper technological institutions; that they will cease to train the technician and concentrate the whole of their energies on technological work, and not try to do both jobs at the same time.
Finally, I should like to emphasise a point made yesterday by the noble Viscount, Lord Waverley, and made this afternoon by the noble Earl, Lord Wavell, as to the difficulties which are arising from the shortage of scientists. I entirely agreed with the noble Earl, Lord Wavell, in the little contretemps he had with the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, that we really must increase the proportion of the scientists in our universities. The situation at present, owing to the demands of industry, is leading to a shortage of scientist teachers in the schools, which means that the boys will come forward not properly prepared for their university work. It is beginning to lead to a shortage of scientists in the universities.
Since the noble Lord was kind enough to refer to me, and since we all agree that there is a shortage of scientists, would he agree that there is also a shortage of philosophers, theologians and historians in this country at the present time?
§ LORD CHORLEY
I am not able to differentiate. All I can tell the noble Lord is that on the arts side it has become more and more difficult to place the graduates during the last few years. The difficulty of a graduate on the arts side getting a position has become increasingly evident, and there are graduates who took their degrees last year who are still without satisfactory employment, That certainly is not so with the scientists. But the point I am making is this. The demands of industry, where they can, of course, pay much better, are already leading to depletion in the staffs on the applied science side in the universities. Within the last few weeks I have heard of several teachers who have been tempted from the universities into industry by the offer of higher salaries. The situation in the universities at the lower end of the teaching scale is 167 really deplorable. The assistant lecturer who is now recruited to a university staff is being paid slightly below the Burnham scale for a master in a secondary school. Until that situation is righted, there will continue to be real difficulties in the universities. It is only the absorbing interest of university work and the feeling of vocation which university teachers have which keep many of them at their work.
This problem is also being felt in the Government Departments, in respect of the recruitment of scientific staffs in those Departments. Therefore, there is now a competition in which the university teachers are being subjected to pressure, on the one hand by Government Departments, who can pay more than the universities can pay, and, on the other side, by industry, which can pay more than either the universities or the Government Departments can pay. The final result will be that there will be practically no teachers of science left in the schools; the universities will be deprived of many of the best of their younger teachers, and the whole of the base, so to speak, upon which this essential pyramid is built up will be washed away at the bottom. I hope that the Government will give real and urgent consideration to this problem, because it is undoubtedly a serious one.
§ 5.36 p.m.
§ LORD BARNBY
My Lords, anyone speaking at this point in a debate of this length and importance naturally finds that there is not much ground that has not already been traversed by previous speakers. As a matter of fact, at this point I might feel some apprehension, finding myself between two such eminent academic scholars as the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, and the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham. Indeed, I thought I might have to face some hazard of castigation. But my mind is at ease because, so far as my noble friend is concerned, he is always of a humane and indulgent mind, where it is merited. It is natural that most of us who speak in a debate of this character have some particular point which we want to emphasise for the consideration of the authorities. When the copy of Hansard containing yesterday's debate comes to be widely read, it will be enjoyed by an enormous number of people, just as noble Lords who listened 168 to the discussion in this House enjoyed it. Many important speeches were made.
The point which I intended to emphasise particularly is one which has met with the approval of several speakers, and the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, was the first speaker that I heard who questioned it. I refer to the policy announced by the Lord President as a decision, that the up-grading of technical colleges, as has already been wisely done in the case of Manchester and Glasgow, was to be extended. I am not dismayed by what my noble friend, Lord Chorley, said, because what I particularly have in mind was emphasised with great authority and clarity by my noble friend Lord Waverley, speaking with his great knowledge. My mind is at ease that the point that I want to emphasise has already been made. The noble Viscount, Lord Waverley, with his great authority and his experience as a Lord President of the Council, emphasised that this would be a good thing to do. What I aim to urge, therefore, has already been conceded.
Accordingly it comes to a question of special pleading. When this decision is implemented, I hope that among, the technical colleges to be so treated will be that of the City of Bradford. I say that because, as has already been said, contiguity with a university should be one of the essentials, and we all know that Leeds is quite close to Bradford. I think Lord Chorley has already emphasised the point that one great reason for this state of affairs is because the teaching faculty's status and emoluments are largely based upon the status of the institution. There is nothing novel about that; it has been emphasised in several of the debates we have had in this House on this point in the last six years. Therefore, in this particular special pleading I am only emphasising what others have said before. Manchester, as the centre of the great cotton textile industry, has been one place selected. Cotton is largely a dollar import. I feel that Bradford, the centre of the wool textile industry, since wool is a sterling raw material import should be given the highest consideration in whatever financial assistance is given under the proposals which the Lord President has announced. With regard to actual researches in this particular field, 169 mention has been made by the Lord President of synthetic textile fibres. Having been chairman for a great number of years of one of the research associations—the one which deals with the wool textile industry—I speak with some familiarity of the requirements of that industry. In a debate like this, one has the opportunity of the ear of the Lord President and of the Paymaster General, who is to follow.
Synthetic fibres have burst with very disquieting effect upon the whole field of textile production. There are many who have great concern about its status in future, in relation to animal or vegetable fibres, other than man-made fibres. I would emphasise the appeal which was made by the noble Viscount, Lord Waverley, that the Government should give to the textile industries the greatest facilities possible for the production of the supplementary fibres. We in this country are at a disadvantage with the United States because of the number of fibres there made available to the textile industries. Here they are limited to a very narrow range, to the viscose acetate and the nylon. The Lord President and the noble Viscount, Lord Waverley, both referred to this new dacron, as it is called in the States. It has great merit. It is there that one can see the advantage of funds and facilities being quickly given to increase the production of what may be available to this country.
In that connection, I would also urge that atmosphere control in these great textile industries, which can contribute so much to our balance of payments, is of great importance. The United States are far ahead of anything that we have here, or about which most of our industrialists have had occasion to think. We are under the fundamental disadvantage that only in few cases are the shells in which our machinery is contained suitable for atmosphere control in the same manner as new buildings which house machinery in the United States. It is in that field and in the utilisation of the fibre which plays such an important part that advance is needed. Whether by research on the one hand or the provision of facilities on the other, both of these are equally important. The noble Viscount, Lord Waverley, referred to the suggestion that the distribution of information and reports called for greater sympathy and action. He wisely suggested that the Federation 170 of British Industries might collaborate. I have no doubt they will, because the past record of the Federation, in its support in all matters connected with scientific research, has been as commendable as anybody could wish.
The noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, made a very good suggestion when he referred to the Norwegians' use of a contribution from football pools towards science. That brings up a memory from another place. Many times I have walked behind Horatio Bottomley in the Division Lobby when he was sugesting lotteries. Here is a ripe suggestion—anyhow, it brings in the question of taxation. I know that this is outside matters which should be referred to in this House, but let us bear in mind that in the United States all education and scientific institutions have the benefit of privileges in regard to taxation which are denied in this country. The noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, in the conclusion of his speech, urged that speed was essential in the matter of Government assistance. That surely is a fact, and he and I have the satisfaction of knowing that, in raising this debate in this House, with all the authority that it will receive throughout the country—because these reports will be widely read—he has done a great service to industry. If the Report of the debate goes as wide in its distribution as it should, then not only will the wise leaders of industry be more alerted to the position but those in the lower grades of industry will also be made more sympathetic to a scientific approach to the problems.
§ 5.48 p.m.
My Lords, the noble Lord who has just addressed us in such interesting fashion, and the other noble Lords who have made substantial contributions during the last two days, will, I know, forgive me if I do not conceive it as part of my task to comment on their efforts and addresses. I do not want to stand between the House and the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, very long. I feel that the hour has struck for the noble Lord: this is his apotheosis, and richly has he deserved it. When this new university is established he and the noble Lord, the Lord President, will perhaps be regarded as Castor and Pollux—the twin brothers of the enterprise—but perhaps they will be generous and allow at least 171 one representative from this side to be associated with them.
I was much touched—as I think all of us on this side were and, indeed, throughout the whole House—by what the noble Lord, Lord Woolton, said with regard to his illustrious predecessor so beloved in this House, the late Viscount Addison. Perhaps I may just amplify one or two of the remarks which fell from the noble Lord, Lord Woolton. He mentioned the remarkable work which Lord Addison had done for scientific research generally, and for the Medical Research Council in particular. He would agree, I think, that the noble Viscount, Lord Addison, is to be more associated in history with the Medical Research Council than any other single man. He would agree also, I think, that his own Department, the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, looks back to Lord Addison in the same way. I have been informed of a story which the noble Lord may know but which I think may please the House. When Lord Addison was hoping to initiate the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, I understand that he went to Mr. Lloyd George (as he was then) and unfolded the idea. Mr. Lloyd George, with that quick apprehension of his, saw the beauty of it but he said that, frankly, he knew absolutely nothing about that sort of thing. He said: "You had better go and see Haldane." So Lord Addison went to see Lord Haldane and again unfolded the idea. Lord Haldane at once asked him, "How much do you want?" Lord Addison said: "A hundred thousand pounds"—thinking, no doubt, he would be lucky to get £50,000. Lord Haldane said: "Give me that in writing." Lord Addison gave it him, and Lord Haldane simply added another nought—and that, I believe, is the origin of the £1,000,000 fund. I also wish to remind the House of the part that Lord Addison played in setting up the University Grants Committee. Again, more than any other single man he was responsible for that most successful enterprise.
Now may I just touch on one particular point—a solid point and one which has not been dealt with at any length in this debate? I refer to the supply of scientists for Government Departments. It is a subject to which I have ventured to allude once or twice in the past in connection 172 with the Royal Navy. Although I have not read fully what the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, said yesterday, I must say that if he said that the Navy were not listening to their scientists sufficiently I should venture rather vigorously to break a lance with him. If he did not say that, I apologise. The truth is that the Services are perfectly ready to listen to their scientists and the scientists are of excellent quality; but there are not enough of them. It is a problem which the defence Services and the Government generally have to overcome—this shortage of scientists.
The noble Lord, Lord Cherwell has been informed that I was going to raise this question and I hope that large numbers of Government scientists who will be reading his words to-morrow will obtain some consolation from them. I am told that what worries scientists most is the thought of the red tape that will surround them if they go into Government service. This red tape is a sort of non-Party commodity. The blue ribbon with which the noble Lord could have supplied them is equally unattractive to their creative minds. Perhaps the noble Lord will explain what the Government will say to alleviate the anxieties of these scientists in this matter, and also how he intends to set the minds of the scientists at rest.
My own suggestion, for what it is worth, is that the scientists should have much more opportunity than exists at present, in practice, of rising to the highest positions in the administrative Civil Service. I know that in the Department over which the noble Lord, Lord Woolton, presides with so much distinction there is a permanent head who is a scientist. But his Department is unique in that it has a special relationship to science. In the majority of executive Departments you do not find scientists in charge. If scientists of the best quality are to be obtained more easily for the Government, they should have the opportunity of rising to the top. On paper there does not exist much of a bar—they can move from place to place—but in practice that does not happen. Now that there are two redoubtable champions in the Cabinet, I hope that something will be done about it and said this afternoon.
It is not only a question of power and opportunity, and I am sure it is not mainly a question of money. There are issues of prestige involved. The whole 173 status of the scientific service would be altered in Whitehall if we hid quite a number of scientists in these positions—though, if I may say so with great respect to the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, I, for one, do not want to be dominated by scientists. But I feel that their whole status in the Civil Service would be more exalted if they saw numbers of their leading people becoming the permanent heads of important Departments. Scientists seem to be peculiarly susceptible on this question of prestige, and I do not blame them We have heard of various distinctions drawn between artists and scientists. These scientists are sensitive, shrinking creatures—though one would not always imagine it when listening to the light and confident tones of the noble Lord opposite. Scientists suffer from a persecution mania. I hope that this afternoon any last neurosis of that kind will be set at rest by the noble Lord's words.
This question cannot be answered so easily when we come to the matter of the technological university. I cannot speak for Oxford, of which University I am an unworthy but devoted son. But let me express a very strong personal opinion in favour of the university which the noble Lord, Lord Wootton, described yesterday afternoon. That is a personal view, but I hope that the noble Lord will allow me to offer it to-day. But I should like to say one or two words about this new college. When is a start going to be made? I quite understand that a great decision of this kind and all that flows from it cannot be settled in a night, and I am not complaining about that. I hope, however, that the noble Lord will give us now or very shortly some clear indication when a start is in fact going to be made. I appreciate what the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, said and what Lord Waverley said yesterday, to the effect that this is a magnificent conception and that there is bound to be a long interim period. But let us see to it that that period is as short as possible.
Who are going to go to this college? Will they simply be ladies or gentlemen who are deciding to go into a career in industry or applied science? Will they include others who are not necessarily going in for that kind of practical career—people who intend to teach or to take up one of the learned professions? Will there be graduates and undergraduates 174 working in this college? It seems to me you will not get a majority of the most brilliant scientists deciding, for instance, to go to this new college as undergraduates; but you might hope to see a high proportion of them going as graduates to complete their studies. Perhaps Lord Cherwell will explain what is in his mind on this matter.
What are the students going to learn at this college? I hesitate to put this rather naive question, but can the noble Lord tell us what a technologist is? I know that every other member of this House could rise at once and answer such a fatuous question with a flick of the wrist, so to speak; but I should like to be told what a technologist is. Could the noble Lord tell us the difference between a technician, a technologist and an applied scientist? Perhaps we could just have that explained to the ignoramuses, like myself. I do not ask that question merely to be tiresome, but for a very definite reason. Would the noble Lord agree with me in this respect: that one can draw a distinction between what might he called a general and a vocational education? When I say a "general education," I am aware that that may be used in two senses—either an all-round education or an education of the mind generally. Would the noble Lord agree that some forms of fundamental science, perhaps all forms of fundamental science, are a general education, while there is a certain form of technical education which does not deserve that description and is purely vocational?
In putting this question I do not wish to bring in the question of salesmanship, or suggest that there should be degrees in that direction. I mention that because there are studies which are valuable for business and commerce which do not, in fact, deserve a degree. Would the noble Lord explain quite definitely in what sense the studies in this college are of a general character? I take it that they will be studies in principles; that those who go there will learn by studying the principles, for the general use of their minds; that they will develop their minds by studies of that kind and that they will not be taught simply vocational devices or techniques which may be useful in some immediate, practical connection. They will have these studies, particularly in engineering. What else will they learn? 175 Will the noble Lord give us a rough idea whether, for instance, English will be taught at this new university? Will more English be taught there than is taught to the scientists in the ancient universities? And ancient history and modern languages—will those things be taught not just on "off" days, so to speak, but as a serious part of the curriculum? I assure the House that I am putting these questions without any reference to politics but simply as one who is very much interested in education. I feel the answers to my questions will interest the House. I hope, too, that they will be favourable; that we shall be told that technology is a study in principles, that those studying the particular subject of engineering will be given a broad education as well, and that that education will not be different from the education provided for honours students in arts in our universities.
I sympathise very much with the general thought behind the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Wavell. I agree entirely that there is too much specialisation in education at the present time. He will be incorrect if he tries to draw in on his side by way of support the Report of the Advisory Council. I do not agree that we want to increase the proportion of scientific effort in the universities at the expense of the effort devoted to the arts. I do not agree with him there. It is stated here in black and white in the Report of the Advisory Committee:We do not advocate any diminution in the importance of the humanities in our universities.
The noble Lord will forgive me for interrupting. I was not suggesting any reduction in the humanities. It is merely a matter of distribution. The professors in the humanities would be teaching three times as many people but over a shorter period. There must be some proportion—I gave one in three; it may be one in six—who would be better employed in science but who are now studying the arts.
Naturally, I accept the correction from the noble Earl, but I understood him to suggest a kind of one-way transference—it was going to be a movement from the arts to the sciences. I did not realise there was going to be any movement the other way 176 as well. The noble Earl will see that his words in Hansard might bear the construction I have placed upon them, but I gladly accept the correction. I agree with what fell from the noble Earl and many other speakers, that the effect of our education is to specialise at the present time. I agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, who at the end of his moving address told us thattechnology is not enough.He said before that [OFFICIAL REPORT. Vol. 177, Col. 45]:So all agree that what is necessary is a broadening of general education.I think the noble Viscount will agree that, neither in one direction nor in another must this be a one-way traffic. We want to broaden—I think this was in his mind, but it is not quite plain, if I may say so, from his remarks. Surely, all we want to do is to broaden the degree of the education both of the scientist and of the humanist. I think that that is right. I read his speech carefully and he refers to that point. I think he leaves a slightly different impression at the end, but I am in his hands. At any rate, we are together in that respect. I ask the Government in their own way (for at the present time they very largely control the education of the country), to consider seriously how this can be done. I do not think it can be done simply by tacking on some extra science courses to humanist education, nor simply by tacking on a little compulsory Latin to the scientific courses.
I do not agree with the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, in the view he takes that the scientist at the present time is usually a widely cultured gentleman. The noble Lord has perhaps the most all-round equipment in the House, if I may say so with respect, but there I think he is not entirely similar to all his fellows. I read an earlier speech of his in which on one occasion he said this [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 155, Col. 1073]:There is scarcely a scientist who does not know something about the works of Dante, Molière and Goethe.I have never met a scientist, excepting the noble Lord, who has confided his views on those people to my humble self. I am only putting my own statement of fact beside it. I think that very few of us know as much about Molière, Dante and Goethe as we should like to know. I 177 should not like to be cross-examined about any of them. I consider that the education of all of us is much too narrow, and I do not think any great advantage will be obtained by any of us claiming to be more widely or broadly equipped than any other section of the community. The whole trend of our education is to specialise—I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Wavell. I believe we have met this challenge of the age of science, as the noble Viscount called it yesterday, in the wrong way. By way of response to it we have produced two nations—a nation of scientists and a nation of non-scientists; and, speaking as a non-scientist, I very much regret my scientific deficiencies. There are a few gifted souls who are equipped in both ways, but they are very few indeed in any part of the community.
If, in the last few sentences, I had to indicate to your Lordships haw I think we should approach this problem, I would agree again with the noble Earl, Lord Wavell, that we must tackle it, in the first place, in the secondary and public schools, where, I am sure, there ought to be a much greater prolongation than exists at present of an all-round education. I should apply the same argument to the first year at a university, but I would not agree with the noble Earl, Lord Wavell, that at a university we should have a mixed degree. In the last two years you must allow the young man or the young woman to concentrate on some great subject. That is the best way of developing his or her powers to the full. I would agree that we must reduce specialisation, but in the first place I should try to carry out that policy in the secondary and public schools.
My Lords, I think we have all very much enjoyed this debate. We are all grateful to the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, for initiating it. I found very much that was most encouraging and stimulating in what the noble Lord, Lord Woolton, had to tell us yesterday afternoon. I hope that when the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, replies he will be able to throw some more positive light on the technological university, because in all seriousness, and whatever one says in moments of humour about scientists, and whatever scientists say about nonscientists in other equally friendly moments, the truth is that as a nation we 178 do not depend simply on producing a race of scientists (though we shall depend ever more on our scientific knowledge in the years ahead), but we depend upon producing a well-educated people. And I would say that a well-educated people must contain far less of a division than exists at the present time between the scientific and non-scientific elements of the community.
§ 6.12 p.m.
§ THE PAYMASTER GENERAL (LORD CHERWELL)
My Lords, I am sure that we have all listened with interest, and many of us with profit, to the many speeches which have been made. The noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, of course" made I think what we may call the keynote speech. I am always a little nervous when I have to speak after Lord Samuel, rather like the villagers who on an occasion said to a man of the same name:Comest thou peacefully?";to which the Prophet replied somewhat disconcertingly, his hands just having been soaked in the blood of a prisoner-of-war:I come in the name of the Lord.I am never quite sure what line Lord Samuel is going to take when he starts to speak. On the whole, I personally, and I think most noble Lords on these Benches, find nothing to cavil at in his speech.
There is just one thing which Lord Pakenham's speech has brought once more very much to my notice, and even at the risk of being accused of having a "persecution mania" I feel that. I must raise it again—I refer to this extraordinary belief of the arts people that the man who knows something about the arts and nothing about science is a man of great culture, and that it does not matter at all how little he knows of anything else; whereas the man who knows something about science and not so much about the arts is regarded as a mere specialist, the sort of man you would call in, like the plumber to mend a leak in the pipe, or something like that. I feel that that is absolutely wrong, and although I differ from the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, I maintain that the average scientist knows a great deal more about history and things like literature and philosophy than the average historian knows about science.
§ VISCOUNT SAMUEL
Why does the noble Lord cavil at my speech, when in the course of it I said—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 177, Col. 44]:The same is equally true, indeed, with regard to one who has been subjected solely to a classical education and is wholly ignorant of the world of science. He, too, has not been taught to 'see life steadily and see it whole.'
§ LORD CHERWELL
I am delighted to find that the noble Viscount agrees with me in what I am saying. No doubt he would also agree that it is no better to know about Caligula than to know about calories. On the other hand, it is just as important to know about the action of catalysts as the actions of Catiline. There are innumerable things of that sort which can be put forward. We are supposed to know about Claudius; but many arts men know nothing about Clausius Clapeyron's equation. Yet this can be found in the most elementary chapters of any book on thermodynamics. I do not wish to rehearse this equation to noble Lords, but I am quite ready to do so. I agree entirely with the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, and with the noble Lords, Lord Waverley and Lord Chorley, in decrying premature specialisation. I think that is one of the worst things that can happen. But I maintain that it happens much more in the arts than in science. I think it was the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, or perhaps it was Lord Waverley, who said that you ought not to give a degree in technology unless a man had spent some time on an arts course and passed some examination—
§ LORD CHERWELL
I am very ready to accept that, but I hope that the man who tries to get an arts degree will have spent some time on the study of science. I think we shall all be at one in that. I understand that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has invited a past Vice-Chancellor of Oxford to give lectures on Plato, so it appears that they at least are making some effort to acquaint themselves with the fundamental verities that Lord Samuel enjoys. I was sorry to hear Lord Waverley say that the technologist who has not studied arts was a pathetic figure. I think that an arts man who does not even know why the sky is blue or how electricity is made is a far more pathetic figure—
§ VISCOUNT WAVERLEY
The noble Lord is guilty of a slight misrepresentation. What I said was that there was no more pathetic figure than the badly educated specialist. I did not say "specialist in science"; I said "specialist."
§ LORD CHERWELL
Once more we are at one. I am glad that that point at any rate has been made perfectly clear.
My Lords, there have been so many speeches on so many topics that I hope noble Lords will forgive me if I get slightly confused in trying to answer them all. I cannot claim to be able to pick up all the various points raised in the twenty-two speeches from all parts of the House. At any rate, there has been general agreement on one thing—namely, the importance of technology. I believe that there has been no disagreement on that at all. The noble Lord, Lord Chorley, representing the Association of University Teachers, felt that perhaps the building up of a college predominantly dealing with technology was not the best way to deal with this shortage. I think I need not rehearse the argument at length over again. I have frequently put it as briefly as I can. The short answer is that you need so much paraphernalia to teach technology properly in the various branches (and of course I include textile technology, which I think is extremely important) that you cannot afford to do it unless you have 3,000 or 4,000 students, and you cannot have that number of technologists in each of a large number of universities. Therefore, if you say you are Going to teach it merely in the existing universities you will tend either to have too little apparatus or to be incredibly extravagant.
The noble Viscount, Lord Hall, made an interesting comparison between productivity in the United States and in the United Kingdom. As he pointed out, in the last fifty years productivity in the United States has gone up 3 per cent. a year, and in the United Kingdom about 1½ per cent. a year. That means that in the United States productivity doubles in twenty-three years and in this country in forty-six years, so that in forty-six years they will have four times and we only twice the productivity with which we started; and that accounts for the great 181 difference in our output. I agree that that is due largely to the fact that they have three times as many highly trained technologists as we have. But, to be fair, we must admit that they have better opportunities for keeping their machinery up to date, as is natural with their expanding population. Then again, they often work multiple shifts, which also means that their machines are more likely to be up to date than ours. Moreover—I do not know whether I dare mention this—they have private enterprise in a very pronounced degree. Perhaps I had better not say any more about that, because I saw some noble Lords opposite wince at the mention of it.
§ LORD CHERWELL
Yes, but it has been impinged upon rather severely by Socialism in the last ten or twenty years.
Then came the point about upgrading technical colleges. That is not at all easy because the activities of these technical colleges are so very diverse. Some of them give quite good teaching in various branches of engineering and, no doubt, in some forms of science. But they also teach all sorts of other things, such as sewing, cooking and folk-dancing. These are very admirable things to learn—although cannot claim that I myself ever studied any of them—and I believe that a great many people like them and want to be taught these things. Therefore, no doubt, the teaching of these subjects at the technical colleges fills a want. But I think everyone would agree that these subjects are not suitable for teaching in an institution of university status. Therefore, if we were to upgrade technical colleges it would mean that they would have to be separated into two branches, as Lord Chorley has said. I agree entirely with the noble Viscount, Lord Caldecote, that they would have to be taken out of the control of the local authorities and would have to earn their promotion. It is essential that they should be put under the control of the University Grants Committee; otherwise, they will never get the real status of universities. The noble Lord, Lord Stamp, made a number of very interesting suggestions which I have no doubt will be carefully studied.
§ LORD BARNBY
Perhaps the noble Lord will forgive my interrupting to ask 182 this question. Is it to be understood that the announcement made by the Lord President of the Council about implementing this plan carries with it the implication that the course which the noble, Lord has indicated will be followed?
§ LORD CHERWELL
I am corning to that in a moment. All these things will have to be studied. That is why the Lord President of the Council did not make any definite pronouncement. It is quite impossible, until these questions have been examined carefully and individually to say exactly what will be done. I think the right reverend Prelate put forward some interesting proposals. They were well thought out and sketched out, and his plan also will no doubt be studied. As I said, Lord Stamp was anxious lest the University Grants Committee should be over-burdened. If things develop as I should like to see them develop, and we get a large number of technological universities, that may be so. But in the first place we are going to start with one. I am very anxious that that should be under the University Grants Committee, in order to emphasise and make certain that it is regarded as an institution of university status, one which can give degrees and which has all the privileges of any other university. The noble Lord, Lord Webb-Johnson, in a speech with which, I may say, I agreed almost entirely, said that it is essential that this first technological university should have complete freedom, and should have all the same rights as any university from that point of view.
I am a little anxious, about trying to answer Lord Pakenham's detailed questions because, as I have said, if you give a charter to a university you do not tell the authorities exactly what they are to study and who is to go to that university. The way I would put lit is that the technological university would be similar in many ways to the Massachussetts Institute of Technology or the establishment at Charlottenburg or the Eidgenössiche Technische Hochshule in Zürich. That means to say there would be undergraduates—people who go straight from school—and, of course, graduates and research people; and they would study and learn the same sort of things that are taught in those well-known and well-established institutions.
§ VISCOUNT SAMUEL
Before the noble Lord passes from this matter may I put to him a question which, I submit, is of no small importance? Is it suggested that this technological institution with the status of a university should be a wholly new institution or a development of one of the existing institutions, or a combination of them?
§ LORD CHERWELL
Those are exactly the sort of points that are now being studied. It all depends on how the problem can best be tackled. It is a very complicated subject and there are many pros and cons relating to the various lines of approach. But I feel sure that some sort of way will be found of achieving what we want. Exactly how the problem is to be attacked is still at the moment very much under discussion. The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, asked what a technologist is. He is very much the same as an applied scientist; that is, a man who applies science (but really fundamental and thoroughly understood science) to the problems of production or distribution—not necessarily to those of exchange. I do not like to use that last word in this connection. Technically, you may say that everyone applies scientific knowledge in his daily life. The man who drops a letter in the post-box uses and applies his knowledge about gravity, for he knows that the letter will fall down inside the box.
In the same way, I might perhaps ask the noble Lord to define "an economist." The term does not mean a man who practices economy. We may say, I think, that a technologist is a highly trained scientist who applies his science to practical ends. Of course, he has to learn fundamental science and he has to learn a certain number of the ancillary subjects which include a knowledge of English—at any rate in this country—and a certain amount of economics, law and history. All these are necessary if he is to be a successful technologist. The noble Lord asked: "Is his mind to be trained?" I think that if the noble Lord had been trained to work out, say, the magnetic field of an anchor ring, he would realise that a good deal of training of the mind is required before you can do that. It is not the sort of thing that you can do by rule of thumb.
I think the noble Lord is doing me an injustice. He 184 has misunderstood me if he thinks I suggested that it was easy. I thought I made it plain that I did not think so at all. What I wanted to obtain from him was some sort of definition of a technologist and I think we are in process of obtaining it from him now. Am I right in saying that I gather a technologist is something nearer a fundamental scientist than a technician, or something halfway between the two?
§ LORD CHERWELL
A technician is the sort of man who works a lathe, cuts screw threads, or knows how to mend a motor car and so on. There is a very big difference between such a man and a technologist, and I think the noble Lord recognises it.
The next matter that comes to my mind is the question about nuclear energy. I must congratulate the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, on using the word "nuclear." I have pleaded for its use from the beginning. I dislike that dreadful phrase "atomic energy," which means nothing, because every time you digest a bit of bread you are using atomic energy. I am very glad to see that that term is being superseded, at any rate in this House. But really the question of using atomic energy—
§ LORD CHERWELL
It is terribly easy to fall into bad habits in bad company! I was going to say that the question of using nuclear energy has been before us for six or seven years, and it has always been considered from the point of using it for peaceful purposes. In the earliest days, wild prospects were held out and it was claimed that soon everyone would have energy to spare. But, of course, that has not come to pass. I think the noble Viscount will be pleased to learn that prospects really are improving. Nobody claims that nuclear energy will be cheaper than energy from coal. All it will be able to do, at any rate in the immediate, foreseeable future, will be to replace some of the ordinary fuel we use to-day. Obviously, the more expensive coal gets, the more attractive will nuclear energy become. In 1951, we used 35,000,000 tons of coal for making electricity, and in 1960 we reckon that we shall require 13,000,000 tons more. I do not say definitely that it will be so, but it may be that in about that period of time 185 people will seriously consider installing nuclear reactors when they are debating how to make their new power stations. It must be remembered, however, that nuclear reactors replace merely the boilers. You must have all the rest of your system, your steam engine, or whatever it may be—your dynamo and distribution network. The trouble about nuclear reactors is that their capital cost is high. In the ordinary pile such as we have already working, we can use less than 1 per cent. of the charge of uranium. One ton of uranium, if we could use the whole of it, would be equivalent to 2,000,000 or 3,000,000 tons of coal. If we use only, 1 per cent., it would take 100 tons of uranium to give us even a fraction of our coal consumption for electrical power—something like 5 per cent.—and uranium is by no means easy to come by. The whole world is being searched for uranium, and 100 tons is quite a notable amount.
When nuclear energy is used for producing bombs and for experimental purposes, you get heat as a by-product. Noble Lords no doubt have seen that some of the houses at Harwell are being warmed by heat generated in one of the piles there. It may be used for something else, like heating a market garden; but the immediate use of heat is circumscribed. In a few years we hope to test one of these piles made deliberately in order to produce energy, combined with a steam engine or something like that. It will not be very economical, but it will work. It will be interesting and we shall learn many lessons from it. But if we were condemned to use only 1 part in 137 of the uranium, then it would not be interesting from an economic viewpoint. But there is a hope of making what is called a breeder reactor. In these you use fast neutrons; you do not slow them down by using graphite or heavy water, but let them react directly with enriched uranium or plutonium. The reactor uses the same principle as the bomb; it is in fact a controlled bomb. Many neutrons, of course, escape; if you surround the reactor with either thorium, which is fairly common, or uranium 238 (the heavy isotope, which cannot normally be used) then the escaping neutrons produce in this blanket either an isotope of uranium of atomic weight 233 or plutonium. If you start with uranium 186 238, the escaping neutrons breed plutonium and this can be extracted and put into the middle to breed fresh material. And in this way you can go on getting power and breeding fresh fissile material as long as you have thorium or uranium 238 with which to surround the reactor proper. It may be that by this method we shall be able to use the whole of the uranium, or at any rate a very large proportion—60 per cent. or something like that.
That sort of project, of course, presents the most extraordinary novel technical difficulties. We are fortunate in having Sir Christopher Hinton, one of the best engineers in this country, and Sir John Cockcroft, one of our outstanding physicists, co-operating in designing such fast reactors, but it involves an enormous number of new problems, just the sort of problems which the professors in a technological university should be studying in the course of their work. There are a lot of metallurgical problems; many odd metals like beryllium or zirconium have to be produced and examined to see if they have suitable properties. We have to find methods of extracting light uranium and plutonium, which we hope we have more or less mastered. And we have the problem of heat transfer. If you have a collection of uranium rods producing all this heat, thousands of kilowatts of energy, it is none too easy to get the heat away from the surface of the metal. Probably some method of liquid metal coolant will have to be used for that. Heat transfer is just the sort of thing that would be studied in its own right in the technological university.
Then, of course, there is the operating technique to control such a system. As I have said, it would be a sort of controlled bomb so the technique must be fool-proof. We have to find ways of extracting from the blanket fissile material which has been bred in it. We have to find out the effect of the intense neutron bombardment on the structure used. It is certainly a long-term investigation, and it will require in the end considerable capital investment. But I am sure that it is well worth doing, and I think the prospects of success are considerable, perhaps within a reasonable number of years. There is also this to be said. There is a great advantage in making nuclear bombs in place of ordinary explosives in that, if you do not 187 use them as bombs, you can use the materials for these reactors. However much T.N.T. you may have, it cannot be used to drive an engine, and at the end of a war it usually has to be thrown into the sea.
My Lords, I hesitate to interrupt the noble Lord's interesting discourse. Once you have made the bombs, you cannot then use that material in them? You cannot scrap them again and re-use the material?
§ LORD CHERWELL
Oh yes, you can, perfectly easily. There would be no difficulty in beating our plutonium into power plants. There are limits to the availability of our uranium and thorium supplies. They are fairly rare. But if we can use the whole of the element then nuclear energy becomes a practicable proposition, because then, in principle, considerably less than 100 tons of uranium or thorium would suffice, if we really used it efficiently, to produce all the power we want.
Of course, one day, if we ever learn to make hydrogen coalesce into helium, then heat will be a drug on the market. One pint of water, if the hydrogen in it could be made to combine to form helium, would give heat equivalent to burning 10,000 tons of coal—and there are plenty of pints of water in the world. That would produce a really colossal change, but we are a very long way from doing it. This is the way the heat of the sun and the stars is generated. It is the conversion of hydrogen into helium that produces the heat of the sun. A great many people say that as we have in the sun a nuclear furnace at a convenient distance, well shielded, and stable, we ought to try to use that. I agree. It might well be worth doing a good deal of work on trying to convert solar radiation into power. At present, unfortunately, apparently the best way of doing this seems to be to grow potatoes, turn them into alcohol, and burn that. But this uses only something like 1 per cent. As I have said, all these things are a very long way off. But we have made great progress in the last thirteen years.
All these projects, if we are to make progress, require the highest skill in applied physics and technology. I therefore think that the present is a singularly 188 appropriate moment to discuss how we are going to teach technology, and how we are to get the large number of highly skilled and trained people who will be able to apply themselves to these problems, and, I hope, solve them. I think it is a great encouragement to the Government to see the favourable reception which their proposals have had in this House; and, if I may say so, it is certainly a personal delight to me.
Before the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, replies, would the noble Lord say something about the methods being pursued to attract more scientists to the Government service?
§ LORD CHERWELL
I beg the noble Lord's pardon. He did give me notice of those questions. He will not be surprised to hear that I have some very adequate replies, which I have no doubt he will allow me to read to him. In the first place, he asked about the method of recruitment through the Civil Service Commission: Is this a deterrent? I am advised that this may be so in a few cases but that individual Departments try to establish contact with universities, so that they may know what work is to be done and the type of man wanted. Students are encouraged to contact particular Departments direct, and they can elect for a particular Department if successful at the Civil Service Commission.
I do not want to interrupt the noble Lord unnecessarily, but I would point out that, while I intended to ask that question, I did not, in fact, ask it. However, the answer which the noble Lord has given is very acceptable.
§ LORD CHERWELL
I was paying so much attention to the noble Lord's speech that I forgot the question about which he had given me notice. I am now trying to make good the omission. The noble Lord's second question was: Does red tape keep scientists out of Government service? The answer is that some people may be deterred, because a Government scientist is inevitably less free in the choice of work, but general conditions in the Government service are claimed to be not bad, compared with those in industry. We try to give Government scientists freedom to publish unclassified work, and we also try to give universities the exact facts of conditions 189 in Government service to pass on to the students, so that they may know what they are in for.
The noble Lord asked two other questions. The first was: Would greater possibility of transfer to administrative posts make the Scientific Civil Service more attractive? As the noble Lord said, there is no formal bar to such transfers. I am told that in Departments with a strong scientific side transfers often happen. But many scientists do not want to do administrative work. I personally feel that it would be a good thing if they were all in one group together, because, whatever may be said, the administrative civil servant tends to look down on the scientist, and the scientist, being touchy, as the noble Lord said, does not like it. In industry he is looked upon somewhat more favourably. The final question I have here is: Could there not be freer movement between scientists in Government, industry and the universities? That again is a difficult question. I gather that there is already much movement. Many leave Government service for industry and, conversely, although their higher posts are normally filled by promotion, the Government also take many scientists from industry. We must remember that there can be great disadvantages in this system, because if men have been dealing with most secret matters in Government service it is undesirable that they should go off into industry, and possibly abroad, carrying all that knowledge with them. I personally am not anxious to encourage that particular sort of mobility.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT SAMUEL
My Lords, I think it will be generally agreed that we have had a most interesting debate. Seldom, if ever, has the House of Lords more fully maintained its reputation of being a reservoir of a great wealth of experience and practical knowledge than it has in the course of this debate. It has shown the highest technical qualifications in its own profession of Parliamentary discussion—a profession which, as we all are fully aware, is wholly unsalaried! The debate has been marked by two notable maiden speeches, one by the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, and the other by the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Coventry, and by the outstanding contribution, as we should expect from him, of the noble Viscount, 190 Lord Waverley. My noble friend Lord Stamp has made an interesting suggestion, which the Government spokesman has just said will be fully considered, that the time is approaching when it may be desirable to establish something in the nature of a co-ordinating technological council, which would include both representatives of industry and of labour, to give cohesion to the whole of this new system. I am sure my noble friend would not contemplate such a council interfering with the responsibility of these new institutions, or with their own initiative. Their staffs would he composed of men of the highest qualifications, who would no doubt be men of initiative and resource, and these institutions would be allowed to run on their own legs, to a great extent, and develop according to their own experience.
The debate has been made especially notable by the speeches from the Government Front Bench, particularly the comprehensive speech of the Lord President of the Council, culminating in an important new statement of Government policy, and further elucidated by the speech, to which we have just listened with intense interest, of the noble Lord, the Paymaster General. I am particularly grateful to him for having, with all his wealth of knowledge, gone into the question of nuclear energy. I remember that when this subject was first mooted in this House, now some years ago, I had occasion to cross swords with the noble Lord. I ventured to put forward the hope that within ten or twenty years from that time the use of nuclear energy for purposes of industry and the production of power would be a practical proposition. I do not think it would be going too far to say that the noble Lord at that time was very "sniffy"; his attitude was far more negative then than it is to-day. He says that in the last thirteen years we have made great progress, and he holds out the hope that perhaps within a generation—I forget the exact term—the use of this unlimited source of mechanical power might come within the range of practical realisation.
§ LORD CHERWELL
I hope that I did not give that impression. I did not suggest that the thermo-nuclear reaction turning hydrogen into helium would come within a generation to practical realisation.
§ VISCOUNT SAMUEL
I was not referring to hydrogen, but to the sources now being used. Of course, if hydrogen were used, then nuclear energy would be available for every country everywhere, irrespective of national resources in coal, oil or water supply. The statement of the Government to-day is a landmark in the advance of this subject of education of technologists. Our plea was that the Government should recognise that a most important means of increasing productivity in industry is to improve the facilities for higher technical education. Those very words which were the essence of our plea are included textually in the Government's new announcement, so that naturally those of us who have been pressing for this are delighted with this full and complete recognition of our case.
We welcome also the remainder of the statement of the Government, that there should be at least one institution of university rank, and that the Government are urgently exploring the practical possibilities as to the best way of doing this. Furthermore, they are proposing to upgrade and strengthen financially certain selected technical colleges and courses. For my own part, I would emphasise two expressions in that statement. The first is "at least one institution." I hope that has an implication that their intentions are by no means limited to a single example. I hope it means that in the course of time they will be able to find resources for several institutions, but that they are beginning with a pilot plant, so to speak, which they will have learned from past experience is the best way of initiating anything new. The other word which I welcome is the word "urgently" —that they are "urgently exploring the possibilities." We shall watch very carefully to see how far that urgency is carried into practice.
As to the other points brought out in the debate, I think there has been a general consensus of opinion that it is exceedingly important that in putting a great deal more emphasis upon technology we should not at the same time spoil the balance of our educational system. It is recognised that specialisation is a danger. My noble friend Lord Pakenham was rightly emphatic in pressing that point. The noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, however, fell upon Lord Waverley and myself with sword and spear, attacking us for exalting classical 192 education unduly. Our lives were spared only by my pointing out to him that, as a matter of fact, our idea and his were exactly the same, and that we both, whether we approached it from the side of the humanities or from the side of science, agree that a man is not fully educated unless he has a modicum of both.
Nothing has been said in the course of the debate, except in my opening speech, about the financial resources that are needed. Of course, this was not a debate either upon national finance or upon national defence and, therefore, it could be dealt with only incidentally. But I threw out the suggestion, as I did in the defence debate, that the whole of this situation would be changed if, while keeping fully to the dimensions of our armament programme, we felt that the world situation would allow us to proceed at a less headlong speed in rearming than was found necessary at the beginning. If the implementation of that programme could be spread out, even by an additional one or two years, that would be a great relief to the annual cost in manpower, materials and money. It is there that, from the standpoint of finance, we may find the means to provide those items in the programme which has been advanced during this debate. In any event, I hope that money will be found to avoid the proposed cuts in the grants for scientific research. Those cuts have caused great perturbation and regret, and the sooner they can be reconsidered the better it will be.
This statement of the Government will be studied with the greatest interest in three worlds which are to some extent distinct from one another, but which are all fully interested—the scientific world, the industrial world and the world of education. We shall await their reactions and their comments and criticism. But we in this House have the privilege and also the responsibility of being the first to express our opinions upon these proposals, and, as the noble Lord who has just spoken has said, his impression is—and I am sure it is a true impression—that the House as a whole very warmly welcomes the pronouncement of the Government. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.
§ House adjourned at five minutes before seven oclock.