HL Deb 27 February 1963 vol 247 cc86-182

2.55 p.m.

VISCOUNT HAILSHAM rose to move to resolve, That this House takes note of the Report of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy, 1961–62 (Cmnd. 1920) and the support by Her Majesty's Government of civil scientific and technological research and development. The noble and learned Viscount said: My Lords, I should like, first, to acknowledge the courtesy of noble Lords from the opposite Benches and, in particular, if he will permit me to do so, the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, for allowing me this year to put down the Motion in our annual debate on science, and thus, in some sense, to have the initiative in discussion. This is the only occasion during the year upon which I have the opportunity of speaking to either House of Parliament upon science as a whole, and I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving me the opportunity this year of doing so in this way. If I may say so, I intend to utilise my right of reply to answer particular points in the debate, but in opening I should like to make some general remarks.

I chose the Report of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy this year simply as a point of reference. It contains, as noble Lords will be aware, a number of extremely interesting topics upon which your Lordships may wish to dilate; and in particular we are fortunate in having among us this year the Chairman of the Council in the person of the noble Lord, Lord Todd, whom I hope we shall hear, with his own unrivalled authority, putting forward his own commentary upon the Report and dilating upon any subjects outside it that he feels inclined to do. However, so much has happened since the Report was published and since the year to which the Report refers that I feel that my own speech is inevitably going to be as much a postscript as a commentary. I hope, therefore, that this debate will be of the widest possible kind and that it will include the Report not only of the Advisory Council but of the four Research Councils and of the wide fields outside the area of the Advisory Council and the Research Councils, within the general ambit of science but outside the field of my own special responsibilities.

The other day the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, told me that I had the endearing quality of discovering the obvious which has already been known to many people for a long time. The circumstances of that debate were such that I was not sure that this was intended as an unqualified compliment. Nevertheless, I took it as a very great compliment indeed; because, in the increasingly neurotic and humourless Britain of which we are all unaccountably a part it is often only the truth which seems in need of publicity. Only the obvious is not news, and, therefore, it is the obvious which stands peculiarly in need of emphasis. What is even stranger, by a curious paradox, when the child, after examining the Emperor's clothes, or the want of them, finally blurts out the obvious truth, the mere utterance reverberates around society with quite unpredictable effect. Thus, the obvious sometimes comes into its own as headline news. So far as I am able, I am going to stick to the obvious this afternoon.

The first obvious truth that needs to be stated is that we all, in Britain and outside it, and particularly our great contempories, Russia and the United States, are in dire danger of forgetting what science is about; and in so forgetting there is a real danger that it may become perverted, lose its inspiration, get distorted in its balance or even become a positive curse. We are all becoming so mesmerised by dreams of military force and material economic wealth that I think we are a little apt to forget that science owes its origin to the free questing of the human spirit in its search to understand the environment of which we are all part. Science accordingly is part of culture and it is not primarily part of defence policy or economic policy. It is nothing short of the systematic thinking of the human mind applied to systematic observation and systematic measurement. There is a single corpus or spectrum of knowledge and speculation to which systematic thinking has given more or less coherent expression in a number of different spheres.

Of course there are vast fields of human thinking into which science and scientific thinking have scarcely penetrated, though it is, as I would say, the main, perhaps the only characteristic, contribution of the modern world to human thought. Political theory I would say was one of the spheres. But there is certainly no sphere, at any rate not politics, and not I think even religion or philosophy, to which science has not a significant contribution to make. Of course, scientific knowledge is no substitute for, and sometimes perhaps of little guide to, value judgments. The love of music, the joy in a beautiful landscape, painting, poetry and, within limits, ethics, metaphysics and religious experience are determined and qualified by standards of which many scientists happen to be good judges but of which they are not necessarily better judges because they are scientists.

The bearing of this on scientific policy is clearly that science is free because it is a branch of culture, and if not free it becomes false to itself. The spirit of emulation can properly exist in any questing of the human spirit. But chauvinism, narrow nationalism, competition for the sake of winning, keeping up with the Joneses for the sake of keeping up with the Joneses, is ultimately false to its genius, and equally corrupting and distorted is the narrow view which seeks to pursue it solely for military power, material wealth or national prestige. Indeed, what ultimately brings prestige is, I am convinced, what is scientifically right; and those who seek prestige for the sake of prestige and not for the sake of what is scientifically right will in the end fail in their objective. Human societies like our own may believe, and I certainly believe, that the national wealth and power will in large measure depend on the quality of our science. But unless they pursue it for its own sake as part of culture, and not for defence or even for what is called its technological "fallout", they will ultimately miss their objective.


My Lords—if I may interrupt the noble Viscount—I really think he is talking nonsense. Does he not know the work of Pasteur? If ever there was a person who was imbued with a feeling of hatred of the Germans and with patriotic fervour driving him forward in science, it was Pasteur. I do not think this is a valid argument at all; it is quite untrue.


My Lords, the noble Lord will no doubt be able to say so when he comes to his speech. We all have our prejudices. We are not necessarily better scientists for having them.

I realise, of course, that at the moment we suffer collectively from a national neurosis of pessimism and self-denigration. But the next obvious truth, and it is the second, I wish to utter is that by and large this has been a good year for British science. I realise, of course, that this will be unpalatable to the "chip on the shoulder" brigade and to those who think that the best way of advertising their wares is by lifting up their voices in lamentation. But it is true, and I will seek to prove it. At the moment I will cite only one piece of evidence. This year we won four Nobel Prizes, or if you count the temporary American emigrant among them, five—that is to say, the American who did the important work which won him his prize in this country. I believe that means we have won about twenty of the Nobel Prizes since the end of the war—better, I believe, than any other country except the United States of America.

I take a modest pride in the fact that all five were supported in their fundamental work by the Medical Research Council, for which I am responsible. I wish I could claim credit for it myself, since I shall certainly be given the blame for any shortcomings. But it must be given where it is due, and I am happy to attribute it to the far-sighted and prudent policy of the Medical Research Council over the years in supporting fundamental research, and the only credit I would claim is that I have helped to defend the scientific judgment of the Medical Research Council against external political pressures which have almost always been directed in favour of applied work.

However, to turn to the subject of emigrants, and passing to a subject which arrived too late to be included in the Report which is under discussion, I would thank the Royal Society for the extremely valuable paper they have prepared on this subject—all the more valuable, if they will allow me to say so, because it was prepared from sources available only to themselves and therefore not to me. I also think they were right, if I may add it, to publish the facts without comment, although some of the comment which has subsequently appeared seems to me to have missed two basic facts about the document, both obvious and therefore both sadly in need of emphasis.

The first is that the document itself shows only the debit side of the ledger. Even apart from the increasing number of British scientists whom we hope to reclaim from the United States, there is a credit side of the ledger, and I think we should remember it. A complimentary copy of the Royal Society Report was sent to me by the President of the Royal Society, Sir Howard Florey, one of the most eminent scientists in this country. He is, of course, an emigrant to this country from Australia. The Minister of Defence is advised by another Fellow of the Royal Society, Sir Solly Zuckerman, the Vice Chairman of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy. He is, of course, an emigrant from South Africa. At a dinner given the other day in honour of our four Nobel Prizewinners to whom I have already referred I had the honour to sit next but one to one of them, Dr. Perutz, an emigrant into this country, who very nobly expressed his gratitude to Britain for what Britain had done for him.

Seated at the same table were Fellows of the Royal Society of great eminence—some of them Nobel Prizewinners: Sir Hans Krebs, also one of our acquired assets; Professor Neuburger, and Professor Medawar who certainly is an emigrant into this country, from, I think, Brazil. Only the other day I read that that brilliant bird of passage, Professor Chain, another Fellow of the Royal Society, was coming back from Rome to Imperial College, London. I made some inquiries as to how many Fellows of the Royal Society, who are limited to British subjects or subjects of the Republic of Ireland, were emigrants to this country. I found that, out of a little more than 600 Fellows some 64 were emigrants into this country; and since they are limited in this way, of course this by no means covers the entire number of top-class scientists from other countries who are doing their work here more or less permanently.

I think it worthwhile adding that the Royal Society Report was drawn up and signed by Sir Gordon Sutherland, the eminent head of the National Physical Laboratory (for which also I am responsible), who, I must point out, on the criteria adopted by the Royal Society for the purpose of this Report, was a permanent emigrant from this country, since not so many years ago he held a distinguished scientific Chair in the United States University of Michigan. I think we must be a little careful, must we not, before we lift up our voices in lamentation or talk about a "brain drain", or imply that science in this country is a Cinderella, or dreary, or ill-supported, or used much as a pawn in the political game. If I thought all this was so, I should have hoped that the noble Lord, Lord Todd, and his advisers on the Advisory Council, and the Research Councils, would have told me so straight out. But they have not done so, either in the Report of the A.C.S.P. this year or in the much more comprehensive Annual Report which they did for me in 1960, at my request, when the whole question of balance and development was gone into. I think we really must hammer the prophets of gloom with the facts, and make it a contemptible thing once more to denigrate one's own country. This does not mean—quite the contrary—that I do not take the figures in the Royal Society Report seriously. Obviously, they are extremely serious and must be examined seriously.

That brings me to the next fact about it which, being obvious, is also in need of emphasis, and also, being obvious, highly charged. This is not simply a Report about emigration. In the main, these men and women (although they are nearly all, if not all, men) have not left the United Kingdom for Japan; they have not left the United Kingdom for Czechoslovakia, or the Sorbonne, or Milan, or South America. The balance of healthy two-way traffic (which, I may say, is highly desirable) can, as the summary itself points out, possibly be drawn with the Commonwealth; although we must, I think, accept our obligation to supply with teachers some of the less developed countries in the Commonwealth, all of which will go to swell the figures on the debit side. The unrequited balance really consists, if not exclusively at any rate mainly, of emigrants to the United States of America. There is no significant net emigration of scientists elsewhere beyond what is wanted, precisely because—and I challenge anyone to assert the contrary—there is nowhere outside this country, apart from the United States and, for reasons which I have described, the Commonwealth, whither the scientist would willingly or seriously wish to go, unless, of course he had Communist leadings—and even then, it takes more than one swallow to make a Pontecorvo or a Kapitza.

This, my Lords, is the clue to the whole matter, and this no doubt is the reason why it has scarcely been mentioned in the few comments which are made on the Report. We are, in fact, in the presence of something quite different from ordinary emigration, the two-way free trade in scientists (and in other first-class academic brains, though we are talking to-day about scientists), which is healthy and beneficial, and which I hope would become a permanent feature of our scientific life. We are in the presence of a fact which I will now attempt to state quite brutally. We are in the presence of a recruiting drive systematically and deliberately undertaken by American business, by American universities and, to a lesser extent, American Government agencies, often initiated by talent scouts specially sent over here to buy British brains and to pre-empt them for the service of the United States, a nation with nearly four times our population and nearly ten times—at any rate eight times—the national product of the United Kingdom.

I think one is entitled to ask: Why is it that that great country, with all its wealth, is unable to produce the scientists it needs for its own requirements out of its own system of education? I will tell your Lordships what I believe the answer to be. It is because, as we were reminded about six months ago by an American admiral, the American high school system is on a scale incapable of nourishing an adequate supply of scientists that is adequate for their nation's needs; and so inadequate that their university system (which is excellent, and in scale, though not in quality, superior to our own) and their research facilities, which, if I may say so, are quite unrivalled, together with American business, which is most technologically minded, and the American State service, are compelled to live—and I am compelled to use the word—parasitically on the brains of other nations in order to supply their own needs.

In a sense, of course, this is a compliment to British science, to our teachers, our universities, our researchers, our training; all in the main supported by British Government funds. If there were anything much wrong with any of these, you may be quite sure that the talent scouts would be prospecting elsewhere, and the jobs on offer would neither be so lucrative nor made so tempting. We are losing a proportion of our scientists precisely because they are so good and so desirable. Although at present the drain is largely towards America, which has the money and the facilities, and not towards less developed countries, which have not, we must accept that as our scientists get better, and as our scientists get more numerous (both of which will happen), we shall, in fact, lose more and more, not only to America but to other countries able to pay for their services. But the fact remains, without any disrespect to our American Allies, or to other competitors for our brains, that it is a compliment which in some ways I would rather do without. Although there is every excuse for less developed countries, there is really none for the United States of America.

I look forward earnestly to the day when some reform of the American system of school education enables them to produce enough scientists of their own, so that, in an amiable free trade of talent, there may be an adequate interchange between our country and theirs, and not a one-way traffic. In the meantime, we must do what we can to face the problem without complacency and without surrendering our fundamental freedoms. This is a free country and we cannot attempt, and must not attempt, to stop our scientists from going abroad. Moreover, scientists of all nations need to go abroad nowadays to acquire experience of many of the first-class facilities which often exist only in one place in the world—and, in particular, very often in the United States of America. None the less, we have to do what we can.

Clearly, first of all we must build up our universities to produce more scientists. This in itself would employ more teaching staff. We must provide as good research facilities in our national and private research laboratories as our national need requires, and generally we must educate our own industry, as well as the universities and colleges of advanced technology, to provide the careers for science graduates, already provided by the most forward-looking firms. I would hope also that university teachers, in discussing the matter with their younger men, would represent to them that while this is, and I trust will remain, a wholly free country they still owe some responsibility to the country of their birth, which freely educated them, sent them, mostly free of charge, to a university, provided them with awards to Ph.D. level, investing, I suppose, not much less than £20,000 capital in the education of each, in the hope, I suppose, that they would contribute to the well-being of our country, and not make up for the deficiencies of the American high school—to which, incidentally, they condemn their own offspring if they stay away too long. We must also make concerted efforts to bring back emigrants to responsible posts over here, and I think we can show some little success already in that direction.

However, I fear that for some years to come the problem will be with us. Indeed, as I ventured to say, the better our scientists become and the more numerous they become—and they do both—the more eagerly they will be sought after and the higher will be the price offered for their services. In this context we must neither get rattled nor lose our sense of humour and of proportion. The improvement of the American educational school plant is not so easy or politically attractive as buying talent from abroad; and, in any event, it is beyond my responsibility to prevent it. What we must do is to make Britain so exciting and attractive a country to live in during the remaining years of this century that our best young men and women, despite a legitimate desire to try their fortunes abroad, will, in the main, opt for the much greater adventure of adapting this country to 21st century living. If we want to do this one valuable first step would be to put an end to the constant depreciation of everything British that I hear daily all around us.

Despite the emigration figures, the Report of the Advisory Council contains heartening evidence of the progress of British science during the past six years. It is a pity that statistics refer mainly to sums of money, since money is a poor gauge of value in science—indeed, it is easier to waste public money on science than on almost any other subject. But I must quote some of the figures, glossing them as I do with the statement that, thanks to the devoted labours of the Research Councils, I believe we in this country get the best value in the world for our money. With this gloss, the Report makes heartening reading. Total national expenditure on research and development during the last complete year before I first took office as Lord President was about £300 million. The figure is now, in the year dealt with in the Report, more than twice as much: £634 million.

Of course, much of this money will not bring dividends at once, since one of the things one must expect is to build for the future—and often a future which one may not live to see. That kind of building is often the best, and in science, I should have thought, it is always better than the kind of emotional reaction which has no more sensible motivation than "keeping up with the Joneses" is in private life.

The figures I have quoted are all the more impressive because, viewed as a function of the gross national product, they represent a rise from 1.7 per cent. six years ago to 2.7 per cent. I should like to see the next target as 3 per cent., but we are still significantly short of that. I venture to say that in any other field of national action such growth rates would be regarded as phenomenal, and it is particularly gratifying that they have taken place in this field. If our national product itself were growing at anything like this rate we should have little to worry about. I also draw considerable comfort from the fact that, of these figures, the defence proportion has shrunk in the same period from 59 to 38, or nearly 39, per cent., and that the industrial budget (which is the one that in 1956 was the most in need of advance, from the practical viewpoint of providing wealth and work) has risen from £185 million to £367 million, of which the contribution of industry itself has risen from £68 million to £213 million. That shows that our various efforts to bring about the increase of technology in industry are bringing in some healthy fruit.

I do not wish to overburden this case with statistics, but I think it is necessary on this occasion to give some, in order to hit back at some of the critics of British science. I think that the Government are entitled to claim a modest and perhaps not inconsiderable share in all this. We have lived through three periods of financial stringency during the last six years. I myself, as I think said on a previous occasion, greatly deplore the misunderstanding with the universities which occurred after 1961. and which I hope we are beginning to put behind us. Both my Treasury colleagues and I have done anything that lay in our power to put that misunderstanding behind us. But I think it worth saying that expenditure on research by Government Departments has risen in the last three years alone from £39.4 million to £61.9 million; on research by the Research Councils from £13.1 million to £23 million; by universities from £23.3 million to £32.4 million, and by public corporations from £10.6 million to £21.4 million. Research in the universities supported by the Research Councils has multiplied by something like a factor of 3 since 1957, and the actual expenditure of the Research Councils has risen since 1959 from £23 million to £36 million.

I am not, of course, saying that all these bodies had all the money they wanted, but in each case I have been able to agree estimates which give rise to a healthy rate of growth, both with my colleagues and with the Research Councils, and in some heads there have been significant under-spendings of money provided by Parliament. I would also point out the healthy growth of "First" scientific degrees and diplomas. By 1965 we hope to be well up to our target of 20,000 new qualified scientists and engineers a year.

To turn, my Lords, from money to hardwear, and to work during the year, we have sent up our first Anglo-American satellite, the Ariel I; the second is scheduled for launching this summer; and we have decided to go forward with the construction of a third research satellite of our own manufacture. We have negotiated two major space conventions with Europe—namely, ELDO and ESRO. We have inaugurated at Manchester our first ATLAS computer. We have operated our first 1,000 megawatt conventional power station. We have authorised two new radiotelescopes for Professors Lovell and Ryle at Manchester and Cambridge. We have proceeded at Imperial College with the construction of the British national hydrogen bubble chamber. We have granted £800,000 to Oxford for an accelerator in the Keble triangle. We have decided to provide an electron laboratory for the National Institute of Nuclear Research, and have made provision for three more nuclear reactors for use in our universities. We have supported a joint oceanographic expedition to the Indian Ocean, and inaugurated the largest scientific lending library in Europe.

My Lords, I have already mentioned the work of the Nobel Prizewinners in molecular biology. In medical research I must also refer to the distinguished work in kidney grafting in various centres, which, despite widespread Press reports to the contrary, the Medical Research Council did not refuse to continue to support. I must mention the work showing the connection between irregularities in the chromosomes and certain congenital diseases, and work indicating the existence of one cancer-forming virus in human beings.

In agricultural research I do not think I should neglect the development by the Agricultural Research Council at Pirbright of the foot-and-mouth disease vaccine, which actually defeated the first invasion of Europe by the African virus, thereby conferring a benefit on the whole Continent—not, indeed, the only invasion of Europe which the Anglo-Saxons have helped to repel, but the latest if not the last. I think I should mention also the decision, which I mentioned earlier in reply to a Question, to construct a pilot plant for the removal of Strontium 90 from milk. In the nuclear field the new prototype advanced gas-cooled reactor has been successfully brought into operation and is now feeding the grid. We have approval now for the development of a prototype steam generating heavy water reactor, which may be the commercial reactor of the later 1970s. We hope to build a prototype fast reactor which, if it is successful, will markedly affect the entire economics of electricity generation by nuclear power. The experimental breeder reactor at Dounreay is already working at six times the power of any other fast breeder reactor experiment in the world, and is supplying power to the grid.

My Lords, I have scarcely spoken of a tenth of our activities, and I have said nothing of the valuable but less spectacular achievements of the Nature Conservancy. In the field of technology we have let two development contracts for machine tools, thereby breaking new ground. Two others will be concluded shortly and others are under negotiation. The bigger contracts for the supersonic aircraft and the nuclear ship, the defence work on the vertical take-off aircraft and nuclear submarines, and the first two nuclear power stations at Berkeley and Bradwell which came into operation during the year in question are outside my field, although they are of course matters in which I have a considerable and direct interest. It is worth remarking that the two Magnox stations at Wylfa and Hinckley Point will be the world's first 1,000 megawatt nuclear power stations. My Lords, I mention these things not out of vain glory, but because it is essential to emphasise that these are not the achievements of a weak, negative, second-class, inferior or morally defeated nation; nor of a science and technology starved of resources and unable to achieve adequate manpower. It is only in the context of these achievements that I am prepared to discuss our shortcomings, or the immense task of technological development which lies ahead.

My Lords, at the expense of burdening an already lengthy speech, I feel I must reply to criticisms about the choice of reactor systems for the nuclear merchant ship. These criticisms came from relatively responsible quarters, and from one wildly irresponsible quarter. About Captain Atkins, who for some reason was put on the television the other night, I need say little, except that I know of no qualifications he possesses technically to think that his technical judgment can be compared with those at the disposal of the Government, including such acknowledged experts in their own fields as Sir William Cook and Professor Diamond. I must, however, repudiate as a matter of fact the irresponsible and reckless statement which he made, and which he is alleged to have persisted in after he had been told it was false, in the "Panorama" programme, when he said that it was, or implied that it was, Sir Roger Makins who procured his dismissal. No evidence was produced for this outrageous untruth, except that a conversation initiated by Vickers took place at which Vickers apologised for their employee's wild assertions and said that those assertions did not represent the opinion of the Company. In fact, Sir Roger tells me that he had no notion that it was the intention of the firm to dismiss Captain Atkins until it was publicly announced. Captain Atkins is, at least in my opinion, strongly to be condemned for this assertion, and I would have thought that he should either substantiate it with evidence or withdraw it unreservedly.

My Lords, I now turn to the technical merits of the case. Here again I can only refer to some of the statements which have been made as irresponsible, since most of the facts have always been available. It has been suggested, for instance, that the Atomic Energy Authority was "railroaded" by the Government into making a premature and unscientific decision. My Lords, this is approximately the reverse of the truth. The Government have always been interested in the possibilities of nuclear propulsion for ships, but all proposals have been passed through a technical assessment procedure, which I will go on to describe. In fact, the decision to proceed with the Vulcain and the integral boiling reactor was not arrived at until the assessment had been completed, and until we had the benefit of expert technical advice.

The work of assessment was undertaken in the first place by a working group under the chairmanship of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transport, and with representatives of the General Council of British Shipping, of Lloyd's, of the British Ship Research Association, of the Admiralty, of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, of my own office, and of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority. This group has been advised on the technical aspects of marine reactor research by a panel under the chairmanship of Professor Diamond, who is, as your Lordships will be aware, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Manchester University, and he was also a member of the main working group. This panel contained the representatives which I have mentioned.

I have ascertained—and I am sure that this is important in judging our confidence in the panel—that it comprised not only nuclear physicists, but also nuclear and marine engineers. So that we can be sure that the experts were able to assess not only which reactor system was the best theoretically, but also which held out the prospect of being most practicable from the point of view of installation, maintenance, seaworthiness and safety in operation. It is, of course, quite understandable that firms whose reactors have not been chosen by the body of experts should harbour disappointment. But I cannot think of any better way in which technical and economic advice in a matter like this can be obtained, and I find it difficult to believe that our procedure would have been criticised in the same way if a reactor designed by one or more of the unsuccessful firms had been chosen.

My Lords, in view of the criticism which has been levelled at the choice of reactors, I have taken great care to inform myself fully. I can assure the House that, at any rate in my opinion, as regards economics, safety and development potential the two reactors chosen for further development—that is the integral boiling reactor and the Belgian-designed Vulcain—are the most promising. This came as no surprise to me. More than a year ago I visited the Atomic Energy Establishment at Risley, to hold discussions on the reactor research programme, and we then went into the various designs which were current for marine reactors. We discussed at length all the systems which have been the subject of recent controversy, and my firm impression at the time was that the two systems subsequently chosen appeared the best.

My Lords, there are a number of fundamental inquiries now in hand. These, of course, will alter the future course of science and education. I refer, among others, to that presided over by Lord Robbins, on Further Education; that of Sir Burke Trend on Government Organisation for Civil Scientific Research; that of Sir William Slater on research into Natural Resources; and the Royal Society Report on Biology, commissioned with my approval by the Advisory Council and published as an annex to their present Report with most valuable comments of the Council's own. In addition, I must add a most important inquiry on engineering design which I commissioned through the D.S.I.R., of which Mr. Fender), Fellow of the Royal Society, is chairman, and the report on which I hope will be published this summer.

My Lords, regarding the Royal Society Report on Biology, I entirely accept the main conclusion that the time has come for a great step forward in biological studies; but I thought, rather on the grounds indicated by the Advisory Council, that the Royal Society had perhaps missed the real organisational limitations on the rate of growth of biological studies which are rooted in the universities rather than the Research Councils, although I have asked each Research Council to take this Report into account and to do what they can in the light of it. The more fundamental issues of organisation and finance will be for the inquiries I have mentioned and for negotiation between the universities and the University Grants Committee, and the University Grants Committee and the Government.

I was particularly glad that the Advisory Council began their Report by dealing with the vital question of international organisation in science. This has been developing in importance in recent years in such activities as the International Geophysical Year; the coming Quiet Sun Year; oceanography and seismology, and in the earth sciences generally; in European and Anglo-American co-operation in space research, and in nuclear and high energy physics; and in numerous international conferences, one of which, the Pugwash session in London, I had the honour to open.

On this vital question I wish only to add one footnote at the present stage. In various fields of fundamental work in high energy and nuclear physics, for example, the equipment is becoming so expensive and is developing into such short-lived machines (ten or fifteen years, sometimes, at the most if its value as a first-class research tool is to be considered), that its provision, if the study of the elementary particles is to continue at the present pace, is of necessity an international matter. We have already co-operated in the Organisation for European Nuclear Research, CERN, at Geneva. But the new generation of machines will be so enormous—certainly of 100 GeV, and it may be of 300 GeV, and even more—as to make effective construction and use even by consortia of nations next to impossible. Sooner or later I should like to see a world machine contributed to by the scientists and technologists of all nations, including, if possible, the Russians, which would form a focus for nuclear physics of the entire world. It would at least be as sensible as going to the moon, and much more sensible than devising the sophisticated and satanic weapons of the nuclear arms race. It would be something which might contribute to the status of science as an instrument of international culture and understanding.

My Lords, I conclude with one final point—not, I hope, inappropriate during National Productivity Year. It is a plea to the young. It is a plea to schools, universities, technical colleges and, above all, to industry; and it is a plea also to the professional institutions. It is a plea for a concerted effort on the part of these separate units—and, of course, the Government as well—to raise the level of technology to the level of what is best in our science. Above all, let us increase the numbers, the standards and the status of the profession of engineering. If the scientists are the intellectuals, the engineers are the artists, and even the craftsmen, of the scientific world. If the scientists are the discoverers of truth, the engineers are the creators of new wealth and even the makers of the instruments of discovery. A few weeks ago I saw some rather striking statistics which showed that too low a proportion of our first-class brains, in comparison with those of other European countries and perhaps America, were going into technology as distinct from pure science. Let us raise the status and prestige of the designer in our midst. There is no surer way of improving productivity than by the improvement of design—and by "design" I do not mean simply styling and colouring; I mean the fundamental quality of clarity of thought translated into engineering structures, whether as small as a penknife or as large as a nuclear power station. In the work of constructing the Britain of the 21st century, to which I referred last week, the engineer and the designer, as well as the scientist, have an indispensable part to play. if we want to get on with the job, my Lords, it is they who must furnish us with the tools.

My Lords, I beg to move.

Moved to resolve, That this House takes note of the Report of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy, 1961–62 (Cmnd. 1920) and the support by Her Majesty's Government of civil scientific and technological research and development.—(Viscount Hailsham.)

3.47 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure your Lordships will not quarrel with our agreement on this side of the House to allow the noble Viscount his opening fling—and it really was rather a fling. There was, as is always the case in the noble Viscount's speeches, much with which we could all agree, a good deal that was extremely stimulating, and some that I really found extremely difficult to swallow. I shall not follow the noble Viscount in all his flights into philosophy and science. There were certain of his phrases which I liked: the fact that truth is in need of publicity —and this is something which the Government would certainly do well to bear in mind.


I am doing my best.


I am sure the noble Viscount is. As to his observations on the meaning of science and its rôle, and his use of the word "culture" —we are now back to one culture again—there is one culture, I am sure, which mixes with tremendous turbulence in the noble Viscount's mind, and he is not bothered by the real divisions in thinking that exist. It is extremely difficult for us to think about science. Science may operate in the laboratory, but it does not exist in the laboratory. It does exist in life, and, in my view, and in the view of many scientists, it needs to be geared more deliberately and more specifically into our national affairs.

My Lords, we have to arrive at judgments at some stage as to how we are doing as a country. The noble Viscount very graciously said that he was not in a position to alter the American high school education system. I thought he was a little patronising about the Americans—


I am half American; that is why.


That makes it very much easier. But then the noble Viscount is guilty, I think, of that offence of which he so often accuses people—denigration; and particularly denigration of his own side. Because we may have criticisms, that does not mean that there is a general denigration. It does not mean that we think we are a weak, second-class, inadequate nation. There is surely a halfway point between those views. And here may I just correct the noble Viscount on one point. He coupled the names of Pontecorvo and Kapitza. If I remember rightly, Kapitza was not a voluntary emigré to the Soviet Union and I think the record should be put straight.


My Lords, I will accept that, and I thank the noble Lord for pointing it out.


I should like to turn straight away to one point with which the noble Viscount dealt—the export of scientists. I took some notes as he was speaking and I thought he said that the Royal Society would not attempt to arrive at any value judgment or judgment on what was happening.


My Lords, what I said was that the Royal Society made no comment and said at the end of their summary that they would make no comment. The "value judgment" passage was related to general observations about science. They said they had no further comment. I was referring simply to the passage in their Report.


My Lords, let me quote the comment of the Royal Society. It seems to me to be quite a considerable comment. Quite apart from the potential benefit to this country which has been lost by the emigration of scientists on the scale of the last ten years it must also be recognised that this country has spent considerable sums in educating scientists who are now working in the United States and other countries. We have not been able to arrive at a reliable figure for the cost of educating these scientists …"— at least about £20,000 apiece. In fact, since they were rather senior it could be rather more. They go on: We regard as much more serious the economic consequences of the loss to this country of the leadership and the creative contribution to science and technology which they would have made in the course of their working life. This seems to me to be quite a comment.

The noble Viscount spoke liberally and happily about a free two-way traffic in scientists. Let me remind him of what the Royal Society said. They said: Since it has not been possible for us to obtain figures on the permanent immigration of scientists and engineers into the United Kingdom, all the figures in this Report represent gross losses. The emigration to Commonwealth countries may well be balanced by immigration from the Commonwealth. Gross emigration to the United States, however, must be recognised really as a net loss, for it is clear that permanent immigration to this country from the United States is negligible.


My Lords, that is what I said.

LORD SHACKLETON Then, all I can say is that to say that the Royal Society made no comment seems to me to be a rather curious way of writing off a revelation of a pretty serious situation.


My Lords, it is exactly what I said. I did not write anything off.


My Lords, the Viscount gave an impression. We shall see to-morrow what he did say. It seems to me that what is serious is the high proportion of high-quality scientists involved. It is quite absurd to suggest that the need for these high-quality scientists is the result of a failure in the American educational system. The fact is that they are a wealthier nation. They have more resources and are prepared, like any large firm, to go out and buy the brains. I would not suggest that the noble Viscount is not himself concerned with this matter. He said he would rather it did not happen. I do not know what the short-term answer is. I entirely agree with the noble Viscount that we do not wish to put any restraint on these men and I am a little nervous even of the suggestion that we should appeal to their patriotism, because it is desirable that young scientists should go abroad for a period. Certainly we are fully agreed with the noble Viscount that there must be export of scientists to the Commonwealth and undeveloped countries. But it comes down to the success of the economic policy of whatever Government may be in power; the extent to which the resources are available and also the extent to which the right priorities are established in allocating those resources. Figures have been given of the emigration of Ph.D's—10 per cent. or 12 per cent. But this is only part of the story. The noble Viscount would agree that there is also the export of people who have not got their Ph.D.—Doctors of Science, just qualified engineers and university staff—and we know that there are many things to take them to these jobs; but mainly it is because of the opportunities for research.

I know of a case which occurred quite recently. A distinguished scientist was offered a professional chair in a British university which he was prepared to accept providing that there would be some funds available to enable him to continue in some degree the research he was doing in a previous post in Government business. These funds were not available. The university was not able to make them available. The funds are not being made available to the universities or generally for research. It is not enough to refer to the disagreement or fury of the universities in regard to this matter as "that misunderstanding in 1961." There was no misunderstanding on the part of the universities, and I know this is a matter about which the noble Viscount himself feels strongly and in other circumstances would speak much more freely than he can today. But it is while we are failing to achieve the economic progress that we should, and failing to make the right priorities in regard to this matter, that we shall sec this continuous drain of some of our best brains.

Luckily, quite a lot of the wives do not like living in America, so we can claw some back. The efforts of certain Government bodies, particularly the Committee over there, is also able to bring others back. But some do not come back, simply because there are no jobs available. Keen as we may be to see a surplus of scientists and see them moving into teaching and into the general public and administrators, the fact that there would be able scientists capable of holding important jobs who are unable to find those jobs shows there is nothing like enough resources being devoted to this. I say this not in any way to minimise what I acknowledge to be very real progress in a number of fields, for we should be grateful to the noble Viscount for his success in wheedling some important concessions from the Government.

The noble Viscount also referred to the increase in expenditure on research. It is true that the figure has doubled in the last seven or eight years. The noble Viscount suggests that if our national productivity could be advanced at the same rate he would be very happy. So should we on this side. There are other steps to be taken to increase our national productivity and it may be that in due course the electorate will take those steps. What I am concerned about is that the percentage of Government funds going into research as part of the total bill appears to be declining. It may be wrong to regard this as significant; but I would ask that when the noble Viscount comes to reply he should expand that a little more. At the same time we should certainly welcome (and the proportion may be coming more nearly right) a considerable increase in expenditure on research and development by private industry as well as by publicly-owned industry. This is something for which we can be grateful, and it is worthy of note that we receive some not inconsiderable sums from the United States for research. It is a factor which I think is not appreciated. We are not a net exporter of research funds; in certain respects, we are importers; and this figure is quite a considerable one.

This brings me to the position of the research associations. The noble Viscount knows all too well that representations have been made to him by the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee. I do not know how confidential is the correspondence that has taken place, but I think that he will not accuse me of revealing secrets if I say that there has been some disagreement about whether the Government are making a large enough contribution. There is no doubt—and nobody knows this better than the noble Viscount—that the position of the research associations is not clear. They are different in nature and have different needs, and the figure that should be made available depends to some extent on a rule-of-thumb approach. I would urge the noble Viscount, despite all the reason he has been able to bring to bear, that there is need for a greater expenditure by the Government in support of the research associations.

We do not want industry to shuffle off its responsibilities, but if the research associations are to develop, and the money is not forthcoming in sufficient amounts from industry, then I would urge that the Government do rather more. We must bear in mind that there are certain research associations, including some of the newer ones (I know that the noble Viscount is inclined to give more support to the newer ones), which are not directly concerned with the development of products and inventions which are likely directly to bring a return to the firms concerned. A body like the British Industrial Biological Research Association, which is concerned with testing and with a wide field of researches in toxicology and other questions of general public value, is extremely important. I would urge that there should be more recognition by the Government of the fact that in such cases as this they should carry a larger responsibility than industry. I would not disagree with the noble Viscount that industry must play its part, and I agree with him in not wanting to "feather-bed" them.

I should like to turn now to the Report of the Advisory Council. I am coming to think that, as a review, a progress report, this White Paper is not by itself adequate for the purpose, and it is perhaps a good thing we had the speech of the noble Viscount to fill in the picture. I admit that the Paper is rather longer than the Government's Paper on Defence—certainly more than 200 words—and contains a great deal more thought, if I may say so, and a great deal more decision. Without wishing to criticise individuals, and in particular the noble Lord, Lord Todd, to whom we should be extremely grateful for taking the chair of the Advisory Council, the fact is that a number of busy and distinguished scientists, meeting half a dozen or more times a year, are not really in a position to give the sort of review that we need.

Whether the Government and the noble Viscount himself should undertake this, or whether additional support should be given to the Advisory Council—and, indeed, some additional staff, so that they can discharge this duty—I cannot say. But it would help us in examining these figures—for instance, if we look at the scientific graduates who have been trained in the past year—if there had been more explanation and they were related to the general trend. But we had to wait for the noble Viscount to say that we are well on the way towards the 12,000 science graduates in the year 1965. So I would ask the noble Viscount if he would give careful thought to this point.

This Report is in marked contrast to the admirable Reports of bodies like the Medical Research Council and the Nature Conservancy, where there is a great deal, not only of careful thinking, but of excellent writing as well. What I am asking for is the equivalent in regard to science of what used to be the Defence White Paper. The Committee looked at a number of particular matters which the noble Viscount had asked them to consider—in particular, international co-operation. They use a phrase, which has very much the Hailsham ring about it: It must not be supposed that international co-operation is a substitute for national excellence. This is certainly a ringing phrase. I would hope that no one would take the view mentioned, and that no one would go rushing off purely after international co-operation without regard to its scientific value. At the same time, it is clear—and this was apparent in the noble Viscount's own speech, especially when he was talking about the new machine for CERN—that there must be increasing international co-operation.

The fact that there is a multiplicity of instruments cannot be avoided, unfortunately, and I hope that the rather cool sort of reference by the Council will not discourage the Government from playing the part they should. Frankly, I am encouraged by what the noble Viscount said with regard to the machine for CERN, if it is to achieve 300 or 400 GeV (which I think stands for gigae electron volts), and it was satisfactory to be able to point out to a scientist that gigae were presumably larger than megas, and its derivation then becomes apparent. If this is to be achieved, then the Government—and, I would urge, the noble Viscount himself—must give a lead, because it is of importance to this country and to the whole world as well.

I do not think that the noble Viscount said anything about a conference which goes by the curious initials of UNCSAT. I will not attempt to give the words for which these letters stand, all the more so because we know that the noble Lord, Lord Casey, who is to speak later, is himself a member of UNCSAT. I would only ask that whatever he may say about what has come out of this apparently confused but very important conference will be heeded by the Government, because this organisation is concerned with initiating questions of international research and development, particularly in relation to the under-developed areas, which is clearly something on which there is need for more co-operation.


My Lords, I beg the noble Lord to let us know what these initials stand for, because otherwise we are at sea.


My Lords, the U.N. part is easy—it stands for the United Nations. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Casey, would care to tell us right away.


My Lords, it is an abbreviation of the initial letters, a cutting down of the rather long formal description of the conference—the United Nations Conference for the Application of Science and Technology for the Benefit of less developed areas. They picked out six of the capital letters and made them into this very uneuphonious word.


It is really "UNSCAT."


It is not UNSCAT it is UNCSAT—and there appears to be the "B" missing. But let me leave UNSCAT for a moment, and turn to certain other aspects of international co-operation.

I think the noble Viscount was attracted by the phrase the "Year of the Quiet Sun." It should be of course, the Years of the Quiet Sun, because this will be a period of relatively peaceful solar activity and will be a successor to the International Geophysical Year which was such an extremely successful example of international co-operation. I should like to urge support for one particular activity which is the international biological programme. One of the criticisms I think we can make of present tendencies in science is the tendency to concentrate on certain rather more striking fields—the tendency to concentrate, for instance, on cells research. Some of the older forms of science may be overlooked.

I should like to ask the noble Viscount to bear in mind (he accepts this, I think) that the biological sciences are trailing behind the physical sciences, and this is particularly true of that part of biological science which is concerned with the whole plant or animal in its environment, rather than with the cells or organs of which the organism is composed. The future health and happiness of mankind and of the world, with this enormous explosive increase in population, will depend not so much on physical sciences or space research—although we do not know what space research will produce—as on the biological productivity of the soil and water of this earth. I will not go into this in any detail but it is something again on which I hope we shall have the support of the Government: because until we have a better understanding of biological productivity we shall not be capable of solving our problems in the most sensible way. We shall have to use short cuts, and we shall be using more and more pesticides and less and less fundamental solutions to our problems. There is a strong case for making the international biological programme a real success, and I hope that the Government will play their part in this.

There is one other aspect of international co-operation to which I should like to refer, and that is the problem of admitting East German scientists. This may not seem to some of your Lordships to be a very important matter, and it may seem to be a legitimate thing that one should retaliate for the monstrosity of the Berlin Wall by imposing certain bans on East German scientists. But the fabric of international scientific co-operation is such a delicate and important one that I would urge the noble Viscount to see whether we cannot get over this problem. The fact remains that the international unions of scientists (this matter was raised by them) feel strongly about this. There is, for example, to be a congress in London this year of the international unions for pure and applied chemistry. If the NATO countries continue to reject East German scientists—they do not reject Russian scientists, who, it might be argued, may be equally responsible for the Berlin Wall—it will mean that we are doing real damage in a field where the cold war is not operating. There is international co-operation among scientists. It may even compel the organisers of these conferences to place their location in non-NATO countries simply so that this obstacle may be removed. This is something about which the scientific community feel strongly: from their point of view it is not a matter of Party politics or of international politics. I would urge the noble Viscount to look at this point. There is the question of the Berlin ensemble, but that is another matter, although of the same order.

The most important part of the Annual Report of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy is concerned with biology. I am glad that the A.C.S.P. have made some sort of an ainende for earlier errors in regard to the importance of biology. They now recognise (I do not blame any members individually for what have been one or two slips in the past) that the biological sciences have tended to fall behind; that the facilities are inadequate, and the need has ben underestimated. The solution will not be achieved by just referring it to Research Councils and other bodies; it will be achieved by Government support.

The universities, we know, are up against it in regard to space and in regard to equipment; and if they are blamed for their own failure to push the biological side along, it is due to some extent to the fact that some people have given up asking. They feel that they have asked so often (I know of actual cases) for resources and funds, that they have given up hope. There is little doubt that more money will have to be provided. It will not be enough just to say, as is suggested, that the universities should provide it. They are up against the quinquennium, and they up against the fact that inadequate funds have ben made available to them. My noble friend Lord Taylor will undoubtedly be dealing with this aspect, but if we are to carry out the recommendations of the Royal Society's Report, and those parts of it which have broadly been endorsed, and in certain aspects endorsed in detail, by the Advisory Council, more money is going to be necessary. The economic, national and international importance is really tremendous. This is not only a field of very long-term pure research. The possibilities which are mentioned, whether or controlling the growth of organs, of transplantation, to which the noble Viscount referred, possibly of turning fishing into a farming operation, and many other activities—may all come from this.

There is one particular aspect of their recommendations with which I would ask the noble Viscount to deal to-day. These are the important recommendations with regard to micro-biological studies. I am told that it is possible to make perfectly good food from paraffin wax. We shall produce in our oil refineries—and may be already producing—a protein of a fishlike quality which will be cheap and edible. I am told that it is possible to concentrate metals. I am even told that there are microbes that will generate electricity for us. The possibility of using microbes instead of chemical synthesis seems to have caught the imagination of a number of people, including at least one particular Government establishment in this country which has been working on this fundamental question of nitrogen fixation and the possibility of being able gradually to move from the present method of creating artificial manures into one in which the microbes will do the work for us. The list is endless, and it is something which I should have thought had I not been told it by reputable scientists, was invented for a science fiction story. Clearly, increased money has to be made available for this. The Americans are showing more initiative than we are, although there are certain industrial companies—notably some of the oil companies—who are working in this field.

There is one particular proposal which I would ask the noble Viscount to consider and perhaps give us a view upon to-day, and that is the proposal that in this field the Defence establishment at Porten should be made into a National Institute of Microbiology. To many of us the name Porten in the past has been a name almost of ill omen, but I understand that the work they have been doing there is of a first-class nature and of fundamental importance. We have before us a recommendation that it should be made into a National Institute of Microbiology.

It is apparent that physics are no longer to be the only white hope of the new British industrial revolution. In fact, it has been suggested that the next stage of industrial development will be a microbiological one. I cannot speak on this subject, but it is quite clear—and this is a point which I think the noble Lord, Lord Todd, or certainly the noble Lord, Lord Fleck, has dealt with—that we need to strengthen the effort to cross the boundaries of the established schools and specialisations. If we are to get civil research, space research, ecology, or whatever it may be, ways must be found of producing hybrid disciplines. This will, of course, mean, as the noble Viscount knows, more money and multi-professorial departments.

There is one further point I should like to make at the end. Again, I would turn to the fundamental attitude of the Government to research. I understand that there is a possibility that the National Economic Development Council—"Neddy" as it is called—is also taking into account not only the needs of science, but the possibility of applying scientific thinking—I will not go into that subject any more than calling it scientific thinking—in our national affairs. Whether this is in terms of operational research methods or what, I do not know. We are waiting for the Slater Committee and the Trend Committee. I would urge the Government that the time has now come for the noble Viscount to develop his Ministry or his responsibilities, or some other body, into a more organised formal structure. I think there is a great deal to be said for the informal nature of his responsibility and the way in which he has discharged it, but the result is that the Government are apt to develop the sort of schizophrenia which requires them at times to hold back where they should press on.

There is a complaint which is growing all the time and which may be a general complaint about the atmosphere which the Government generate in other fields, that there is a lack of urgency in this field. A very distinguished scientist wrote to me quite recently and said that the whole Government attitude to science is basically inadequate. Much lip service is paid and great use is made of science when it is unavoidable. This may be an exaggeration in certain respects, but it is argued that there is not the seriousness or the urgency. To say this is not to. denigrate our country. The fact that we believe we have the men and the capacity, and that we could both develop faster in this field in this country and help to develop the rest of the world, must depend on the sense of urgency that the noble Viscount himself, who has a big part to play, can get into this field. So far, he is not convincing scientists that he is taking them seriously enough. We want some of the enthusiasm he has, and we want him to get more enthusiasm into his Government colleagues. It is true that this year we had four Nobel Prizewinners in science, and it is argued that this is despite the system. I do not believe that that is fair, because we have much that we can be proud of. But I think there is a need for a more positive lead. The Government and the noble Viscount have had quite a good run on this matter, and I think he will agree that we have supported him in his endeavours in this field. We are now looking for rather more positive results.

4.25 p.m.


My Lords, there is an important section at the end of the Report which deals with the biological research which we have been doing here and how we might make it more effective. But one cannot read the Report as a whole without thinking of the problem of the basic sciences in general. Most countries are facing it. We all want our technology to be better, and we are ready to spend money on it. We all agree, I think, that our technology will not go on advancing unless it is backed up by research in the fundamental sciences, research which cannot be expected to pay immediate divi- dends except in our scientific status in the world.

It is quite a new responsibility for Governments to have to support basic science on this scale, and there are two quite different ways of doing it. One way is to support the research in the scientific departments of universities, and the other is to set up special research institutes outside the university system altogether. In the U.S.S.R. and the countries which follow its lead, that is the system which is used. The universities do the teaching, and much of the research is done, or at any rate has been done, in special institutes under the control of the Academy of Science. The U.S.S.R. Academy is made up of leading scientists in every field, and at one time it had 150 research institutes under its control. That was found to be rather much and now it has about 70. The universities look after the teaching. There are good research departments in some of them, and there is some postgraduate teaching in the special research institutes. But it is not part of the general plan. Poland, Czechoslovakia and China all adopt that system—teaching in universities and research in special institutes run by the academy of the country.

This is the obvious short-term method for expanding science rapidly in countries where the universities have lost most of their equipment. On the other hand, in the West, in the U.S.A. and in Europe, the emphasis has been on research in the universities or in independent undertakings. There are national institutes, of course, in the U.S.A. as there are here, but there is a great deal of very expensive basic research done in universities in the U.S.A. financed by Government contracts or by private donations. The initiative usually comes from the university in question, and they have a fairly free hand about the way in which they go to work. Here we may rely a little more on the special institutes outside the university system, like the National Physical Laboratory at Harwell, or the Medical Research Council Unit. But there are large areas of basic research which are left entirely to our universities. We regard it as their duty to carry out research as well as teaching, and if our university research is not supported by the State we should soon become a very second-rate power in the scientific world.

Of course, both systems have arguments for and against them. It is no doubt much tidier to have all the research in one organisation and all the teaching in another, but with our system research and teaching are mixed up and it may be exceedingly difficult to find out how much is being spent on either of them. But I do not think anyone doubts that the universities are the right place for most of the basic research in science which we do, and we should never contemplate the idea of a university which does nothing but teach and does not have as strong research as we can give it.

If we go in for that system it means that there must be somebody to balance the claims of teaching and of research in the same building and under the same administration. We are developing our university teaching at a great rate and I think—although I quite agree with the noble Viscount who opened this debate that this has not been at all a bad year for achievement in basic science—that there are dangers in the future, if we are not very careful, of the balance in our universities swinging over in the direction of teaching. If we are going to rely upon our university system for most of our basic research we must make quite sure it can go on without interruption. It is a very tender plant; it is easily discouraged; and it is very hard to start it growing again if it has been neglected.

The head of a university department with a limited budget and faced with, say, a hundred more students to teach will find it very difficult not to cut down on the research side, to cut down the space and the money for it, and, worse still, to cut down the time which can be allowed to the stall, who ought to be left free to work out their own problems. The need for free time for research in universities is, I think, most vital. We must not expect our best scientists to be contented if they have to spend the whole of the term doing nothing but teaching and then are left in a rather jaded condition to do their research work in the vacation.

If the staff of an expanding university system are to have the time for research as well as for teaching, we must see that there are enough new appointments to keep the staff-student ratio from falling. It would be a fatal mistake to train young scientists in departments where the research had already been stifled because everybody had to do not merely more teaching but more administration, more planning of buildings and more sitting on committees. Those are problems, of course, which must be left to the University Grants Committee, which has to extract the money from the Treasury and find some way possibly of giving grants, or earmarking grants—although I know it does not like doing this—for research or with a strong bias in favour of their being used for research rather than for teaching.

Two years ago, I think, we had a debate here in which the noble Earl, Lord Longford, suggested that the time had come for the universities to be under the care of the Ministry of Education. I was shocked at the idea and I still am, for as long as universities are centres for research as well as for teaching they ought to be looked after by a body which understands the needs of research departments and their special problems. But I am sure the noble Earl, Lord Longford, was quite right to raise the question, because we are all beginning to wonder how long the University Grants Committee will be able to stand the strain without some considerable reorganisation and extension. It has done so well in the past that we are in danger of forgetting how much it has to do now. It has supervised the expansion of our universities from about 50,000 students before the war to 100,000 now, but the total will soon rise to 150,000.

In the past the Committee was trusted at all levels because its members could find the time to visit all the universities and take a personal interest in their affairs, and because its permanent staff could keep an eye on all the new building. But very soon it will have six more universities to visit, six new Vice-Chancellors on its doorstep, in addition to all the old ones who cannot be left out in the cold because they are expanding their universities. The Committee has an immense problem of buildings and visitations and its responsibilities are going to become greater and greater—we hope they are going to become greater and greater. It is part of the policy to expand our universities.

I think that this question of the growing responsibilities of the University Grants Committee is quite relevant to our discussion. We must have research in our universities. We want it to keep up its standard in spite of the expansion. We want a central committee which still has the time to visit departments where research goes on and we also want a body which has the scientific knowledge to encourage research, and, of course, we want it to be a body which has the confidence of the Government when it comes to finance. I am quite sure that the Minister for Science and his Advisory Council and the University Grants Committee have devoted a great deal of thought to ways and means of making this sort of reorganisation, and I only hope they will find a good solution because I think it is a very important problem indeed for the future of the whole of our science.

We have to realise that under our system a great deal of our basic research in science must come from universities, and that the expansion of universities is going to involve a difficult time for staff who have to teach as well as to work on their own problems. Whoever looks after the welfare of the university system, therefore, will have to ensure that expanding the teaching does not mean contracting the research; for 20,000 more science graduates will be no great asset if the men who have taught them have had less time to carry out research into their own problems. Planting out special research units in new universities can of course do a good deal and has given spectacular results in the past, but I do not think it is a long-term solution. It can sow discontent and it can make universities neglect their responsibilities for the research which their staff ought to be doing.

The section of the Report which deals with biological work shows the kind of difficulties which we have to face. Biology has become far more aware of physical and chemical processes. It needs students with the required training to follow bio-chemistry and bio-physics; they have to understand the nature of chromosomes, the use of computers and electron microscopes, and so on. We want to recast the teaching in universities to meet these developments and we must do it without losing the great oppor- tunities that we have now on the research side. It is a field with immense possibilities and so far we have done very well in it; better than most countries. Money put into it would keep us in the lead, because we have the men and the ideas. The field is so new that we may lose our lead by not having the time and the energy and the money for the new developments that we ought to be making. As the Report says, the leader in research on these lines will have to face administrative and managerial problems of an altogether different order of severity than in the past: the problem of finding space, for instance, for research equipment, and the money to get it, the time in which it can be used without neglecting the new kinds of teaching which have to be evolved.

One solution put forward by the Committee of the Royal Society in their Memorandum is the setting up of a new research council on the lines of the Medical and Agricultural Research Councils. Both those existing Councils have become part of our accepted method of looking after research and they have done it extraordinarily well. They have had an immense effect on medical and agricultural science. A biological council might do so too, but only if there are ample funds to back it and no insistence on one particular range of problems. It should be able to deal with genetics and animal behaviour as well as taxonomy and insecticides, and so on. I should like to draw attention to the paragraph in the Royal Society's Memorandum which says that: Every endeavour should be made to see that universities are adequately equipped before new 'National Institutes' are established". A biological research council with the power to give grants for research, and ultimately with special institutes, would certainly encourage the development if it had the funds to spend on it. But I am afraid it is a popular fallacy with scientists and with university people generally to suppose that more research councils are bound to lead to more research. A research council may be all very well as a status symbol, but unless it can get a fair share of our quite limited resources it will not mean much more than another office staff and more committees.

The Advisory Council whose report we are considering have tried to compare what we are spending here on research with what is being spent in the U.S.A. It is a difficult comparison to make, but it looks as though the proportion of gross national product spent on research and development is not much less here than in the U.S.A.: 2.7 per cent. in Great Britain and 2.9 per cent. there. Yet as far as research in universities is concerned, we are constantly clamouring for more funds, whereas in the U.S.A. there appear to be more Government funds available than there are problems ready to be solved and research teams anxious to work on them. Perhaps that applies only in the medical field, but it is the general impression one gets when one is out there. I think the contrast may come partly from the way in which our university system is financed, by a quinquennial block grant which is supposed to cover everything.

In a department or a college where most of us do some research or some teaching it is almost impossible to disentangle the sums which are spent on research. It may be our own fault if we neglect research in favour of teaching, but it is quite clear that we are nothing like so well off on the research side as they are in many of the universities of the U.S.A. It may be our own fault if the need for teaching, say, 50,000 more students comes to dominate the picture of our university science in the next few years. It will certainly be a disaster if it means the universities are not able to do as much research as they have been doing in the past. I hope the Minister for Science and his advisers will be able to find the way to ensure that university research will not suffer. I am afraid it may suffer in this period, when university teaching will make such demands on our time and energy and on the money that we ought to be spending on research, not only in the basic sciences but in science of every kind.

4.45 p.m.


My Lords, in accordance with the usual custom, I must declare some interest in the subject of this debate, because I have an interest in one or two of the projects referred to by the noble Viscount in his opening speech. I should like for a moment to join issue on a few remarks the noble Viscount made in his opening statement which seem to me to be open to very unfortunate misinterpretation. He seemed to be saying, in effect, that scientific honesty is vital, science is part of our culture, and therefore we must not degrade it by getting it mixed up with sordid, everyday problems of defence and industrial prosperity. If I have grossly misinterpreted his remarks I apologise, but it seems to me they were open to this kind of misinterpretation.


My Lords, I am glad the noble Viscount said that, because it is not what I intended. What I intended to say was if you want science to do its job in defence and economics you have first to pursue it for its own ends and then to apply it to defence and economics; but if you go about it with the idea of getting military power or money it will in fact defeat you.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Viscount. I would entirely agree with his comment, but perhaps he will agree that it is as well to explain his remarks. I entirely agree that scientific honesty is vital, but I think it is true that the terms of reference of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy cover the whole field of civil science, and I take that to mean the whole field of science in its broadest sense, including fundamental science, applied science and technology, and those who work in those fields. I hope the noble Viscount would agree that the ultimate objectives of the civil scientific policy of the Government—and I take these in no order of priority—are the acquisition and advancement of knowledge, prosperity in industry and the promotion of social welfare in health, water supply and the like.

The present report gives attention to aspects of all these. I would welcome particularly the statement on pan 5 on international co-operation, where the Report states that: It should not be supposed that international co-operation is a substitute for national excellence. This is a point of great wisdom and tremendous importance at the present time. I would also welcome wholeheartedly the comments made on the provision of computers for research. These add greatly to the useful output of research workers. But computers require mathematicians. It was thought when they first came into being that computers would replace mathematicians. In fact, because of the demands for solving new problems and the large output of data to be analysed and the need for programming, there is an increasing demand for mathematicians. Last year's report of the A.C.S.P. referred to the shortage of mathematicians, particularly mathematics teachers, and to the importance of mathematics in science. I think it would be most valuable to have the advice of the noble Viscount and the A.C.S.P. next year on how we are getting on with the supply of mathematicians, who are so vital in this field. I regret that the discussion of the A.C.S.P. on the Government science organisation has been interrupted. I felt that last year's Report made some extremely valuable points, and I sincerely hope that the report of Sir Burke Trend's Committee will not be unduly delayed.

Perhaps we ought to consider this subject sub judice in view of the sitting of that Committee, but I hope the House will allow me to make two remarks on subjects which are closely allied to the organisation of Government research. First, it seems to me that there is a risk that we are not getting full value from the work done by the scientists and engineers employed in some of our Government-supported research organisations, owing to the inflexible establishments—establishments in the sense of manpower allocations. For example, in many cases the recruitment of five to six technicians or clerical staff will be of much more value than the recruitment of two qualified scientists or technologists, and they will cost roughly the same. It seems to me of great importance, if frustration and waste of effort are to be avoided, that the local management of these establishments should be allowed to spend the funds allotted for staff in the way best suited to their requirements.

Secondly, there is another aspect of obtaining full value for money from Government scientific expenditure which has been before the public eye recently. This is the question of the importance of the so-called "technological fall-out" from defence and space activities. Vast sums of money are being spent in the United States of America on space research and exploration, in addition to the normal defence budget. It is easy to criticise that expenditure as being wasteful, as being purely for prestige, for "keeping up with the Joneses" and that kind of thing, but there is no doubt that the resultant benefits are startling and are leading to rapid advances in other fields.

It is true, as the A.C.S.P. pointed out in the 1959–60 Report, in paragraph 71, that our resources are limited and we certainly cannot afford anything like what the Americans are doing; nor even to have a programme for putting up satellites using only our own resources. But some time has passed since that comment by the A.C.S.P. Progress has been made, and I would ask the noble Viscount whether he feels that we are doing the right amount of work in this field to enable us to collaborate effectively with our friends. The further advice of the A.C.S.P. on this subject would be of the greatest value.

Then, on co-operative research, I believe that our research associations are a most valuable factor in our industrial life. There has been much discussion over the past few years on the method of support, particularly in relation to the provision of capital equipment and the promotion and support of more revolutionary new ideas. This is a most important factor in increasing the use made of research associations by industry and in recruiting and maintaining high quality scientific staff. I wonder whether the noble Viscount would think that this subject would be suitable for referring to the A.C.S.P.

Finally, and on a really most important point, how far have we progressed over the last few years in giving the scientist (and I use that word in the broadest sense; the scientist, engineer or technologist) his proper place in society? On this depends whether we obtain the best men and whether scientific knowledge is used in the most effective way. In the services, in military affairs and in Government establishments much has been done over the years to bring scientists into the policy-making arena. But in some Government departments, particularly civil departments, much still remains to be done. The late Lord Cherwell once implied that scientists were "always on tap and should be on top". I think that is probably an exaggeration. Scientists, all human beings, are mortal in their mistakes. The fact is, that all experienced men have a part to play in determining policy. But there is still a tendency to keep scientists out of the direct line of authority and decision-taking in the Government machine.

This, surely, is an aspect of Government scientific policy which is of the utmost importance and would repay study by the Council. For this country, of all countries, scientific advance is of prime importance; it is a major factor in the success of our export drive, and so of our future prosperity. It is true, as the noble Viscount has said, that we have done well, very well; but still it is not good enough; and it is not good enough because of our special problems in this country. Our raw materials are few, and much must be imported. But we have a vast reservoir of scientific knowledge and ingenuity which can add value to those scarce raw materials. I hope that my comments have not given any impression of criticism of the A.C.S.P.—quite the reverse. I want to see it used to the full, for I believe that in the Council we have a body of fundamental importance to our economy. We are fortunate indeed that so many eminent and experienced men give freely of their time to serve on it. Perhaps in next year's Report they might give some consideration to themselves, particularly towards the achievement of some closer integration of the Council into the machinery of Government, with the objective of making their work and advice even more effective.

4.56 p.m.


My Lords, in view of the subject we are debating today, it might seem that I am in the position of a prisoner in the dock. But before I go any further, I should like to make it quite clear that I do not regard myself as such. The practice of one individual wearing several hats is not entirely unknown in your Lordships' House, and so to-day I should like to wear my purely personal hat—I should like to be regarded as myself, and not simply as a spokesman for the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy. For that reason I do not in tend to discuss in detail what is in the Report, or to defend it as printed; but I should like to make a few rather general observations on a number of matters which, in a measure, are touched upon in the Report that is before us.

I should like to say, first of all, one or two things about some aspects of international co-operation, or, rather, international collaboration, in science. I am entirely in favour of international co-operation in science, and have been all my life; but I must confess that there are certain aspects of international collaboration in science where centralised institutions are concerned—such as, for example, the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN) and the European Space Research Organisation (ESRO)—which leave me at times a little uneasy. One of the difficulties is that although originally the commitments may be defined, all such institutions rather naturally develop a momentum of their own. The result is that at times strong political pressure is liable to be exerted on us to accept or to accede to further increased commitments, sometimes at the behest of nations whose financial stake is considerably smaller than our own; and these commitments may be entered into without due consideration of their relative importance, in the light of our other scientific needs.

I think we should remember, too, that if, for example, we contribute to a large new accelerator programme at CERN, we shall inevitably have to provide considerably increased finance for the further support of nuclear physics in this country; because only if we spend that money shall we have the scientists properly trained and equipped to make use of the new equipment which we are developing at CERN. Items of this sort cost a great deal of money. At the present time we are spending a number of millions a year on nuclear physics, and there is every reason to expect that this expenditure will go up at the rate of perhaps 15 or 20 per cent. per annum.

My Lords, I should be the last to seek to hamper the development of science, and it is perfectly clear that in nuclear physics and space research there are areas in which men must and will seek new knowledge. The fact that the work which is done in these areas has no obvious practical consequence is not a relevant argument against doing the work. It is well known that most major technological achievements have sprung from fundamental and apparently useless research done a considerable time before. But while this means that any Government must support fundamental science, just as it must support the development of literature and the arts (and in the case of science it has the additional incentive that it may be of some practical benefit) all this must lead us, in due course, into a consideration of cost.

So long as activities in science cost amounts which are small in relation to the total budget there is not very much of a problem; but when we find, as in the case of those areas I have been mentioning—and it will be the case in other areas of science before very long, I am sure—the cost beginning to rise very steeply, a time comes when it is necessary to consider what is the scale of effort we ought to put into any one field. For an indefinite increase in expenditure in one field is likely to cause restriction of expenditure in others. That will remain the case unless we are in the happy position of having a continually rising gross national product, or we are prepared to cut back severely in other directions of expenditure—directions which may be regarded by the country at large as having at least equal importance.

There is another important point in connection with CERN to which I would draw attention. CERN is widely, and very properly, regarded as an excellent example of international co-operation in science. Here we have a kind of consortium of 13 nations which have combined together to provide the equipment necessary for high energy nuclear physics. As a result, the scientists of these countries, working in part collaboratively, have the opportunity to use for their researches machines which their own countries, singly, could not afford. This is very good, but we have now reached a stage at which the machines we have known so far, those of, say, 20 to 30 GeV (and may I say, for the benefit of the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, that one GeV is 1,000 million electron volts), are becoming obsolescent; and people are now talking, as the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, mentioned, of going ahead to machines with energies of 100, and even 300, GeV.

Such machines are enormously expensive to build and to operate. Yet, as things now stand, we are likely to see proposals for instruments of this type from three sources—CERN, the United States, and Russia. These huge machines will be used to carry out experiments of essentially the same type exploring the same fields—experiments which, as Dr. Weisskopf, the Director-General of CERN, said in London only last week, are pushing forward the frontiers of man's knowledge of the universe but have no practical advantage to any one country. This fact is paralleled in other areas. It applies equally in space. After all, from a scientific point of view it is very important to know a good deal about the moon, but who gets the knowledge first is not important at all. It always seems to me that Chauvinism, even on a continental scale, has no place in science; and the pursuit of prestige is just about the worst possible reason for undertaking scientific research.

As the noble Viscount the Leader of the House said earlier, we are dealing here with global matters. Like him, I believe the time has come when we should go forward boldly in areas such as this for co-operation on a world scale, avoiding unnecessary waste of resources and duplication. By all means let us contribute all we can to the advancement of science, but let us do it, so far as possible, in a rational manner. What is more, I think we should remember that nuclear physics is only a small part of natural science.

I think it is pertinent to point out here that, as has been emphasised not only in the latest Report but also in earlier Reports of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy, there is clear need for a greater scale of effort in this country in research and for the provision of more senior academic posts, not only in biology (I may say to the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, that I do not understand his reference to the fact that the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy had earlier been against the development of biology), but also over a very large area of science. Nuclear physics and space research are very important; but so, I venture to suggest, is the rest of science. It would seem to me indefensible to spend freely on projects such as those I have been discussing, the very large sums that are involved, and at the same time to restrict other activities, especially when we remember that a very small part of these sums would transform the whole scene in broad areas of science. Among these areas are many where advances are likely to be of material significance to all of us at much shorter range than is the case with high energy physics. Moreover, we should remember that if the rest of science is restricted financially at the same time there is some danger of so glamorising these expensive pursuits that they may draw into them too high a proportion of the best talent we have, to the detriment of our scientific and technological progress.

Your Lordships will have noticed that the Advisory Council records in its Report a survey of our national expenditure upon research and development in 1961–62, which we estimated at about £634 million. Of course, different surveys of this kind—and there have been other surveys; for example by the Federation of British Industries—may give slightly differing figures. The difference between these figures is to be attributed to difficulty in definition of terms used, but even after making allowance for errors, inaccuracies, and for the difficulties of comparing amounts spent in one country and another, is seems fairly clear that the percentage of our gross national product which is devoted to research and development—about 2.7 per cent.—is at any rate of the same order as that which is similarly applied in the United States of America.

But, my Lords, any tendency there may be to complacency about this is quickly removed when we remember that, although the United States has only three times the population of this country, it has nine times the gross national product. Quite apart from any discussion as to whether our present research effort is correctly and properly planned, I think it is clear that if we want to spend money on anything like the American scale the first thing we have to do is to increase our gross national product. This implies, to my mind, that we ought to be putting our main effort into the technological field, the area in which research leads quickly to developments of economic importance. That means fields like metallurgy, solid state physics, applied biology, engineering, chemistry and so on.

This brings me to my final point, a point which concerns this widely discussed loss of highly-trained scientists and technologists, which has been raised by several previous speakers here to-day. As has been mentioned by several noble Lords, there has been a recent and most interesting report on this subject produced by a committee of the Royal Society. I think we should look at that report rather objectively. It is based on a much more comprehensive study of the loss of scientists and technologists holding a Ph.D. degree than anything which has been attempted before. It confirms and expands an impression gained from earlier sample surveys that there has been an increase in emigration of scientists from this country since 1950. The proportion of Ph.D.s emigrating, your Lordships will recall, is stated in the report to have risen from 8 per cent. in 1952 to a figure of about 17 per cent. during the last three or four years; after going through a slight peak in 1957 when it was about 19 per cent. Basically, the loss has risen from 8 to 17 per cent. When you bear in mind the fact that those taking a Ph.D. degree, in general, represent the abler section of our graduates, no one can regard these figures with equanimity. At the same time, I would say that one equally need not be alarmist about it.

It is true, as has been pointed out already to-day, that no figures are given in the report for immigrants into this country; and undoubtedly, particularly at the highest quality level, if you included the high-level immigrants to this country during the last ten years you would find that the net loss is considerably less than would appear. To that extent the figures in the report require some qualification. But the report, I think, naturally and rightly concentrates a good deal of attention on the emigration to the United States, where the proportion of Ph.D.s emigrating has gone up from about 4 per cent. to 7 per cent. in the same period. That corresponds, of course, in actual numbers to an increase by a factor of three.

It is true, as the Royal Society report points out, that new emigration from the United States to this country is negligible. It is equally true that this is the loss of scientists which has aroused most public comment and concern. But the trouble is that when you look at a subject like this, it is extremely difficult to find any single or simple answer for it. It is all too easy to say, as some do, that it is entirely owing to the inadequate provision of facilities for scientists in this country. This doubtless may be a factor; but, surely, higher salaries and the higher standard of living in the United States—again a reflection of their expanding economy and higher gross national product—are also factors.

There are one or two other important, if less obvious, factors that are involved in this matter. One of the things that interested me about the Royal Society report was the information it contained that of all the Ph.D.s that emigrate permanently to America, some 50 per cent. go to America first in the actual year when they take the Ph.D. degree. As a professor of chemistry—and remember that chemistry is the science which supplies, I think, the largest number of these emigrants—I am only too well aware of the fact that there has been a very great increase in the number of high-value post-doctoral fellowships offered to young men at the Ph.D. stage to go to America for research work. There are so many that even a very average Ph.D. can get one fairly easily. I think we have to remember that these young men going off at that stage are at a very impressionable age, and they are also just at the stage when they are beginning to look around for the possibility of a permanent post. Another factor which I do not think one can ignore completely is that they are also at a very biologically impressionable age, and that an American wife can be a very strong pull towards the other side of the Atlantic.

Roughly speaking, I believe that as long as the flood of these American postdoctoral fellowships continues at its present level—that is to say, as long as the American economy keeps expanding—we are going to continue to suffer loss by emigration. I do not think it will be stopped simply by an increase in postdoctoral fellowships here. As has been mentioned by other speakers this afternoon, it is natural and, indeed, eminently desirable that young men of science should go abroad to widen their experience. I did it myself, for that matter, although I went to Germany rather than to the United States. I confess that I find it rather disheartening to see that, largely because of these high-value fellowships, the vast majority of our young people go to do their post-doctoral work in America, to the neglect of Europe. There is room for some effort here, although I think it will take quite a substantial effort, because, alas!, the language problem operates in favour of America, and this despite the fact that it is of very great advantage to a young scientist to acquire a real command of a second language.

On the emigration side, one has to remember that at a somewhat later stage in a scientist's career emigration has always gone on to some extent, and is likely to continue. Science is international and its practitioners will always be less restricted in their movements by national boundaries than is the case with most other professions. It is true, also, that a young scientist, say in his thirties, who is looking around for a senior position—a professorship, or something like that—will take one wherever it is offered, provided always that the facilities for doing his work are correct. In many cases it is often the actual time at which a post becomes vacant or a new one is created that may determine whether or not he emigrates.

My Lords, I am tempted to quote my own case in this matter. Shortly before the war, before I was a professor in this country, I received an extremely tempting offer from the United States. This offer I should undoubtedly have accepted had it not been for the entirely unpredictable death just at that time of the holder of an important Chair of Chemistry in this country. All I can say, my Lords, is that, had it not been for that person's dying at that juncture, I should to-day be merely an entry in the Royal Society report.

I would not have your Lordships think for a moment that I underrate the danger to this country of the loss of able scientists. We have to try to minimise the loss. But I think we have to face the fact that the United States has quite openly admitted that she is seeking to recruit scientists overseas. And, almost to echo the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, one might say, "Why not?" If she has an expanding economy and needs scientists, naturally she will recruit them where she can get them. But in these circumstances, as long as America has an expanding economy, I think we have to expect temptation to be put in the way of our young men. In order to ensure that too many of them are not lost to us in this way, I believe that we, in the first instance, must seek to expand our economy and raise our national income.

It is not simply a matter of providing more scope in the universities. More important, I think, may be a quickening of the pace and a change in the character of research in our industry. I believe that, in the end, everything will turn on that; and I believe, too, that the Government have a very considerable part to play in this matter. But if they are going to do it properly, they must find a way of concentrating applied research and development, financed by the Government, on those fields which are most likely to make a real contribution to economic growth and to the improvement of our export trade.

5.21 p.m.


My Lords, quite recently I spent almost three weeks in Geneva at the United Nations Conference on the Application of Science and Technology for the Benefit of the Less Developed Areas; and, by reason of my belief in the international importance of the subject matter of this Conference, and the fact that I was the only Member of your Lordships' House who was a delegate to it, I think I might seek to describe the Conference as briefly as I can to you. It was a very large Conference indeed, with over 1,500 delegates from 90 countries, in addition to many scores of representatives of the United Nations bodies, the Specialised Agencies, and other non-official, non-Governmental bodies; and the Conference went on for two and a half weeks. The purpose, of course, was to attempt to bridge the economic gap between the developed and the under-developed countries by the more rapid propagation of science and technology in the less developed countries.

I believe that one of the reasons I was asked to lead the Australian delegation to this Conference, and to be a Vice-Chairman of it, was the fact that four years ago I moved a resolution at the United Nations on behalf of Australia seeking to draw the attention of the United Nations very much more pointedly to the special contribution that science and technology could make to the promotion of human welfare. To my great surprise, this resolution was accepted unanimously at the United Nations, which is not a usual thing. This gave me a place personally in the chain of events that led up to this recent Conference, and, I think, to my presence at it.

The Conference was mentioned in a few lines, in futuro, in the Report of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy, as a great international gathering that was shortly to take place. As the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, was good enough to give me an opportunity to say, by way of interjection, the word "UNCSAT" comes from the capital letters, in abbreviated form, of the rather long and clumsy description of the Conference; and I think this synthetic word "UNCSAT" must share with "Pugwash" the distinction of being one of the most non-euphonious descriptions of international conferences that could ever have emerged.

The Conference was attended by very large numbers of distinguished scientists and others, the names of many of whom are household words in many countries. Although is invidious to mention individuals, I think some of the names which I shall mention may well be known to a considerable number of your Lordships. The British delegation was led (and very well led, if I may say so) by Sir William Slater, lately Secretary of the Agricultural Research Council. Professor P. M. S. Blackett, of the Imperial College, was a delegate, as was Sir Harold Himsworth, Secretary of the Medical Research Council. And. of course, there were a great many other men of distinction. On the American side, Dr. Walsh McDermott was the Chairman of their very large delegation, which included Dr. Detlev Bronk; Dr. Rabi; Dr. Jerome Wiesner, who is the scientific adviser to President Kennedy; Harlan Cleveland, of the State Department; Harrison Brown; and many other people whose names are well known. From India, there was Professor Bhabha and Professor Mahalonobis; from Pakistan Professor Abdus Salam and Dr. Siddigni: and from France Professor Rougier. There were also, of course, a great many others whom one should mention, if there were time.

The Conference, of course, suffered from the very fact of its enormous size, which inevitably placed a limiting factor on its achievement. In spite of that, and of all the many other ancillary difficulties from which a Conference of this size must suffer, I believe that there was a very great impetus given to the purpose of the Conference, which was to drive home to the lesser developed countries the economic value to them of the proper use of science and technology. The agenda itself was framed (though I feel that this was an error) to promote discussions on the 1,800-odd scientific papers that were written for the Conference by various members of the large number of countries involved. That provided the agenda of the Conference—the sub-division of the subject-matter of these 1,800 papers conveniently into twelve main divisions. These were discussed in no fewer than 80 different sessions, which meant, of course, that four or five sessions were going on at the same time on various groups of subjects.

In effect, however, there were two Conferences going on at the same time in Geneva at UNCSAT. One was the formal session of the Conference to discuss the subject-matter of the many papers submitted; and the other (I think probably the more important of the two) was composed of small, unofficial groups to discuss the follow-up of the Conference, and how the lesser developed countries were, in practice, to take advantage of these two magic words, "science" and "technology". These discussions were not held in any formal way, but by small groups of twos and threes in corridors and in small rooms. I think that these turned out in practice to be an informal way of getting over the fact that the formal agenda of the Conference was not really the main purpose: that so far as the lesser developed countries were concerned it was the future which interested them a great deal more. In my view it was a great pity that the follow-up of the Conference, to discuss the machinery, by which the objective of the Conference could be achieved, did not, in fact, form part of the formal agenda of the Conference, so that it could be discussed not in a hole-and-corner way in corridors and small rooms but in the Conference sessions themselves.

My Lords, I will not attempt to deal in any way with the subject-matter of these 1,800 papers that were presented to the Conference, which provided a pile at the side of each delegate which was over three feet high, and which, of course, it was entirely impossible for any individual to absorb, even in very small degree. I will not attempt to describe that side of it; but I believe that what that vast number of papers (which I am quite sure were of high importance, by reason of their content) really did to the great bulk of people attending the Conference was to demonstrate what scientific and technological knowledge can be produced by well-organised science—largely, of course, in the well-developed countries. I feel that that was the broad lesson that those 1,800 papers had to give.

I should like to speak of what I regard as some of the highlights of the conference, and possibly, in a way, of some of the lessons that may be learnt from it, because it was unique. I think it is the first time in the world that a conference of this size, with this very wide representation, has ever been held, and certainly it is quite easily the biggest conference of its sort, or of almost any other sort, that has ever been held. The two largest delegations were those from the United Kingdom and from the United States, each of which had something very comfortably (or possibly uncomfortably) more than 100 delegates in them. The Russian delegation was rather smaller: there were only about 38 people. But they included no fewer than seven Academicians of the U.S.S.R.

I noticed that in the British delegation neither the Minister nor the Permanent Head, nor any senior member of the Department of Technical Co-operation had a place in the conference. I should have thought, in my ignorance, that this was the Department most principally concerned in this sort of conference. I also did not see any but very junior members (and I hope I am doing no-one an injury) of the Foreign Office; and no representative of the Colonial Office or the Commonwealth Relations Office. A number of the other delegations, including the American, had the equivalent senior representation of all these departments. I am quite sure the British delegation was able to cope with all the technical matters involved in the conference, but I was not conscious that Sir William Slater had any senior advice on the inevitable mixture of political and diplomatic, and on what may be called the "shenaggling" which almost always goes on at a conference of this kind attended by representatives of 90 nations. The British delegation, so far as I could see, was therefore at a distinct disadvantage.

The American delegation, on the other hand, was well-equipped on the scientific and technological sides and also had very senior individuals from the State Department and other relevant departments, and the President's own staff, to cope with all the non-scientific matters—political, diplomatic and shenaggling—that do, and did, arise. The delegation of the Soviet Union was also on a high level, though rather smaller than the British or the U.S. delegations.

There was no very serious attempt at introducing competitive ideologies in the discussions, but the Soviet delegation reminded us consistently, in a good-natured way, that "anything we could do they could do better". One of the disappointments of the conference was the comparative under-representation of a number of the less-developed countries in Asia, Africa, and, so far as we are concerned, the West Indies. Whether that was from lack of appropriately qualified individuals to send as delegates, or by reason of the cost, I do not know. I should think that at any future conference of this kind the lesser-developed countries should be as well represented as possible. Here, they were just the audience to which all the rest of us were speaking.

In spite of that, the voices of the lesser-developed areas were loud and clear, although most of us had to discover this for ourselves in smaller discussion groups with the representatives of the Asian, African and Caribbean countries. They complained, in particular, of the embarrassing number of United Nations' Specialised Agencies. Each of these had some small and fragmentary responsibility in coping with some aspect or other of science and technology. When they had a problem of a particular sort on which they wanted advice and guidance they did not know where to turn, except methodically to go through the nine United Nations Agencies before they could discover where they should have gone in the first place. They complained that there was no co-ordination or concentration of sources of advice in the United Nations or the Specialised Agencies to which under-developed countries could turn.

The whole of this conference was, in fact, discussing the United Nations and the United Nations Agencies as sources of aid on the scientific and technological side. For some reason there was no forum there to deal with the comparative utility, virtue or value of bilateral aid, under the Colombo Plan, or otherwise, on the one hand, and aid through the United Nations and the Specialised Agencies on the other. That was never discussed at all. Everything said at this conference had a relevance to the United Nations machinery and set-up.

One of the complaints of the lesser-developed countries was of the many gaps in the United Nations' structure of machinery for aid on science and technology—gaps on the developmental side and on the industrial development side. Nowhere could they turn in the United Nations family for aid, advice or guidance on these matters. They had difficulty on many occasions in getting the services of well-qualified experts on particular subjects, scientific and technological, in a reasonable period of time. They complained of the immense delay between the time of a request for an individual of a certain qualification and the time when that individual was made available to them. These various complaints were aired at our gatherings, and a suggestion was made that a completely new Specialised Agency should be set up to cope with all the scientific and technological subjects so far as the United Nations and the lesser-developed countries were concerned. A number of us argued against this proposal because, in our opinion, this would have made confusion rather worse confounded than it is now.

Another suggestion made by the underdeveloped countries was that there should be a radical reco-ordination and rationalisation of all the scientific and technological needs as between the sphere of the United Nations and its Specialised Agencies. This may be logical, but it would be extremely difficult to achieve, because the Specialised Agencies of the United Nations are practically autonomous bodies who are quite independent of the United Nations itself. They have their own funds and their own constitutions, and I believe that they would be most unlikely to yield to a suggested rationalisation and co-ordination of all their activities since it would mean that a number of them would thereby lose some part of their present functions and responsibilities.

An interesting fact to me was that economic planning was widely recommended to the developing countries by the developed countries. It seemed that planning had certainly become respectable—at any rate for other countries. The thought in my mind consistently during the conference was that one of the effects that must certainly come from it will be a very insistent demand for more money for development for under-developed countries. I often took occasion to speak of the difficulties that some of the great countries face in finding more money for developing and for international aid to the smaller countries, due to problems over the balance of payments. I suggested that it would not be beyond the wit of man to hold a close investigation of the balance-of-payments problem and try to find a solution—a device, if you like—whereby international aid, properly defined, would not be allowed to affect adversely the balance-of-payments position of the donor country and so, at one remove, to menace that country's currency.

I am sure that your Lordships will be aware that many countries in the world have a balance-of-payments problem of one sort or another and any appreciably sized demand of the underdeveloped countries for more aid is going to come up hard against this problem of the balance of payments. But, as I have just said, I cannot believe that it is beyond the wit of man to find a solution. No doubt it is a matter, in the first place, for the International Monetary Fund.

The follow-up of this conference will be in the hands of the Economic and Social Council at its July meeting. Meanwhile, between now and July, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, U Thant, is calling a gathering of representatives of the countries who provided vice-chairmen to the conference—about fifteen countries—to meet with him in New York and discuss informally what came out of the conference and what he would seek to address to the Ecosoc when they meet in July. Being wise after the event, I think that the conference would have had more point and more prestige if it had placed on its agenda the application of scientific and technological aid and the machinery by which it is to be provided, rather than the multitude of scientific papers which in fact formed 100 per cent. of the formal agenda.

I am very conscious of the difficulty of trying to present to your Lordships any realistic picture of a conference of this sort and of this size in a relatively short time. In conclusion, I would say that this conference, to me at least, emphasised a matter which in recent years has become increasingly important—that is, the place of science and technology in international relations. International aid to the under-developed is of high and increasing importance to the economy of the world, as I think we all realise. I believe that the optimum channels for the translation of our accumulated scientific and technological knowledge into the minds and into practical utility in the hands of the lesser developed countries, have by no means been reached. I think that the conference will help and that the follow-up which Ecosoc may be moved to create in July will also be of help, but no country should cease thinking about improving their means of using science and technology in the interests of the lesser developed countries. There is room for a great deal of thought on almost every aspect of this problem, and it would be very rewarding if we could get the techniques, the machinery and the methods of to-day much improved.

5.44 p.m.


My Lords, I feel that the thanks of this House are due to the Lord President of the Council for the very full way in which he initiated this debate, which from the point of view of the scientific work of this country is one of considerable importance. The Motion that he has put down is divided into two parts which are quite distinct. First of all, it deals with the Report of the Advisory Council and, secondly, it deals with the support of the Government to science.

So far as the Annual Report of the Council is concerned, I do not propose to say very much about international cooperation in science matters, except to say that increased co-operation must expand. I am sure that we are all agreed that it should do so with reason and in a balanced way. The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, made the point. I would remind your Lordships that the Report says: … we believe that it is a mistake to suppose that it is preferable to resort to international activities whenever possible simply because it is politically desirable to extend the area of international co-operation". It quotes the Minister for Science, the Leader of this House, as the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, as reminded us, as suggesting that it should not be supposed that international co-operation is a substitute for national excellence". To my mind, that is a very wise remark from the Leader of the House and one that we want to see widely acknowledged over the whole front of scientific work. All this adds up to the wisdom of international co-operation in scientific work proceeding in a balanced way. In order to do that, scientific discussion between international groups should be recognised as a valuable tool to that end and I hope that it will be encouraged in whatever way is possible. Again, I would refer to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, about East German scientists.

Before leaving discussion of the contents of the Report, I should like to comment very favourably on Sections V and VI of it, those sections dealing with theoretical astronorny and seismology. These are subjects which, in this day and generation, are by no means popular, and the Report lays out ways and means by which they could be strengthened. Astronomy, of course, is one of the earliest sciences to be developed. We need only refer to the work of the Chinese astronomers, of the Grecian astronomers, of Copernicus, of Kepler, of Galileo and of our own incomparable Isaac Newton, for 27 years President of the Royal Society, to appreciate that astronomy lies at the very roots of our scientific philosophy.

Yet what a small fraction of the British universities have Chairs of astronomy? I think that there are only seven that have straightforward, or what you might call relatively simple, Chairs of astronomy in the list of their professors. I believe, therefore, that the Report is wise to keep up the pressure for further astronomical studies. These studies have a further beneficial effect. They stimulate in a practical way the study of mathematics, and, as one whose mathematics have always been ridiculously meagre, I believe that the production of mathematicians, adequate both in number and in quality, is one of the prime requirements of our educational system as we know it at present, and even more so when we consider how it ought to be enlarged and extended. Seismology, again, is another of our relatively neglected studies. Yet it is important in the ascertainment of the structure of the earth. The science is a relatively recent one and as a scientific discipline it is worthy of the additional encouragement which the Report shows is being given to it.

I would rapidly pass, however, to the second part of the Motion—namely, that part which invites us to realise the encouragement for science given by Her Majesty's Government. Here I think it right to declare my interest—not, of course, that there are any personal financial aspects, but merely that as a member of the Advisory Council I am a party to the Report we have been discussing. More importantly, however, I am the present Treasurer of the Royal Society, and, as such, I am involved in many activities financed by the Royal Society from funds which come to us from a variety of sources. I am far from saying that science organisations are anything like satisfied by the support they are receiving from Government sources; and to show that there are projects which the Royal Society considers should be undertaken, and for which extended support should be given, I would mention, first of all, the whole science of oceanography. That is one which in our judgment requires very much extended support. A phased scheme was put forward some two years ago, but no extended and additional effort is being made.

Then, again, we have stressed the wisdom of an expedition to the South Indian Ocean—I emphasise the South Indian Ocean—and particularly to such islands as Kerguelen, New Amsterdam, Crozet, St. Paul, and so on. This has actually been denied. The importance of this expedition is the study of the development, by the processes of nature, of biological phenomenon not influenced by human activity. This is a series of islands not yet influenced, or, if you like, not yet contaminated, by human activities. If these studies are not carried out now it may well be that it will be too late for them to be undertaken with the results that are desired.

Again, we want more research professors, and we want a more liberal attitude to the consequential activity following the International Geophysical Year—namely, for the International Quiet Sun Years for 1964–65, again referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton. We have not many locations in this universe where there is reason to think that in the next year or two we shall have conditions which we can properly describe as relatively quiet. Where we can confidently anticipate relative peacefulness, I should hope that we can spend a reasonable effort in studying it and making sure that we can understand it to the best of our ability.

However, having given these instances to show your Lordships that the science community is far from being satisfied and is in no danger of becoming complacent, I think it wise to express a measure of appreciation for the encouragement that we have so far been given. There is the agreement of the Government to the appointing by the Royal Society of five research professors, duly financed with salary and (I make this important addition) duly financed with money for equipment. There is the agreement to Great Britain's taking part in the International Indian Ocean Expedition, as already mentioned by the Lord President of the Council, helped, among other means, by the new research ship "Discovery", which some of us were able to see when she was recently in the Pool of London. And let us not forget—it is well worth remembering, and well worth emphasising—that there are the impressive contributions made to science by the operations of the D.S.I.R. and the University Grants Committee.

However, as I have indicated, I wish to focus attention on the contribution made by the Government, through the Royal Society, and to commend those activities to your Lordships' favourable attention. It all began when Her late Majesty Queen Anne appointed by Royal Warrant the President of the Society and nominees of its Council to be "the constant visitors" of the Observatory at Greenwich. Then in 1849 the Royal Society was invited to aid the Government with its advice and assistance on the appropriation and expenditure of a grant by the Government for the promotion of scientific inquiries. The point I want to emphasise is that the Royal Society was invited to do this, and accepted the invitation, retaining complete freedom of point of view. That method of administration and that freedom has been maintained right to this day. Of course, the grants have been very materially increased and have continued to be expended on scientific inquiry. It is, to my mind, most important and most heartening that, in spite of all thoughts in a contrary direction, the Government have continued to use this unofficial method—and again I emphasise, with complete freedom of approach—and have used the labours of the Royal Society, voluntary so far as the Fellows are concerned, and free from direct Government direction, so far as the Royal Society staff are involved. This, to my mind, is a valuable spreading of responsibility. Its effect is that the unrestricted wisdom of the Fellows, with their unique accumulated knowledge, is at the disposal of the Government.

A relatively recent example of this on a major scale is the National Physical Laboratory, brought into existence, as no doubt many of your Lordships know, at the beginning of this century. The Royal Society was then used, and has since been used, as an actual part of the executive machinery. Of course, there have been revisions in the method of organisation, and no doubt there will be further revisions. The place of the Royal Society as a key point has been maintained through the last sixty or so years, and was reaffirmed by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, when in April, 1956, he spoke as Lord President of the Council and said: It is our full intention to retain the present relationship between the Royal Society and the National Physical Laboratory, subject to discussion with the Royal Society of any changes of detail in these arrangements which may seem necessary from time to time. All these unofficial activities of the Royal Society are essentially made possible by an elaborate system of committees. I think there are something like 100 of them—a vision that in itself is a frightening one. Nevertheless, they have proved quick in action and effective in results. I have heard the Society likened to the nervous system of the body scientific in this country. It is a very sensitive machine and receives and sends out important information and responses to the whole structure of science. The most recent example of additional major activity was the administration of the British part of the 1957–58 International Geophysical Year. The Royal Society was given by Her Majesty's Government something of the order of £600,000 for the carrying out of the British section of this activity all over the world, including the Halley Bay Station in Antarctica, and, so far as I am aware, the efficiency of that organisation was acknowledged in a wholehearted appreciation.

In general, I would impress upon your Lordships that the support that Her Majesty's Government give to science is in considerable or at least appreciable, measure, and is made effective by the use of this voluntary organisation the Royal Society. One of the features of successful development in scientific matters is that there must be evident a spirit of enthusiasm. Experience has shown that the Royal Society can supply that spirit of enthusiasm, unstinted and sustained and with the minimum of red tape. That is a vital contribution by the Society.

The Fellows are under no compulsion to fall in with official ideas, and they are free to criticise. The non-Governmental position of the Society and the intellectual freedom are important characteristics of it, and within that freedom the contributions of the Fellows, through the Society's organisation, is a great and, I venture to think, a worthy one. I trust that the Minister for Science and, indeed, all the Government scientific machine will continue to use the energy—I believe the wise energy—and the great knowledge that the Fellows of the Royal Society have made available in the past and can equally willingly make available in the future.

6.2 p.m.


My Lords, I hope the noble Lord who has just resumed his seat will forgive me if I do not follow in the interesting observations which he has made, although I am sure that we have all been quite fascinated by his most lucid and interesting account of the work of the Royal Society and of the part which it plays in science in this country and, indeed, in world science. I believe it is the oldest institution of its kind in the world, and it is certainly one of the great institutions of this country.

I thought—and the noble Viscount who leads the House will forgive my saying so—that the sober appreciation of the work of the Royal Society given by the noble Lord, Lord Fleck, was in striking contrast to the rather exuberant sentimentality of the opening passages, at any rate, of the noble Viscount's speech. I confess that I much preferred the later part of it when he was dealing with facts. The noble Lord, Lord Fleck, said that science was in no danger of becoming complacent. I must say that during the earlier part of the noble Viscount's speech I felt that that was a danger which he was deliberately running himself into. We are proud of our science and the outstanding contributions which it has made to the discovery of scientific principles, and the honour in which it is held in the world. But we are in great danger if we allow informed criticism of the kind which has been taking place this afternoon, and in the scientific Press and, indeed, in the general Press over the last months and years, to count as denigration and to be dismissed in the offhand way in which the noble Viscount, I thought, tended to dismiss it.

The noble Viscount completely misjudged the conditions of scientists in the United States of America. The reason why they are coming over here to try to induce our best young men to go there is that science is so flourishing in the United States, and the number of Nobel Prizes which have been awarded to American scientists in the years since the end of the war has been remarkable. In the same way, it seems to me that the noble Viscount has completely misunderstood secondary education in America. He ought to know better, as he has a foot in that country. Many people who know a great deal about secondary education in America say that it takes a wider and more general grasp of what is required for the young people than our rather more specialised system in this country. At any rate, it is certainly not to be dismissed in the way in which the noble Viscount tended to dismiss it. True, he finished up by saying that he was not responsible for it, more or less indicating that he was not looking for the job of putting it right. As he runs about the country putting so many things right, one almost wonders whether he might not have offered to put that right too.

The main gap which I found in the noble Viscount's speech—and he may well have a technical answer to this—is that he hardly touched on the use of science and technology in industry, which has been underlined by later speakers and particularly by the noble Lord, Lord Todd, in his valuable contribution this afternoon. I can assure the noble Viscount that many of our leading scientists who are most closely in touch with industry do not share his general optimism about the situation. The noble Lord, Lord Todd, who we know is very closely in touch with industry, more or less indicated this afternoon that that was his view. I had the pleasure of spending a weekend at Cambridge only two or three weeks ago, and had the chance of speaking to a number of the most eminent scientists there, among them the Cavendish Professor and other scientists who are very much concerned with science in industry. I can assure the noble Viscount that they are far from satisfied with the situation.

I am assured that the real fact of the matter—and I think this is so from what I have seen of it myself—is that in wide areas of our industry the leaders do not have sufficient understanding of science and of its application to industry to make the best use of the scientific manpower which they have been attracting into industry, without knowing, how to use it, during the period since the end of the war. I was interested to find that the Cavendish Professor, who has a great deal of experience, was very much of that opinion. The turnover of scientists even in some of our biggest industrial engineering concerns is very large indeed. I was assured only the other day by a young man working in the scientific department of one of our biggest organisations, and who has been there only three years, that he was the last one who went in; there is not a single other one there now. That is very cogent evidence of this wastage of scientific manpower which is going on in industry at the present time, and which we have to find some method of putting right if we are going to make the sort of progress which the noble Viscount seems to think we are already making, which I very much doubt.

I have always been interested myself in visiting Germany and other important Continental industrial countries to find how high is the proportion of technologists and engineers on the boards of management of their big concerns. That is apart from quite a small number of concerns in this country such as Imperial Chemicals, who have always gone in for having outstanding scientists on their board. It is a comparatively rare thing in this country. It stands to reason that unless you have people on your top management who really appreciate how science works, you are not going to make the best use of scientists and technologists when you bring them into industry.

The debate this afternoon has touched continually on the problem of the flight of good scientific workers from this country, and particularly from our universities, to the United States and other places overseas. I should like to suggest that among the reasons for this is the chequered history of the salary negotiations during the post-war period. I have been mixed up in this, and perhaps I ought to declare an interest which I have mentioned before. For a number of years I have been actively engaged in the work of the Association of University Teachers, and I have been in all these salary negotiations over the last twelve years or so. Indeed, I have raised the question in this Chamber of the unfortunate situation which has been created by the application of the pay pause, to which I think the noble Viscount referred in an aside in the course of his speech. Claims had already been put in by the Association of University Teachers to the University Grants Committee before, and quite a long time before, the pay pause started.

Naturally, I do not want to go into the details of this again but the mass of university teachers undoubtedly feel that they were cheated on this occasion and there is no real sign that this frustration is, so to speak, wearing out. It is still very strongly felt and it is significant that more than one letter which I have seen during the last week or two since the Royal Society's Report was issued has referred to this particular episode as being, for a man who had been undecided, the determining factor in his finally deciding to accept a post in America that had been offered to him. This was the determining factor that brought him, so to speak, to decide to accept the post and go to the United States. The point is that so many people have become exasperated as a result of Treasury conduct in regard to this matter—and of Government conduct because the Government must accept responsibility for it—that it has brought them to a state of nerves and makes them take decisions which quite possibly they may regret afterwards.

This was just one episode in a long series of pin-pricks—or should I call them dagger thrusts, as that might be a more accurate phrase?—which have irritated and brought university people to a state of exasperation in which it is very difficult for them to approach in a properly calm state of mind these problems as to whether they should accept positions in America or elsewhere abroad. The Government have really made no effort to soothe them. Whatever they represent in the community—and university people think that they represent basic values—the Government no doubt say that they do not represent very many votes, and the Government have not concerned themselves with the views that these people hold in the sort of way they concern themselves with the views of a trade union which commands the votes of millions of voters; and that is a very unfortunate thing.

Even now, after the noble Viscount himself has assured us more than once that as soon as the pay pause was over the just demands (and I think he used the words "just demands") of the university people would be promptly dealt with, the Government have not carried out that promise. They have referred the new claim which was put in last year to the body called "Nicky"—in effect, taking it out of the hands of the University Grants Committee—and that means that all the paraphernalia of backwards and forwards discussions will have to go on again; a decision will take weeks longer and exasperation will increase. It is quite true that a provisional grant of 10 per cent. has been made, and no doubt up to a point the Government will feel that they have made a fairly generous gesture. But I can assure the noble Viscount that that has had very little effect from the point of view of removing the exasperation to which I have just referred, which is undoubtedly the sort of thing which causes people to decide to go away to America where the outlook of the universities in matters of this sort is very much more generous.

I think it is important to notice that this applies over the whole field of university work. It is not peculiar just to scientists. Indeed, as the noble Viscount will have seen, there is a very important letter from the Chairman of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors, Professor Mansfield Cooper, who is Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manchester, in The Times to-day strongly underlining that particular point, and, indeed, pointing out that the Americans are not only coming here looking for scientists but for eminent men in other fields of scholarship and activity. In my own knowledge as a law teacher in a university I know how very competent the Americans are at picking out the best men we have in order to offer them very highly paid chairs in their best universities.

However, I think it would be a very serious mistake to think of this matter only in the terms of money. University teachers are not just money grubbers, although naturally they are interested in their salaries and in having a reasonably good salary on which they can maintain the position in society which they claim is theirs. But they are proud people with a pretty good idea, possibly too good an idea, of the important place they have in the community and the importance of the work they are doing in the community and they object to being treated like a lot of office boys, which is very much the attitude the Treasury seem to take up with regard to them.

Prime Ministers, and, if I may say so, Lord Presidents, are happy and proud to accept the chancellorships of universities and to receive honorary degress from them. Therefore, they ought to take a great deal more care to see that university people are not pushed around in the way that has been going on over the last years in connection not only with the actual amounts of the salaries but with the way in which the awards, from time to time, when they have been made, have been implemented. One peculiarly irritating source of exasperation has been the delay over the awards; which naturally cannot be altogether avoided. But after that, instead of appreciating what this means and back-dating the awards, as occurs almost invariably when an industrial arbitrator makes an award, the Government have taken the opposite line and forward-dated them, so that although the claim might have been in for a minimum of twelve months, or in some cases for something like two years, the time from which the award will operate has, as on the last occasion, been fixed several months in advance. It is not really surprising if you find people in the universities feeling that they have, in effect, been cheated out of increments for twelve months or two years.

That is undoubtedly a very real source of grievance and exasperation and they feel they are being discriminated against in a thoroughly unjust way, because if the miners' federation or the engineers' union were treated in that way there would be a grave risk of them all going out on strike and of the Government having to face a very serious situation, which they know perfectly well they will not have to face when they behave in this way towards the people who work and teach in the universities. But I doubt very much whether this is a fundamental cause of this trouble, and I do not altogether agree with the noble Lord, Lord Todd, when he says that too much emphasis has been placed on conditions of work in America and in parts of the Commonwealth to which these people are going. I and a very large number of my colleagues feel that one of the basic reasons which attract our natural scientists and social scientists to the United States particularly is the admirable conditions of work which exist there.

During the inter-war years we went through a long period of stagnation in which very little was done in the way of building new laboratories. I remember that at one of our most important provincial universities one of the leading chemists in Europe was offered a chair and he went to see where he was expected to carry on his work. The laboratory was exactly as it had been before the First World War, and when he saw it he said, "I cannot work here" and went away. That, I think, was typical of the situation in almost all the provincial universities. It is true that a great deal has been done since the end of the last war to remedy that situation, and we are undoubtedly slowly making up. But this is not a high enough priority, and the laboratories are being built very slowly, and often by the time they are ready they are too small for the number of students now being accepted into the departments. I have seen that time after time as I have been round visiting universities.

The cost is very heavy and it is going to be very much heavier. One of the things this country has to face up to is spending a great deal more of its national income on the provision of education facilities and equipment. We must learn that we have got to put education before butter; and we have got to put education before guns, too, if we are to carry through the scientific development and industrial development we require in order to raise the standard of living in this country to a proper level. Too much is being allowed (and I am very glad to find the Government are at last awaking to this fact) to go into the erection of enormous office blocks in London and Manchester, and other big towns, when the materials and labour involved would be very much better put into the building and equipment of scientific laboratories.

Another point which I am quite sure is of very great importance (and it was referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Adrian) in inducing people to go away to America is the heaviness of the teaching burden. We expect our people not only to do fundamental research work but to spend anything from ten to fifteen hours a week teaching students, with all that that entails in the way of preparation for teaching. It just is not possible to carry on for many years in that way without running the risk of a breakdown. If a man has the opportunity of going to the States and of spending practically the whole time in a first-class laboratory, with very little onerous teaching responsibilities, pit is not to be wondered at that he should jump at the chance.

I think that perhaps the most serious thing which comes out of the Royal Society Report is the fact that we are now in danger of losing, I will not say the pre-eminent position, but the very high position, which we have for a very long time enjoyed in fundamental scientific work. It is all very well to refer to the Nobel Prizewinners. They are established men. They are not these young Ph.D.s we have been hearing about. In any case, 1962 was a very exceptional year. If the noble Viscount had gone back over the ten previous years he would not have found anything like that annus mirabilis.


My Lords, I did go back, and I pointed out that since the end of the war we had, I think, earned 20 Nobel Prizes, which was more than the total gained by any other country except America.


I am grateful to the noble Viscount: I must have missed that part of his speech. Certainly 1962 showed a very much higher number than any other year. If the noble Viscount takes away the four or five we got, then he would find the average was very much smaller. What the Royal Society Report shows is that we are now losing the young men, the Nobel Prizewinners of the future, and it is not easy to see how we are to keep them. I think it would be very well if those who really know about these things, people like the noble Lord, Lord Todd, and the noble Lord, Lord Adrian, would give a great deal of thought to this particular problem, because it is one of outstanding importance.

I should like to close by referring for a few minutes to the very unusual case in which efforts seem to be being made by the establishment to drive one of our most brilliant young scientists out of this country. I refer to the case of Dr. Denys Tucker. I appreciate that it would not be right to take a great deal of time over this case this evening. I hope that there will be an opportunity, when the Bill for reorganising the British Museum comes up, to say more about it. But it would be right, I think, in view of all this fuss about the scientists leaving, to refer to this case, which concerns a marine biologist of very great brilliance who was responsible, among other things, for a revolutionary new theory on the Atlantic eel migration. I need hardly emphasise the importance to this country, with its large and most important fishery industry, of problems of fish migration. This is the sort of problem on which Dr. Denys Tucker is one of the world's greatest authorities. I should like to quote what was said about Dr. Tucker's work by Professor Myers, the Professor at Stanford University in California who is thought by many people to be the leader in this branch of science in the world. He said: In my opinion Tucker is one of the most brilliant zoologists who has been connected with the Museum"— that is the British Museum, Natural History— in recent times. And his immediate superior in the Museum, at the time when he was dismissed, Dr. Ethelwyn Trewaras said: Most people who know him would agree that in intelligence he is to be classed with a few of our most brilliant colleagues. Dr. Tucker was employed in the British Museum, Natural History Section, as a scientific officer, and was therefore an established civil servant, and he was dismissed in July, 1960, as a result of a dispute which originated in the signing of the official diaries—which seems a storm in a teacup if it could possibly lead to the dismissal of a man with such brilliant attainments as Dr. Tucker. And not only was he dismissed, but he was actually forbidden to use the library of the Natural History Museum. That is, of course, a very serious thing indeed, because it is the only library of its kind in this country in which it is possible for the fundamental work which Dr. Tucker did in connection with eels to be done. It really means that this eminent man of science is cut off from the tools of his work.

I am interested that Professor Myers not long ago issued a statement referring to this additional penalty placed against Dr. Tucker, disbarment from the libraries and collections of the museum, in which he says: In America there are several large ichthyological collections and libraries. In Britain there is only one. I know a good deal about this situation, and I can personally attest that no man in Britain can successfully carry on the profession of systematic ichthyology without frequent recourse to the collections and library of the Natural History Museum. And yet, my Lords, this man has been debarred from going there to consult the books which are so necessary to him in his work. He has had no real opportunity of facing the charges which were made against him. I believe that he saw two of the Trustees for about ten minutes on one occasion, but he was rather given a talking to than had the case against him put to him.

I think that one of the things that we all like about the noble Viscount the Lord President is that he has a strong sense of justice, and I have personally found on a number of occasions that if he feels that an injustice has possibly been done he is prepared to go to a lot of trouble to try to have it put right. I remember bringing to his notice, when he was Minister of Education, a very small case in Somerset in connection with a local education committee where a mistake had been made. He took a great deal of personal trouble to go into it, and as a result the situation was put right. I believe that the case of Dr. Tucker has been brought to his attention, and I hope that he will decide to appoint a completely independent Commissioner to inquire into it and to report to him, so that what, at any rate on the face of it, appears to have been an injustice will be effectively investigated; and if, in fact, it is found that an injustice has been done, that it may be put right.

This is a case where a man of considerable eminence, who wants to stay in England and to work here, is, in effect, being driven out. It is most interesting to find that when Dr. Myers went to visit the National History Gallery, he had a strong impression there that they were in fact trying to force him out of Britain. These are his own words: I was not sure that Tucker's debarment was really intended to force him out of Britain, until I talked with the Director. He assured me that he was perfectly aware of the difficulty now facing Tucker, and asked me if I could not help him to find an overseas post! I see no escape from the conclusion that the Museum authorities are attempting to force Tucker to leave his own country … My Lords, that is an extraordinary situation. Dr. Tucker has in fact been offered, I believe on more than one occasion, a Chair in an American university; but he wants to stay in this country and to work here. In my view, his case ought to be properly investigated, and if it is found that an injustice has been done he should be reinstated. In any event, he ought to be allowed to use the library which contains the tools of his work. I hope that the noble Viscount will have a look at this case, and that he will be able to come to some conclusion about it.

6.32 p.m.


My Lords, one of the great advantages of a debate of this sort in your Lordships' House is the galaxy of talent that it draws. The only trouble is that it makes somebody like myself pretty diffident about getting on to his feet at all. However, I have done it, and I shall, for quite a short time, talk about the second part of the Motion. I wish to take the expression "scientist" in its widest term as including engineers, technologists, metallurgists, chemists and everyone who has a scientific training leading to a degree or a certificate—those who are generally called "technologists".

A short time ago a Member of your Lordships' House, a kinsman of mine, a Minister and a great friend, confessed to me that he did not know the difference between a plumber and an engineer. He is not alone in that, because it is on record in regard to an eminent scientist who appeared before a high-level Committee at the Treasury, that the chairman, a Treasury man, said that he could not understand why this scientist was so insistent upon "engineer", because, he said, after all engineers were only tram drivers. There are two high-level men who have somewhat quaint ideas. I think that it is true that in trade union terminology a tram driver and a plumber are classed as engineers because both may be members of the Engineering Union. Whether or not there is anything in that, I do not know, but certainly there is considerable confusion on the point.

I should like to congratulate the Lord President on the work that he and his Department have done in advancing science and scientific research in Government Departments. I have some idea of the difficulty that he has encountered, and while without stint I should like to give him praise, I would add, "So far, so good. But we expect a great deal more in the future." And, my Lords, a great deal more is necessary. It seems to me that the Service Ministries lead the way in science in the world of Government. Some of the other Ministries, although they are improving, are lagging behind—that is probably quite obvious. I would say that there are great signs of an improvement in the thinking of the Ministry of Transport. We have only to compare the Chiswick Fly-over with the Hammersmith Fly-over, or the Staines Bridge with the Medway Bridge, to find quite a different approach and type of thinking, one greatly in advance, technically anyway, of the other. I think that is all to the good.

Nevertheless, there are instances the other way. When I am going home tonight I shall find—and I have no doubt that it will annoy me just as much as it always does—that at Kings Cross mailbags are being loaded in exactly the same way as they were in 1880. It transgresses every single principle of work methods, work study; and yet nobody does anything about it. The simple provision of a wire mesh hamper on castors, and a light aluminium ramp to make up the difference between the wagon and the platform would mean that a basket of mail bags could be shifted in and shifted out at the other end, cutting out five stages of handling at both ends. But nobody will look at it. I put this point forward as something that should be looked into. I am well aware of the fact that the gestation period of an idea from your Lordships' House is about ten years. Nevertheless, I think it is still worth putting.

I think there is a lack of appreciation of the scientist by the public; but I also believe that there is a lack of appreciation by many scientists of the public. Some scientists do not seem to appreciate the problems. Some see them only from the scientific angle, and not, I would venture to suggest, in the same way as the man in the street sees his own problems. It has been said (I do not know with what truth) that in some branches of science, and particularly in physics, the best work of the scientist is done before or at about the age of 26. If that is so—and it clearly is so in a number of cases—I should have thought that that was the time to take that scientist and to train him in administration, public relations and management. An untrained scientist getting one of these jobs can be a menace; but if he is trained he is, I venture to suggest, a most remarkably valuable man. Suitably trained men ought to be able to get right to the top of administrative jobs in industry and in Government.

Referring to the research problems in particular, I think there are three main branches in research. There is fundamental research, which is the pure research to which the noble Viscount the Lord President referred. I entirely agree with the explanation he gave, but I was rather worried about his first definition. Then there is the research of the gap between fundamental and applied research. This second branch is largely done by Government establishments. Then there is the ordinary applied research, which is done by private firms and by research associations in industry. There is no watertight compartment, and to a certain extent I think there is an overlapping in all these things, which is all to the good. But I would say, quite definitely, that with the possible exception of fundamental research, which is in a pure class of its own, the end product of research is to improve the competitive position of our industry vis-à-vis our competitors; otherwise I see no reason for research. I think that if one does not admit that one gets into certain difficulties.

Her Majesty's Government, of course, recoup their expenditure through taxation. There appears to be a good deal of difficulty in getting industry to adopt ideas developed by Government establishments. For example, the Mechanical Engineering Research Institute developed a process in regard to the working of metals, which received a good deal of publicity, and the result was 2 inquiries from United Kingdom firms and 40 inquiries from the United States. I think that one of the difficulties probably lies in the lack of knowledge in the research institutes as to the economic aspects of their various developments. I would suggest that it would be worth considering a scheme of insurance against loss through the adoption of some of these new methods, with a generous pay-back to Her Majesty's Government if the process proved successful. That might possibly induce industry to be a little more forthcoming. I do not know whether that would be practicable; I merely put it forward as an idea. Moreover, when new techniques are installed, I wonder whether the engineers responsible for the new equipment spend long enough in the factories after installation to overcome "teething" problems. I also wonder whether sufficient importance is given to the humble "suggestion box" which most firms have. Many good ideas come from the operatives and they might even form the basis for a certain amount of research. I think that this is a possibility.

The noble Lord, Lord Todd, made some very interesting remarks on the problem of scientists going to America. He pointed to the biological aspect, although not, I think, as a subject for research in the future. But I would point out to him that the lasses in Scotland are just as bonny as those in America—and some of us Scotsmen have even come over and collared one from England and taken her back home. Well, it has a settling effect; and I should like to see investigated the possibilities of, perhaps, a marriage allowance or some other method whereby a young man who wishes to marry can get more money when he needs it most. I think the present trend that the older you get the more money you receive, does not meet the need here. I would much rather see these young men get a "wallop" now and nothing more for five years or so, in order to see them over their early days of marriage. I believe that would have quite a stabilising effect. If the scientist wanted to go abroad his wife would not let him, and I think a method of this sort might keep some of them at home. This point has been fully gone into by the noble Lord, Lord Todd.

I have seen Press reports of a committee which goes to America in order to coax back scientists and which has had a certain amount of success in doing so. It is said that it costs £400 to get a scientist back, and they are said to get about sixty of them to return a year. Whether that is true or not I do not know, but the Press reports also go on to ask whether it would not be better to keep them here by paying them the extra £400. I think that is entirely false. First of all, I do not think that it would keep them here, and, secondly, it has no regard to the value of the cross- fertilisation which occurs and which I think is a very important point in relation to people going overseas to get further experience.

I should like now to mention the status of the engineer. Not so long ago it used to be said that engineers were not the kind of people who joined one's club. I would put it exactly the other way: unfortunately, the people who join my clubs are not engineers. I think that gives a very much truer picture of the position.


My Lords, may I follow up this point? What clubs do engineers join? Are there engineers' clubs?


The Athenæum.


St. Stephen's.


I do not know about the other one, but St. Stephen's is one. To underline that, when some time ago I was a student at the Royal School of Mining in South Kensington there was only one other public school boy there. The Lord President will admit that there are plenty of brains to be found in the public schools. Why are not more of them encouraged—perhaps they are, and I hope I shall be told this is the case—to go into technology and engineering? I would say that when the headmaster of Eton is an eminent scientist, science will have arrived.

6.45 p.m.


My Lords, the hour grows late and I will say what I have to say as briefly as I can. I agree very substantially with everything the noble and learned Viscount has said on the subject of emigration and immigration. If I add to it, he has provided me with the excuse that it is the obvious that needs emphasising in these days. Why do the Americans speak English?—because there has been a one-way westward drift of English-speaking peoples from these Islands since before the days of the Pilgrim Fathers, and it continues. To judge by the treatment the Royal Society's Report had in the popular Press you might suppose that nobody ever went to America unless he was a scientist. But we cannot expect the scientific profession to be immune from this tendency to drift westward. Maybe it is a sort of inbuilt Volkswanderung instinct, following the sunset. Sometimes it is for positive reasons: the emigrants seek adventure; sometimes for negative reasons; they are fed up with conditions at home. But it has been going on, and will go on.

Since these Islands are small and overcrowded, I do not know what we should be doing to-day if it had not gone on in the past. It has somewhat accelerated in the scientific field but I do not propose to deplore it or get into a panic. In the honeymoon phase of computer development, when many young electronic engineers were crossing the Atlantic in both directions, I noticed that when our young engineers came back from America, where they had been working on a development contract or on a joint enterprise, they returned with a robust faith in individual enterprise and the value of the individual, coupled with an equally robust determination to see proper anti-trust and anti-monopoly legislation accompanying a private enterprise economy. I could not help feeling that their sojourn in the United States had been of real benefit to them. As has been said often, science is international. If Nils Bohr had not gone and worked first under Max Planck and then come over here and worked under Rutherford, there would never have been a quantum theory as we know it to-day, or it would have had to be left to a later generation to discover it.

There is a small credit on the Ph.D. side which my noble friend did not mention, but I think it worth drawing attention to, because it involves the historical origins of the Ph.D. degree. The historical doctorate in science was a D.Sc., which involved the same degree of eminence in one's profession as an LL.D. or any other of the main doctorates. After the First War American students crossed the Atlantic in large numbers to get doctorates in Germany. These were not up to the standard of a D.Sc. in this country—and the Ph.D. degree was introduced here in order to tempt American students to come and do their post-graduate courses here, rather than in Germany or elsewhere. The reason for the introduction of this degree is still perpetuated in the very large number of foreign students who, having graduated at one point, come over to take their Ph.D. degrees here. While the debate was continuing, I cast my mind over the foreign Ph.D.'s in British employment that I could remember having seen in the last month or two. I certainly remember one Chinese, one Egyptian and one Pakistani who came over here, took their Ph.D.s, and are employed in British industry today. I no more know what will happen to them in ten years' time than I know what will happen in ten years' time to the British Ph.D.s who have gone to America. I merely say that it is part of the credit side of the flow, and ought not to be forgotten.

I have always thought it very important not to do the right thing for the wrong reason, because, if one does, one's sense of purpose will waver and fluctuate with ever-changing circumstances, irrelevant to the true purpose for which one should be acting. If you try to create opportunities for young men, to stop them emigrating to America, your purpose in doing this will waver and fluctuate with the emigration statistics. The real reason for making opportunities for young men is that it is the right thing to do anyway. We want Britain to be a land of opportunity for the young. If we bend our eyes on that, no doubt this flow Westward will to some extent staunch itself as a byproduct of having the right motive for doing what is right. I do not believe very much in the cash side of the incentive which tempts them across: I think they go for experience very largely. They also go for the adventure.

On the negative side, I think the factors which may perhaps make them fed up with this country and want to move out are, to some extent, connected more with questions of morale than with anything else. Whether you run a factory, or a battalion, or a battleship, morale is something which should be the care of the man at the top. If he is seen by everybody underneath him to be a man of high purpose, dedicated to what he is doing, and if what he is doing has general support, then morale will flow downwards from him and permeate the organisation. People at working levels want to feel that their leaders are men of purpose and resolution, who conduct their business with expedition and dispatch. Shilly-shally at any level between the working level and the top is corrosive of morale.

I have no doubt that the noble and learned Viscount, in his own person, has all the qualities to act as a leader and provide morale underneath him. But between him and what I might call his client laboratories there comes a very large administrative machine; and this machine sometimes creaks. Sometimes it creaks very badly. Sometimes it seems to be trying to compress the maximum of silliness into the minimum of progress. Exaggerated stories of what goes on get around, and these are corrosive of morale. I believe that my noble friend has a part to play in this personally, by acting as a sort of long-stop to see that the machine works; to go looking for trouble rather than waiting for it to break out at the trouble points where it is likely to arise.

I should like to draw attention to two matters in this Report, where I think a good diagnostician could predict that trouble would be likely to occur. The Report deals among other things with science libraries. In South Kensington there are two science libraries. One is the College library of the Imperial College, and the other is the Science Museum library. You might well ask, my Lords: why do we have two libraries on closely contiguous sites? The answer is simply that the libraries have different characteristics. The Imperial College library is a students' library on open shelves; the Science Museum library is a public reference library. The plans for the demolition of some of the Imperial College premises, and their reconstruction elsewhere, involve the demolition by the College authorities of the Science Museum library. Here you have a situation where a semi-autonomous body, financed by the University Grants Committee, proposes to demolish a public building the property of the Ministry of Education. This is precisely the sort of situation in which indecision and a failure to take any kind of action at all can only too easily arise. If my noble friend could act as a sort of long-stop in cases of this kind, and see that, whatever is decided, somebody decides something, he would be making a great contribution to the morale of the scientific community.

The other topic referred to in the Report is the Natural History Museum. This occurs in the Report under the general reference to the legislation now before Parliament to hive off the Natural History Museum from the British Museum, and make it a separate entity. I should have preferred to see this matter dealt with under the lengthy section of the Report dealing with biological matters, because I think your Lordships are probably under the Impression that the Natural History Museum is a museum. You go into it, you see a large stuffed elephant—a triumph of the taxidermist's art—and you wander round a few galleries with other stuffed animals in them. You go home again suitably impressed with the variety of the animal and vegetable kingdom. But that is probably only about 20 per cent. of what the Natural History Museum actually does. It is, in fact, a great Commonwealth centre of taxonomic and field research. In the taxonomic sense it does not really belong to the species "museum" at all: it should rather be treated as a research centre.

This is the sort of work it does. When an unidentified pest attacks a British crop, or a crop in India or wherever it may be, the pests are sent to the Natural History Museum for identification. Even the skin of the abominable snowman, I believe, was sent there on one occasion.


And it was identified.


It was identified as some kind of bear, I believe. Does anyone wish to synthesise diamonds? He would have been unable to do so until comparatively recently, when a piece of research by the Natural History Museum showed that there were diamonds in iron-nickel meteorites. The Natural History Museum has the most representative collection of meteorites in the world. Seventy per cent. or more of all the meteorites that have ever been collected after striking the earth are represented there. They showed that there were diamonds in nickel-iron meteorites. This led to the discovery that nickel is a catalyst for the synthesis of diamonds. Whether or not this will ever be an industrial process, I do not know. But this is the sort of research that goes on at the Natural History Museum.

The custody of all its specimens is a never-ending task in an expanding field, and it needs new buildings progressively and regularly. Its expansion has long overtaken its building programme, and it badly needs between £1½ million and £2 million worth of new buildings. Because it is classified as a museum, it has to be accommodated within the tiny budget available for museum building, and if this proposal were to be taken seriously it would be like putting a very large man into a very small coracle. This again, I hope, is something that my noble friend will take under his wing, to see that the Natural History Museum is properly classified as a research centre with a museum attached; much as the Geological Museum next door is attached to a branch of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research: the Geological Survey.

I do not quite know why the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, chose this debate to bring in the question of Dr. Tucker. I can only say that if anyone believes, as appeared to me to be implied, that the present Director of the Natural History Museum, Dr. Morrison-Scott, is trying to run an ex-member of the staff of the museum out of this country, then, in the words of the Duke of Wellington, "If he'll believe that, he'll believe anything".


Hear, hear!


If Dr. Morrison-Scott is to be attacked, he will find a ready defender in myself. I am only too willing to testify before any committee that may be set up that, to my knowledge, this situation was, as it were, in full hue and cry before Dr. Morrison-Scott ever became Director of the museum.

There is only one other matter, my Lords, and then I shall come to an end. The noble Lord, Lord Adrian, drew attention to a quotation from the Report establishing that there is a difference of .2 of 1 per cent. (the nearest we can estimate it) between the percentage of the gross national product spent on science in this country and that spent in America. Now .2 of 1 per cent. of our gross national product, as I have pointed out before in earlier debates, is itself quite a large sum. It is roughly £50 million; and I do believe again that the noble and learned Viscount has an important part to play in trying to get proposals for expenditure seen against this penumbra of £50 million, which represents what we might be spending if we were spending at the same rate as the Americans in proportion to our facilities for so doing.

On the television the other evening Professor Pippard drew attention to the deteriorating morale in laboratories which comes from delays in getting apparatus. Somebody discovers something new, and he immediately wants a new piece of apparatus to follow this up. It may take him six months to get his order through the Scientific Grants Committee of D.S.I.R., and then perhaps another six months to order the apparatus. A year has gone by, and half of his enthusiasm has evaporated before he can get on with the work. He pleaded over the television—and I would reinforce his plea—that there should be some sort of discretionary fund placed at the disposal of the universities, subject to audit and inspection subsequently, which would enable them to draw funds rapidly for the purpose of responding rapidly to new ideas. Blessed is he who gives: thrice blessed is he who gives quickly". This is very true of response from science to the only source from which it can draw funds.

My Lords, I sometimes believe that our thinking is still faintly conditioned by the Elizabethan Poor Law. You could receive public money only if you were the deserving poor; and if it came too easily and too quickly, you rapidly ceased to be deserving. What we spend on science has got to be thought of as an investment; and there is a very big difference in the attitude of businessmen to spending in what one might call a spending department and their attitude to spending on the capital front. Everybody is in favour of cutting down expenditure in revenue departments, but when you have decided that capital expenditure is the right thing to incur, you then incur it as smoothly, as quickly and as resolutely as possible; because going through it in one smooth operation is cheaper, and the sooner you get it finished the sooner you get a return for your expenditure. That is a plea which I have made in your Lordships' House many times before, and I offer no apology for making it again.

7.4 p.m.


My Lords, I am what the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, calls one of the deserving poor. Thus I must at once declare an interest, inasmuch as I receive a small grant from the noble and learned Viscount, though I do not know whether he knew it. I do not receive it personally, let me say: I receive it for my research assistant, and your Lordships will find it listed in the list of grants so kindly given out by the Medical Research Council.

My Lords, this debate has had some constitutional interest. It has not perhaps been of great constitutional importance, but it has introduced a novelty which I think was a very good novelty. It is, of course, quite usual for a noble Lord, when he has produced a Report on some ad hoc subject as chairman of a Committee, to take part in the debate subsequently in your Lordships' House; but it is unusual for a noble Lord who is a continuing adviser, and whose Report is one of a series, to speak, as the noble Lord, Lord Todd, has spoken. I think it is an excellent thing, a very good thing indeed, that we should have this liberty; and, if I may say so, I thought he supported everything my noble friend Lord Shackleton said, and perhaps, by implication, implied a little criticism of some of the things the Government have done. But he did it so nicely that I do not think anybody could take offence; and I feel that this is a very good and very satisfactory thing to have happened.

I always enjoy the noble and learned Viscount, but I never quite know whether he expects us to take absolutely seriously some of the things he says—for he sometimes says some very surprising things. He referred, for example, to "the increasingly neurotic and humourless Britain". I think that there he was speaking metaphorically and as a politician and not as a scientist, because I do not think there is any real evidence that the incidence of neurosis has been increasing over the years. If there is, I shall be delighted to have it. It is a very difficult thing to study technically, and I have spent some of his money studying it, but we have not found any evidence of an increase of neurosis over the years.


My Lords, I think the noble Lord has overlooked that what I said was, "of which all of us somehow unaccountably form part". Of course, if we are all part of it, we shall never be able to see it in others.


The next thing he mentioned was the national neurosis of pessimism. I can understand the noble Viscount, as a politician, feeling a little pessimistic at times, but we are not like that: we are on the up and up. I do not think he should feel that we are running down British science. We are thinking that, in spite of everything, British science has not done so badly, and that it would be quite wrong to denigrate what has been achieved. If we criticise, it is not that we are running down all the good things that have been done, but simply that we are saying there is plenty more to be done.

The noble Viscount, Lord Stonehaven, said, very rightly, that the gestation period of a suggestion in your Lordships' House is usually ten years. I well recollect making a number of suggestions on November 9, 1959, when the noble and learned Viscount made his first speech as Minister for Science. That is only three years, so I ought not to be disappointed: I have another seven years to wait before I get the things that I asked for then. But I should have liked to have a little more; and I feel that perhaps he may find that some suggestions were not so silly after all.

Now, looking at the picture which has been displayed before your Lordships this evening, there are two real themes running through the debate. They are: what is the best machinery for getting research going on a bigger scale? Is it to be within the universities, or in special research institutes financed by research councils, or in other ways? This was really the theme which the noble Lord, Lord Adrian, was putting before us, when saying quite clearly (and, as I know, correctly) that the Russians have solved this particular problem by building an enormous number of research institutes and doing less within the universities. We have, of course, tried to do a great deal within the universities, and we have done a great deal within the universities. But we should be doing a great deal more still; and one wonders why we are not. It has been part of my job over the past year to try to find out why we were not doing more. May I give an instance of the sort of thing that happens? The Medical Research Council, quite rightly, establishes in a university a unit for research in some particular subject. After a while, the Medical Research Council decides that this has become an established discipline, and would like it to be taken over by a university; and arrangements are made accordingly. But there is no way by which the University Grants Committee can earmark a portion of money so that it definitely takes over the research unit as the M.R.C. drops out.

I have overstated the position a little. It is not quite so crude as that. But it is the sort of difficulty occurring all the time. It is impossible for the University Grants Committee to guarantee that money it gives for a particular purpose, or with a particular purpose in mind, will be used for that particular purpose. Indeed, it is not quite clear that it should guarantee for that purpose; yet the need is there. I have thought about this in connection with psychiatry, which is a very much under-financed section of research.

I asked the noble and learned Viscount, not long ago, how much we spent on psychiatry in this country, and he gave me the M.R.C. figures—these are not the total of course. But he is spending £247,000 a year on psychiatric research, compared with £63,000 five years ago. This is not a bad advance. But we are spending over £100 million straight out of the National Health Service on psychiatric beds. I have tried to find out from prudent industrialists what they spend on research in relation to their turnover. This figure is not easy to ascertain: it varies from industry to industry, and it includes development research and pure research. But in the nearest analogy to psychiatry, which I suppose is chemistry and electronics, the proportion is something about 5 per cent., of which 1 per cent. is pure research and 4 per cent. applied research and development research.

Some of your Lordships may feel that this is an unfair figure to take. But at that rate we may be thought, if we were prudent people, to be expending 5 per cent. of our national turnover on mental illness on research, but we are, in fact, spending, instead of £5 million, something between a quarter and a half million pounds, and that is making a generous allowance for university expenditure. I should, of course, like to see us spending more, but the difficulty is, how to inject it in the system. I have concluded that the easiest way to do so is to create double professorships—to have two professorships in each department where research is very actively required and where a lot of teaching is needed, particularly in clinical and medical teaching. In a double professorship one would be primarily a clinical teacher and the other primarily a researcher. This works very well indeed in medicine in University College where they have that system. They have Professor Rosenheim as Professor of Medicine and Professor Dent as a research professor who is called the Professor of Human Metabolism. This is the only way to get psychiatric research going quickly—to have these two Chairs in our universities.

A professor at the present time is in a very difficult position when it comes to undertaking research, because he has so much work to do, particularly if he is a clinical medical professor, when he must devote seven-elevenths of his time to clinical work in order to qualify for a merit award. This is very strange, but it is so. A professor now spends a great deal of his time writing applications for grants from charitable bodies and vetting other people's applications for grants. There is very little time left for the clinical professor of psychiatry, for example, to do research. So the research does not get done.

The creation of these Chairs will be chicken-feed in terms of the list of things the noble and learned Viscount gave us—those atomic developments. I reckon that we could get all the psychiatric research we need in this country inside the universities for £1 million a year over and above what we are spending now. I was very glad indeed when the noble Lord, Lord Todd, emphasised the excessive share that the atomic physicists have got out of the kitty and the ease with which they have obtained this large expenditure—and we all know why. It is not right or wise that we cannot spend more of our money on biological sciences, oceanography and the like, but certainly on medical biological science, of which I think psychiatry is probably the most important and is developing at a remarkable speed at the moment.

Before I make any criticism of the Medical Research Council, I must say what a good job they have done and are doing. They are a very good organisation—I have said this before and I will say it again. However, they have a theory which I believe is attractive to the Trend Committee. I know that the Trend Committee is engaged on some subject, but that should not make it sub judice as far as we are concerned; we should certainly say what we think about the organisation of science within the Government, for the benefit of the Trend Committee. In that regard I am sure the noble and learned Viscount will feel the same way. The theory that the M.R.C. frequently adumbrate is that you should wait until a really good person comes along and then back him to the full. If they decide to back him they give him lots of freedom and do not worry about requesting frequent reports. As a result, they back a very high proportion of winners. But a great many people do not get backed and a good many potential winners are lost.

I used to sit on a body which was called the Mental Health Research Fund Research Committee. Our job was to dish out in grants for mental health research such money as we could collect from the public. Over the years, the situation grew worse until we were able—we were a group of psychiatrists, biochemists and so on, meeting round a table—to approve grants to only one in four. We turned down three out of four grants because of the lack of cash. This amply disproves the contention made by the M.R.C. that there are not the people available. In half the cases this argument advanced by Government grant organisations is not true. It is an excuse for not being up and doing.

The M.R.C. has in the past wound up some units. They have looked around to see whether they could find a director and if they have not found the person who suits them they have shut the unit up. If industry did that, it would come to a standstill. In industry one advertises and sees what is available. The people are available. I had a letter from a friend of mine which said: We recently advertised in Nature for an organic or bio-chemist interested in working on a Fellowship in the chemistry of mental illness. This is from a man who is a very good medical bio-chemist, working on schizophrenia. He continues: We were surprised to get no less than fourteen replies of which seven were of good calibre and included four Ph.Ds. This would seem to be substantial evidence in favour of there being no shortage of good men wanting to make a career in psychiatric research, and a shortage of good posts for them to do so.

This drift to America—the "brain drain"—and all the things we have heard are true. It is a good thing to go to America when you are a young Ph.D. and work there. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Todd, that it is a pity that more do not go to Germany and France, but in so many subjects the best place to go is America. Certainly in the majority of branches of medicine, it is the best bet. I can think of one or two places in Scandinavia where these men might want to go, too, but going to America is naturally an attractive thing. I am not so concerned with the fellow who has just got his Ph.D. or who is doing his first three years' research. It is at the end of the first three years of research that the difficulty arises, when there are no posts here. It is all right where there are grants for basic research, and the M.R.C. and the D.S.I.R. are generous in grants for initial research, but for those making their careers in biological or psychiatric research there is great difficulty and, except for a relatively few posts in the universities, there are not the research posts available, unless a man is especially fortunate and able to establish something like an M.R.C. unit.

If people go to America and do research under good conditions, that does not seem to be a bad thing at all. In fact, the noble and learned Viscount stressed this very point before, when on a different tack. To-day, he is saying that these people are wrong and unpatriotic to go. Then, he said that it did not really damage the sum total of human knowledge, if they went and did their work there. I agree with that. But what is serious is that we are thereby losing an increasing number of people whom we shall be urgently needing if we are to go on with teaching, as we have to do in the years immediately ahead, without a serious reduction in university research. The noble Lord, Lord Adrian, referred to this point and I entirely agree with him. When we have to face those of the "bulge" in the birth rate coming up to university level, we are going to have a tremendous demand for university teaching—and this carries with it a grave danger to university research—unless we make very substantial arrangements for keeping these people here. It is that loss which I think is a serious one, and that is why we ought to be more careful about it.

I want to say one thing about the question of Research Councils. In their Report, the Royal Society talk about the biological research council and there was reference to the Slater Sub-Committee (I think it was) which had to report to the noble Lord, Lord Todd, on the question of a research council on natural resources. There has been talk about a research council on social studies, and a few days ago I was advocating a psychiatric research council. The noble Lord, Lord Adrian, has shrewdly said that we shall not multiply research by multiplying research councils. That is true, if they are advisory councils. But if they are councils handing out money and establishing units, professorships and institutes, then we shall multiply research by multiplying councils. That is why M.R.C. and A.R.C. have been so good. I would welcome the creation of a whole series of research councils under the Minister for Science. The noble and learned Viscount should be more tolerant, more open-minded and ready to think these problems through.

I can think of fifty arguments which he can advance against me—and they would still be wrong. The manifest argument is that there would be overlapping. Of course there would be overlapping, and there is overlapping now. The next argument is that it would be uneconomical. Of course it would be uneconomical, but the only way to get more research is to spend more money, and inevitably there is going to be some waste; we cannot avoid waste if we are going to get plenty of research going, because we cannot tell what is going to come out of a piece of research.

The noble and learned Viscount referred to chromosomes; that chromosome research was made possible by a chance discovery in America. A couple of men who were working on leukæmia, using a substance called "phyto-aglutinin" to clump together the red cells in the blood to see the leukæmic white cells, found, to their amazement, that normal white cells were showing cell division and that it was thereby perfectly possible to see normal chromosomes without making tissue cultures in a drop of blood. The result has been an absolute flood of discoveries about abnormal human brains and general metabolism associated with chromosome abnormalities. All this was found quite by chance three years ago. So one cannot predict what we can find by research. And by increasing the volume of research intelligently, we can get more good results. Of course, I do not urge for one moment that we should spend £300 million a year, which is equivalent to what the Americans spend, on medical research. Reducing it by the factor of eight, which the noble and learned Viscount favours, to bring it to the proportion of our gross national production, that would mean that we should be spending £40 million a year on medical research. But I do not advocate even £40 million. I just think that we are spending about half what we ought to be spending, and in psychiatry we are spending one-quarter of what we should be profitably spending and which we must spend if we are going to stop these lads from going away when we shall need them.

There is plenty to be done and I hope that the noble and learned Viscount, for whatever period remains to him in his present post, will continue to apply himself vigorously, as he has always done, but also in a broad-minded way, to the possibility that there may be other ways of doing things than those which are being pursued now. I have made a few suggestions as to how it might be done. I think that we should all like to say how very pleased we are that the noble and learned Viscount initiated this debate, in his vigorous and lively way, and how much we have appreciated the contributions of all the noble Lords who have spoken. My noble friend Lord Shackleton and I have been delighted with the way this debate has gone, and we are very pleased indeed at the work of the Advisory Council, although I think that we should both like to see the production of its Report a little improved physically, as a technical production. We hope that the Council may be geared increasingly into the machinery of civil Government in future.

7.30 p.m.


My Lords, I do not want to spend a great deal of time replying to what has been a very interesting debate. I do not believe that I could do so, because I have now managed to get my notes into an indescribable muddle, as I was trying a new system of organisation. Attempting to be broad-minded and tolerant, as I was invited to be by my noble friend, I put my notes in the order of subject rather than of speaker, and it has not proved at all a success.

First of all, I should like to say how glad I was that the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, welcomed the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Todd, from the Cross-Benches. Of course, it exercised my mind a good deal, as Leader of the House, as to how we could make best use of the noble Lord, Lord Todd, now that we are lucky enough to have him among us, because there are quite a number of serious rules about people who hold official positions which might have been thought to inhibit him. I thought I would say to the House that I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, that, if this is an innovation, it is an excellent one. The noble Lord is not spending Government money directly and does not come within the so-called Addison rules; he is not, as some of your Lordships are, in the permanent service of the Crown, and therefore he is not inhibited by that set of rules. I think we gain enormously by having the noble Lord here. Incidentally, if he had not been a Peer he would not have been disqualified by his official position from standing for the House of Commons. So I feel we are not even encroaching upon the prerogatives of another place.

On the general lines which the debate has taken, I should like to say one or two things about the speeches which have been made. The noble Lord, Lord Taylor, is, of course, an enthusiast, and so, I hope am I, but I would ask him to believe me that over the last six years in which I have been responsible for civil science, for three of which I have been responsible as Minister for Science, I have really thought through this subject carefully, and I have had some of the best tutors it is possible to have in this field, both among those who hold official positions in the Government heirarchy of science and those who gave me advice from outside.

I felt originally that I should not have a number of inquiries into Government organisation and into science, because I considered it would inhibit growth. I believe it was right to take that view. But round about the time when the Slater Committee and the Trend Committee came to be appointed—and they were appointed either with my co-operation or at my initiative in each case—I came to the conclusion that growth had reached the point at which, if an improvement of a fairly substantial nature in organisation were not made, it would become distorted. Although the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, was perfectly right in thinking that he should not be restrained in any way by the pendency of the Reports of those Committees from expressing his own opinion, I think I should be, up to a point, restrained from expressing mine until those Committees have reported.

The method of organising research when it is financed by Government funds—which, after all, is the business I am in—is not as easy as it looks. I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, that not very much advance is to be made by comparing it to a percentage turnover in a business. The Medical Research Council, which, as the noble Lord rightly says, helps to finance his excellent activities, knows its job about that. It is almost impossible to administer research unless you lay down that a desirable project not only must be one which seeks to meet a human need, but also must be one which is to be worked on by a first-class mind and in respect of which there is a promising lead. If you do not stick to that as a principle, you lose any kind of ability to control the subject. This is what the Research Councils are about.

I would absolutely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, that of course you do not want the Medical Research Council, for example, or the D.S.I.R., to be the sole repository of all wisdom in this respect. This is why I sometimes feel a little irritated when professors who want money for research complain that they have to go to all these charitable foundations. The truth is, as was pointed out in a most valuable and well-written article in the Medical Research Council's Report this year, that the multiplication of sources of research is the guarantee of the independence of science from Government monopoly, even when the Government monopoly is as well run as I believe medical research is run by the Medical Research Council.


My Lords, may I take up the noble Viscount on that important point? What he said is absolutely true with regard to grants for junior posts up to, say, the first three years of a research worker's life. The difficulty arises with regard to the foundations when it becomes a question of founding readerships or professorships: because, in order to found a readership or a professorship, it is necessary to hand to a university £100,000 or more as a permanent endowment. This is just not available from foundations and can come only from Government sources.


I was coming to that point, which I think arises in a slightly different form particularly connection with the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Adrian. The only point I wanted to make is that although it may, or may not, be true that these various Committees when they emerge to the light of day yield one or more new research councils (I do not want to prejudge the issue), the rather optimistic picture which the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, was pointing to of a range of research councils all doling out public monies for research is not one which can hope to have any substantial support, whatever these Committees report, because the great difficulty in the work which I have to do is really to reduce to some kind of coherence a subject of almost infinite variety. I am at the same time responsible for scientists looking after the red deer in the Island of Rhum and the proton synchrotron at Harwell. One has to reduce this to some kind of coherence without over-simplifying it. This is the problem with which we are faced.

This brings me to the next point with which I want to deal, and that is the adequacy of the total sum which the Government are putting in support of research as a whole, and the organisation of research in the way in which the noble Lord, Lord Adrian, raised it in his interesting speech. These questions are, I think, extremely closely related to one another. I believe the future progress of the subject depends, much more than either the universities or the scientists yet understand, upon the outcome of the inquiries undertaken. The noble Lord, Lord Taylor, was very near the truth when he referred to the particular difficulties which arose in continuing research grants which had been initiated by the Medical Research Council and then had appeared to become part of the established order of the university. I do not think that this is at all a simple problem, and it was largely because of this problem that I not only encouraged. but initiated, the general inquiry which is going on.

But I think the actual difficulties of the situation must be faced. The universities, as the noble Lord, Lord Adrian, pointed out, prize above all things, and must continue to prize above all things, their independence of Government. None the less, they must, in practice, raise the great bulk of their finance from Government. Of course, it would be simple in a way to hand over the whole function of giving research grants to universities to the Office of the Minister for Science, to administer through the Research Council. in fact, when I first took office as Lord President in 1957 I came to the conclusion, I think rightly, that the key of the whole matter lay with the universities and it is largely for that reason that the four Research Councils have multiplied their grants to universities by something like a factor of three during those years. I think that has transformed the whole character of new research in universities in the period of six years.

However, it only creates in an acute form the problem to which the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, referred, because I absolutely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Adrian, that a university is not simply a teaching machine it is not a teaching factory at all. Indeed, if it sought to become a teaching factory it would cease to be a university. This fact is very difficult to get across at a time when everybody knows, and no one better than myself, that one of the urgent needs of the time is to increase the undergraduate throughput of our university machine to a point at which it reaches something like 200,000 places at any one given time, which is a figure, I must say, in advance of any current Government plan or any current U.G.C. plan.

That it is going on, it is important for people to realise, is precisely because the university is not simply a teaching machine or teaching factory. The research which goes on with the increased teaching staff will have to increase, if not pari passu, at any rate something like in proportion. If universities looked to the research councils for their money they would become appendages of my office, and they would lose the thing they prize above all other things. If, on the other hand, they continue to receive, as they must, their money through the University Grants Committee, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Adrian, pointed out, they will not, under the present régime, get an earmarked grant at all. There is absolutely no guarantee that, if you increase the quinquennial grant, it will go on research rather than teaching, or that it will go on science rather than Greek lexicons. The matter rests with the University Grants Committee and with the university under the Committee.

Of course, this problem arises in relation to research sometimes in quite humdrum and domestic ways. You find scientists asking for technicians in order to absolve them from much of the drudgery of the laboratory, or asking for that kind of glass or crockery which any modern laboratory should have. They do not get earmarked grants, and they cannot. They do not come under the research councils for this purpose unless the work happens to be part of the work which the research councils are supporting. It was precisely for this kind of reason that I mentioned the Trend inquiry and the Slater inquiry, but the Robbins inquiry is concerned with this field, too. We have to wait until these three bodies bring something out of their studies before we are actually clear which way we are going.

In the meantime, I should like to correct a small point which the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, made. He said, and literally with truth, that the Government proportion of the money spent on research and development had declined over the last six years. By itself this is misleading. The reason why it appears to have declined is that the defence expenditure on research and development has declined. I have lost the figures in a morass of papers, but I could have given him figures which would have shown that on the civil side the Government proportion has increased. The other factor which I think he ought to accept is that one of the most important things—noble Lords have said remarkably little about it, but that is because it is a wide and difficult subject to handle compendiously—is that we have to face that we want industry to spend much more on research than it does. If it spent as much on research as I should like it to do, and increased as rapidly in the traditional industries as I should like it to increase, in research and in the employment of qualified staff, I daresay the Government percentage would go down. Therefore, it is not necessarily a bad thing that the Government percentage goes down. Both those factors need to be taken into account. There is one other thing on the general side that I should like to say about the emigration of scientists. I thought that I detected in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, a feeling that I was somehow criticising him. This is not so. Believe me, I have lived in this particular village for about six years, and I am quite certain that I was right to protest at what was rather a spirit of niggling and carping which has been abroad. I think we are entitled to expect from our leading scientists and academicians, even when they feel irritated with the Government (and I recognise that they are well entitled to do that from time to time), a slightly more constructive attitude than they sometimes show.

I am totally unpenitent about my criticisms of the American high school system. I was subjected to some criticism about that from the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, of all people, who I should have thought would have been the first to criticise that great private enterprise country. None the less, what I said was not a matter of opinion, but a matter of demonstrable fact. It may be true—I think it is—that we are gradually developing a university pattern which is not growing fast enough for our school pattern. But what is manifestly and demonstrably true is that over decades, and possibly longer, the Americans have developed a university and research pattern for which their school pattern is utterly inadequate to cope, both in quality and quantity. Although, of course, over the continent you can find examples of extremely good schools, what you cannot find over the whole is an adequate supply of scientists to supply the Americans' needs.


My Lords, with all due respect to the noble Viscount, surely this is a little unfair to the Americans. Do they not, in fact, do what we would call sixth form work very largely in their universities? Is it not also a fact that their output of scientists, and their spending of money is vastly greater than we have been able to achieve, even allowing for their greater population?


I do not think the noble Lord is quite following the point. The point is that they are driven by their own needs to recruit from other countries. This means, as a mere matter of logic and mathematics, that they are not themselves producing the scientists they need. I know that it is very easy to say that the Americans have a higher dose of everything of original sin, or original stupidity, and simply have not the brains to do it. But this is simply not true. The fact is that they have a bad school system and a good university system, and it is high time they did something about it.

In the meantime, we have to live with the Americans on the other side of the Atlantic, to which many of our most able people (including most of my own ancestors) have gone over the last 350 years, and they will continue to recruit our excellent scientists for a long time to come. In a way that is not a matter to get worried about: it is at least a compliment to our scientists. But there is no very easy counterblast to it. The only doctrine which can be satisfactorily applied is that of the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury—namely, that we should do what it is necessary for us to do for the right reasons to improve our science all the way through; to improve our universities in size and pattern all the way through; and, still more important even than that, to make the whole quality of our life in this country so attractive that neither scientists nor anybody else, unless they are offered an extremely attractive opportunity elsewhere, will ever want to leave us again.

It is getting late, and I should like to join with those who have thanked noble Lords on all sides of the House for their extremely valuable contributions. I was particularly struck with the contributions of my two noble friends behind me, both of whom struck an important note about the status of scientists and engineers and, indeed, about their morale. The last phrases in my original opening speech were designed to cover the same point.

These men have perhaps played a less important part in this debate than the pure scientists, but I wish to emphasise what has been said more than once; that if we have a need in this country it is to raise the status of applied science and not allow the false snobbery of the pure to deprive us of the chance of doubling our standard of life and our gross national product. I am much obliged to noble Lords for this debate.

On Question, Resolution agreed to.