§ 3.38 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
§ LORD TODD
My Lords, I am sure I speak for all noble Lords present when I thank the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, for giving us this opportunity to have what is becoming, as he has said, something like an annual debate on science. I particularly enjoyed the wide-ranging and informed speech which he made in introducing the debate.
It is perhaps true that, formulated as it is on these three Reports, I might be a little less grateful than some other noble Lords present, because as Chairman of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy I suppose I must accept full responsibility for one Report and a substantial measure of responsibility for the Report by the Committee of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy; and I cannot altogether escape the Trend Report because I was a member of the Trend Committee. So this afternoon I stand somewhat in the nature of the accused. As a signatory of the Trend Report, to which I should like to devote most attention, because it is perhaps the most important of the three at the moment, your Lordships will probably not be surprised to hear that I am in full agreement with its recommendations.
The Committee was, as its terms of reference indicate, concerned with the organisation of Government activities in the field of civil science. All of us know that the existing pattern has developed in a rather haphazard fashion. We know that it has been continually adapted and extended in a rather ad hoc manner according to new developments as they arose; and new developments and new needs have been arising with increasing rapidity in recent years. Equally, I think everybody is aware that there has been a growing feeling among scientists, and not only among scientists but among administrators and others, that our organisation has become altogether too diffused, too ill-co-ordinated, that there are gaps in it, and that they have seriously hampered both the formulation and the execution of national scientific policy.
437 Changes seemed to be needed, and it was the duty of the Trend Committee to suggest in general outline what these changes should be. I use the phrase "in general outline" advisedly, because the Report does not seek to give detailed plans for the implementation of the proposals. These detailed plans have got to be worked out after the general principles have been accepted. No doubt in working out details there will be difficult problems to solve, and there will be many awkward decisions to take, out it is to the broader issues that I should like to address myself this afternoon. Particularly I should like to say something about the basis of the main conclusions in the Report, and on the way in which I think they will operate—all this, of course, from my own viewpoint.
My Lords, in discussing subjects as complex as science policy and organisation, there is no absolute right or wrong and there are many matters of personal opinion involved. But it is extremely unlikely that anybody examining our present organisation would not recommend some changes. It is equally, I think, most probable that some of these changes would be unpalatable to some individuals or groups of individuals. I must say that, in the public discussion of both the Trend and the Robbins Reports in recent months, I have been repeatedly struck by the way in which some people seem to be entirely in favour of change provided always that it does not affect them personally in any way. The object of any change in our organisation must be to provide something that is both effective to-day and flexible enough to accommodate the inevitable changes that we shall have to-morrow.
One of the difficulties about organising civil science, and, indeed, about organising science at all, is that science is so various. It ranges in a continuous spectrum from pure research, having as its objective only the advancement of knowledge, all the way down to the application of the results of research in industry and elsewhere; in other words, into technology. This being so, there must be a good deal of arbitrariness in any division into sections, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, himself observed. The second difficulty is that science permeates practically 438 every aspect of our national life, and that as a result it should not, and indeed it cannot, be collectively contained within a single Ministry or Department. As I have stressed before in your Lordships' House, it ought to be represented a good deal more strongly than it is in every Ministry and Department. But over and above this there remain substantial areas, both of science and technology, which need to be handled in a somewhat different way if only to provide the general background to research and development and to cover matters of concern to more than one Department.
For these purposes the Research Councils—the Medical Research Council, the Agricultural Research Council, the recently formed Nature Conservancy and, largest of all, the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research—have, I think, served us well. I believe that a good part of this success has been due to an adherence to what has been called the Haldane principle, which in essence means simply leaving the formulation and execution of research programmes to the scientists themselves with the minimum of official control. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, expressed some doubts about the validity of the Haldane principle after about fifty years. But I would point out to him that, so far as I am aware, the principle of Archimedes which has been in existence for considerably longer is still regarded as being generally valid. Admittedly—
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord? I think he is confusing social concepts with scientific concepts.
§ LORD TODD
I thank the noble Lord. I believe that is so in that particular instance, but I think there are also certain principles of government which have lasted for considerably more than fifty years. However, I apologise if I seemed to question what the noble Lord said. Admittedly, so far as these Research Councils are concerned, I included the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. It is, of course, formally a Department and its members are technically civil servants, but I think, in the general way in which it supports research, it is in pattern broadly like 439 the other true Research Councils. But one of the troubles is that to-day, with the growth of pure and applied science, responsibility for some areas falls outside the scope of existing Research Councils. Your Lordships will find it in the hands of other agencies whose activities are not always properly co-ordinated with one another, and which do not adequately cover the full range of our needs.
A situation like this, of course, is liable to produce, on the one hand, waste and duplication and, on the other hand, inadequate effort. It cannot be remedied, in my view, either by further fragmentation leading to a multiplicity of small autonomous organisations or by endeavouring to combine everything in a monolithic Ministry. What I think is needed is a regrouping into substantial units covering more or less coherent areas of science which can be properly co-ordinated both internally and externally. This is, in fact, what I think the Trend Report seeks to do, recognising that pure and applied science cannot be separated into watertight compartments. The Report suggests no serious organisational changes in respect of either the M.R.C. or the A.R.C. Both of these serve, in medicine and in agriculture, two relatively homogeneous technologies and the sciences that lie behind them.
However, the situation regarding the D.S.I.R. is a little more complex. The Department has done, and continues to do, very good work; and neither I, nor I am sure any of the members of the Trend Committee, have anything but praise for the way in which its staff perform their work. But D.S.I.R. covers an increasingly wide range of activities. At one extreme, it administers studentships and fellowships for postgraduate students in universities and colleges of technology and provides grants to support their researches, and, at the other end, it seeks to further research and development in industry through its own research establishments, the industrial research associations, and indeed also by placing development contracts.
It seems to me that two things are vital in any organisation that we have. First, we must see to it that scientific research is adequately supported; that 440 new ideas and new fields have a chance to develop properly. Secondly, we must bend our efforts to making industry more and more science-minded and stimulate technological innovation in industry in every way we can. For I believe that technological innovation is in the last analysis our very life-blood, and that without it we need not worry too much about economic growth because we shall not have any to worry about.
I believe that aims such as these can best be achieved by reorganising D.S.I.R., by creating from it two separate organisations. One of these, which has been named the Science Research Council—and I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, that other names might be considered for this; I do not think the name as put down now need be regarded as for ever fixed—will look after the whole matter of grants, studentships and the like, for research in pure and applied science in universities and similar institutions. It will also embrace such bodies as the National Institute for Research in Nuclear Science, which provides very costly equipment for the common use of university research workers.
I think the great expansion of activity in research, inevitable as a result of the growth of our universities and its growing cost both nationally and internationally, makes an independent council of this type necessary. With such a Council I think we can be sure that, taken with the Medical Research Council, the Agricultural Research Council and the Natural Resources Research Council, which I shall mention in a moment, we can cover adequately the whole spectrum of scientific research. The second organisation proposed to be based on part of D.S.I.R. is the Industrial Research and Development Authority, which we can say will be concerned essentially with the whole broad problem of science in industry; but, before dealing with that, I should like to say a word or two about the Natural Resources Research Council.
For some years past the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy has been concerned at the confusion in organisation which seems to characterise research and development in the broad field of our natural resources—water, land, 441 forestry and so on—responsibility for which, where it existed, seemed to be distributed over all sorts of ill-co-ordinated agencies. As a result, we set up an ad hoc committee, under the chairmanship of Sir William Slater, to consider the problem in some detail. The report of that Committee is reproduced in the A.C.S.P. Report which we have before us to-day. Indeed, the report was accepted in general by A.C.S.P., subject to the important modification which the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, has already mentioned: the Advisory Council agreed it would be senseless to omit the nature reserves from this particular Council. The Trend Committee, too, has taken the same line as A.C.S.P., and has, in general, accepted the Slater recommendations in most essentials.
The proposed Natural Resources Research Council will of course include, inter alia, some current D.S.I.R. responsibilities, notably the Geological Survey, but I think it should provide for the first time an adequate coverage of the important area of what is sometimes called the "environmental sciences" and their dependent technologies. This at any rate is the basis of what we believe to be the homogeneity of this Council. I should mention, perhaps, that there were certain matters in this connection—land use, for example—left open in the Trend Report because any conclusions reached by the Trend Committee were to be without prejudice to the Report of the Heyworth Committee, which obviously has a bearing on several of the subjects covered by the Natural Resources Research Council.
I know that in some quarters there has been a certain amount of alarm expressed about the inclusion in the Natural Resources Research Council of certain activities which are now carried on in other ways: alarm because it was felt that this might result in their having less attention paid to them than is their due, and that they would suffer by subordination to other interests. I find it a little difficult to understand how this view can be held because, after all, if you read the Trend Report, you will see that the Natural Resources Research Council—and also, for that matter, the Science Research Council—would differ 442 from a body like, say, the M.R.C. in having something like a federal structure.
Each division would have its own board and be responsible for its own affairs, subject only, of course, to the co-ordination provided by the Council itself, on which the division would be represented. The Council itself would then transmit to the Minister and to his Advisory Council the consolidated programme of recommended work covering the whole field of natural resources. It seems to me that this does not imply any diminution in the importance or recognition of individual subjects within divisions of the Natural Resources Research Council, and I think, too, that this type of organisation is the only alternative to the proliferation of small, more or less autonomous and poorly coordinated units. I would also point out that an organisation like this permits the addition to it of new activities as they arise without upsetting the general structural pattern.
Our future depends on the progressiveness and efficiency of our industry, and I think it has been recognised on all sides that some kind of Government participation is required, not only through the use of development contracts in civil industry (a proposal which was in fact made by A.C.S.P. as long ago as 1952) but also by stimulating and aiding research and development as a major activity of individual firms. I should like to stress here that in this matter of technological progress and innovation we must always remember that progress is going to be made within firms in the industry it is not going to be done by Government Departments as such. If you take this view, as I do, you will need a vigorous organisation of a rather different type and on a bigger scale than the present industrial side of D.S.I.R., although I think it is clear that the industrial side of D.S.I.R. could well form the base for a new organisation. That new organisation, if it is to be successful, must he in the closest touch with industry. It must almost be a part of our industrial pattern, and there must be free and frequent interchange of personnel between that organisation and industry.
I do not believe that this can be achieved through a Ministry, as that term is ordinarily understood, and it is 443 to give the necessary flexibility and vigour that the Committee has proposed the creation of I.R.D.A., the Industrial Research and Development Authority, which will enjoy within its own sphere the same measure of autonomy and freedom of operation as the Research Councils do in theirs. I believe this is a good proposal, and that for the purpose in view the kind of organisation we have in the Atomic Energy Authority (which, I would remind your Lordships, comes within the ambit of the present Minister for Science) is a better model than the Ministry of Aviation. To me, I confess that it would seem that the Industrial Research and Development Authority, which will be industrially orientated and very much concerned with development problems, ought to have as a constituent the National Research and Development Corporation. This proposal, I know, has not been accepted by the Government, which will leave N.R.D.C. in the Board of Trade but, at the same time, have I.R.D.A. responsible for development contracts. I believe this is bad policy, but I comfort myself with the thought that it will so clearly be seen to be bad after a short period of operation that the junction of N.R.D.C. and I.R.D.A. will come about in a relatively short period.
With regard to the overall direction of these activities in science and to the question of Ministerial responsibility, I believe the proposal that there should be a Minister responsible for the Research Councils, for I.R.D.A. and for the Atomic Energy Authority, and that the University Grants Committee should be attached to him rather than to the Treasury, is sound. I know that some people express horror that a Minister with such scientific and technical responsibilities should have the U.G.C. under his wing, but I think—
§ VISCOUNT STUART OF FINDHORN
My Lords, I dislike interrupting the noble Lord, but could the Treasury be divorced from the U.G.C.?
§ LORD TODD
I know, as I say, that some people express horror that a Minister with technical responsibilities like this should have the U.G.C. under his wing, but I think we should remember that at the present time the universities are spending about £35 million per annum on scientific research, and if we include the expenditure on N.I.R.N.S., which is largely a university service, it is more than £40 million. This is greater than the whole of the Ministry of Aviation's expenditure on civil science research and development, which amounts to £37½ million, and it represents a substantial and very important part of this country's national scientific effort. It is also a substantial part of the total university grant; and the association of the U.G.C. with the Minister in charge of the Research Councils is, I would submit, entirely justifiable. Moreover, it is likely to become even more important, with the ever-growing importance of the social sciences, whose relevance to our industrial life can hardly be overstressed and which are likely to develop mainly in institutions coming within the ambit of the U.G.C.
I was interested in the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, about the Social Sciences Research Council, which certainly could fit into the organisation of the type discussed in the Trend Report; and I was interested in his remarks on the matter of information because I agree with him that this is one of the major problems in science at the present time. I also agree that it is not being tackled with anything like the vigour with which it should be. I would make only one point regarding the inquiry which the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy made. This is quite a small inquiry, designed merely to find out what kind of literature working scientists use mostly; and if it can be used to stimulate more people to do more work in this field it will have served its purpose. It is a subject which has been pursued to a considerable extent at the international level.
445 I have heard also criticisms to the effect that one should not associate civil technology with the Research Councils but that it should be separated in a Ministry of Technology which would be based on the Ministry of Aviation. At the present time I think the intimate connection of defence with aviation would make this a difficult thing to achieve. It might be easier to take out the civil part of the Ministry of Aviation and put it with the I.R.D.A. I would point out that on the civil side the expenditure at the Ministry of Aviation is about £37½ million, and is by no means out of scale with the expenditure in the other organisations coming under the present Minister for Science. The Atomic Energy Authority alone spends about £50 million a year on civil research and development, and the Research Councils spend about £41 million a year. I believe that a separation of this kind into a Ministry of Technology would be wrong and would tend to accentuate the undesirable cleavage between science and the application of science.
For my part, I would rather have the Committee's solution: a Minister with a high-level advisory council dealing with broad policy questions and priorities and a group of bodies under him each concerned with the exploration of coherent areas of science and technology and with freedom to formulate and execute their programmes subject only to general policy control. I believe this is the best way to develop science and technology in the national interest.
I would draw your Lordships' attention to the key rôle of the Advisory Council which is proposed in the Trend Report, for this is the body on whose advice our scientific policy is to be based—and scientific policy we must have. In the last analysis a country lives by its technology; and upon our success in translating new knowledge into things that we can sell depends the amount of money which can be made available for scientific research, as indeed for all our activities.
It is thus of prime importance that we develop a scientific policy in line with a rationally planned pattern of economic growth in which full account is taken of probable technological advances. This means that in our 446 scientific policy we must seek to establish a proper order of priorities. Our resources in money and manpower are not, nor ever can be, unlimited; and with the ever-increasing cost of science it is clear that we must apply some discrimination in selecting those areas of science in which we are going to make our major effort. For we cannot hope to compete in scale with larger and wealthier countries in every area of science and technology: if we do so we shall spread our efforts too thinly and achieve in the end little or nothing. Hard choices will have to be made, and scientists will have to be a party to those choices. The Haldane concept applied to our efforts in science can be regarded as valid only if responsibility is accepted as well as independence.
I do not believe that the making of the choices necessary to formulate national priorities in science is impossible, as some people say. I agree that, at times, it may be unpleasant; but I think the necessary criteria for making these choices exist, even if some are not, perhaps, as explicit as we should wish. The choices which are necessary for the development of a rational scientific policy will not be easy, nor, when they are made, will they always be correct; but only if we have the courage to make them will any progress be made.
In our civil scientific organisation, hitherto, development of orderly and informed priorities has been well-nigh impossible to achieve; and to my mind the most important feature of the Trend Committee proposals is that—with the research agencies arranged so that they can establish priorities in their own fields, and with a high-level Advisory Council so composed that it can advise the Minister adequately on broad issues of policy, establish rational priorities between agencies and keep the manpower problem under continuous review—we shall have, for the first time, the machinery capable of giving us the kind of integrated policy we need. I think, incidentally, that these remarks apply very much to some of the problems that the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, talked about in connection with high energy physics, where, again, hard choices will have to be taken.
My Lords, I have taken up too much of your time already so I shall not discuss in detail the other two Reports 447 before us. The emigration of scientists is a subject on which in recent weeks a good deal of both sense and nonsense has been written; and, if I may venture to say so, if your Lordships wish to read a sensible exposition of this subject you could do worse than read the article published by the noble Lord, Lord Bowden, a week ago, in the New Scientist. This emigration problem has been one which, of course, has been the concern of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy for quite a number of years—though I must say that our observations did not make much impact at first. But, although emigration cannot be stopped by force, I think the proposals you will find in the Annual Report of the A.C.S.P. submitted to the Government are likely to minimise its extent.
One of the things that disturbed me most when we had the Report of the Committee on Scientific Manpower, as it did the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, was the situation as regards our output of engineers. There seems to be no doubt that engineering has been attracting too few of our able young people. This is a difficult and dangerous problem. I suspect that in part the great publicity given to the advances in science and the general attribution of progress in fields like atomic energy, space exploration and the like to scientists, with hardly a mention of the immense part played in them by engineers, has something to do with the attraction of science, as distinct from engineering, for our young people. I should like to see a good deal more publicity given to the exciting prospects of a career in applied science and engineering, although I think that that alone will not do the job completely.
One thing that ought to be considered particularly concerns the universities. They ought, I think, to give a good deal of consideration to the relations between their courses in pure science and their courses in engineering. At present, these are too often divorced from one another. Normally, a boy who comes up from school and elects to take engineering is then more or less locked up in engineering the whole time. We cannot expect engineering to bulk largely in a school curriculum. At that point, boys must be learning science, because 448 one cannot apply science until one has some to apply. But I think that young men are more likely to turn towards applied science after they conic up to the university; and if some method could be devised whereby they could transfer to engineering after a period in a straight pure science course; if it were made not only easy but the normal thing for them to do this, then I think it would have considerable influence and would considerably better our output of engineers, as regards both quality and quantity.
My Lords, that is all that I have to say about these two Reports, for which, as I said at the outset, I have to accept at least a measure of responsibility. But I would draw your Lordships' attention to the fact that the A.C.S.P. Report deals to a large extent with examples of some of the problems that were very much the concern of the Trend Committee—priorities in science, international co-operation, emigration and scientific man-power. Although a change in organisation is not of itself any guarantee that such problems will be solved, I believe that the acceptance of the Trend Committee's proposals will at least bring them to clearer attention and put them into better perspective than they have been so far.
§ 4.12 p.m.
§ LORD NELSON OF STAFFORD
My Lords, I would ask your Lordships' kind indulgence in addressing your Lordships' House for the first time in this important debate. We have before us three extremely important and valuable Reports. My remarks upon them are from an industrial point of view and based on my own experience.
Turning first to the scientific and technological manpower report for 1962, I would emphasise what has already been said by noble Lords who have spoken, about the dangers of the falling away in the number of those studying technological subjects. It is extremely encouraging that the number of those studying science and coming out of science schools is increasing. On the other hand, the number of those studying technological subjects is static; and, what I think should be of great concern to your Lordships, the number studying mechanical engineering has actually fallen by nearly 25 per cent. All of our I industrial products must contain a high 449 degree of good quality technological and mechanical engineering, and I regard this as a most serious matter. What can we do about it? My noble friend Lord Todd has already said that we have all to do something—in education, in industry and in Government. One thing that I should like to emphasise is the need to encourage enthusiasm in young men, to make them realise that in technology and mechanical engineering they are doing something really worthwhile, that they are doing creative work, which is going to be really exciting. I think that this is often forgotten in our university courses.
This Technological Manpower Report is an extremely important one, as it is the last which will be presented by the committee under the chairmanship of Sir Solly Zuckerman. He has been studying this subject continuously since the Barlow Committee met in 1946. My father sat on that Committee, and I remember him emphasising at the time how important he thought its studies were. Important they are, indeed, and I think it is extremely gratifying to see the progress that has been made in gathering reliable facts and figures on which firm policy decisions can now be based.
Since this Report was issued, we have had the Robbins Report on Higher Education. Your Lordships will know that this advocates a large expansion of the higher educational system; and all in industry, I know, fully endorse this and are extremely encouraged by it. I hope that the recommendation will be implemented with the maximum amount of speed. On the other hand, we must recognise that this will require a considerable amount of additional qualified technical manpower. Industry is extremely worried about where these men are to come from. There is the fear in many quarters that they will be drawn from industry. Industry can ill afford them at the present time, in the highly competitive atmosphere in which we exist, and this additional strain on demand might well be an important inflationary factor in the economy. I would strongly urge that the Scientific Manpower Committee should be asked to study this question as a matter of urgency. I think that they ought to be asked to examine where 450 these men are to be found for this excellent programme and to recommend steps to ensure that they are available, without damage either to industry or to the economy. Looking at this problem, I myself would advocate that we might examine a wider extension of the system, widely used on the Continent, of men holding dual executive appointments in both industry and academic institutions. This can help to solve the problem, and I think that at the same time it would be good for the academic institutions and good for industry. There is an unnatural gulf between the two—I do not know why—and this step could solve both this problem and the problem of the shortage of manpower which will arise.
Turning now to the important Trend Report on the Organisation of Civil Science, I think that it is extremely important, in studying this Report, to realise the limitations imposed on the Committee by its terms of reference. It is examining the organisation of civil science in only a quite limited field. I would congratulate the Committee on the examination it made of the confused situation which was revealed. The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, referred to it as a jungle. I think that that is quite apparent, when you read it through. The Committee put forward some extremely sound proposals for a really workable organisation for handling this important work, on which I congratulate it. Unfortunately, the field of defence was excluded from the Committee's terms of reference. This is the largest section of Government activity in the scientific field. Without doubt some of the ablest men and ablest teams in the country are to be found there; and, after all, science is science, whether it is in defence or in the civil field. I think that this is an artificial division which is very difficult to reconcile.
An example of this is work in the electronics field. Here, defence work is almost immediately capable of civil applications. It is an area where industry needs the maximum amount of support, particularly in competing with the United States, whose industry is supported by a massive space development programme. I think that the omission of defence is something which should he examined very closely. It 451 must be realised, also, that by omitting defence, we are also omitting the substantial organisation of the Ministry of Aviation, which has the greatest experience in the country in placing contracts for research and development in industry, and also has a great fund of knowledge of the manpower and resources which exist in industry. The Report made no study of this, and I would say that co-ordination between this civil field, to which the Report draws attention, and the defence field, to which I have referred, is very necessary if its valuable work and background are not to be lost for civil application. I also think it a pity that the terms of reference exclude the nationalised industries. Here is a sizeable and growing research activity. Much of the work has great relevance to the civil industry and has immediate application to civil products. I think it is important that any organisation for civil science should take into account the work being done in the nationalised industries.
On the detail of the proposals made, I should like to emphasise a point that has been touched on already; that is, the separation of science in industry, under the new Industrial Research and Development Authority, and science in the universities, under the Research Council for Science. If a split is necessary—and I agree that one has to draw the line somewhere—then I believe that positive machinery must be established to co-ordinate the two. The object of the whole exercise, as my noble friend Lord Todd has explained, is to stimulate research in industry, and we want to be sure that we do not set up an organisation which exaggerates the gulf that already tends to exist.
I very much welcome the proposed Industrial Research and Development Authority. This seems to me to be a sound and workable arrangement. I admit that initially I favoured the idea of including the National Research Development Corporation within this Authority (I shall be interested to hear what the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, with his great experience in this particular field, has to say on this point), but on closer reflection and study I think that the Government are probably right, at least at this stage, in leaving it out, bearing in mind the degree to which its 452 work requires flexibility, speed and commercial judgment. In order to achieve these, probably a self-accounting unit is better for the time being. The Report mentions the Research Associations. These come, quite rightly, under the Industrial Research and Development Authority. But the Report makes no mention of the part which these associations should play; and maybe this again is outside their terms of reference. The Report does say, however, that they spend some £7 million a year, and so the effort and resources are quite sizeable. I think there are many people who have some misgivings as to the effectiveness of some, at any rate, of these Research Associations. Some are excellent, and do good work; others are of much more doubtful value. I should like to see, under this new organisation, a close review made of the research organisations to see what is worth while and what should possibly be pruned out.
These Trend recommendations are a blueprint of an organisational structure covering a limited area of the nation's civil research work. It is a good one. It requires a great deal of co-ordination, both within itself and with others working independently outside. In this respect I think one must draw attention to the fact that paper organisations are one thing, but the people who have to work in them are another. We all know how important people are, and the degree to which their physical location can affect their work. The people who are embraced under the proposed organisation will have to work together, and therefore I would strongly advocate that they should be housed together. No mention is made of this in the Report, but I feel that individuals, bodies, committees—and a number of them are referred to—must be housed in one building if they are going to be the successful instruments which we hope they will be for the co-ordination of civil science in this country, and the supervisor, as one might say, of the use of our national resources in this field. I would, however, utter one word of warning. I would not advocate that the building should be too big. This is a great area for the operation of Parkinson's Law. It is easy to produce a lot of paper rather than the stimulus to research work in industry, to which my 453 noble friend Lord Todd has already referred.
Attention has already been drawn to the fact that this is a Paper upon organisation and not on policy. The assumption is made, however, that it is the policy of the Government, or will be the policy of the Government, to spend more money in industry. This is very much to be welcomed and, in my judgment, is obviously very sound. But many people would like to know a little more about it—how much; in what way, and where? I think it is important that those immediately concerned with this problem should know the answer to these questions at an early date, and that the important decisions of choice, to which my noble friend Lord Todd referred earlier, should be made at an early date, however difficult they are.
On this last matter, there are two points that I would make. First, on deciding how the money is spent, the Trend Report refers to economic criteria, and I think this must be accepted as being sound. But I feel it is also important to be quite clear what we mean by this. I hope that the broadest interpretation will be put on to these terms. The object is to stimulate science and research in industry and not to get your money back on each individual investment. The economic return must be in improved industrial economy and in greater competitiveness. This should be the basis of the judgment, and I hope that those responsible for forming and administering this policy will keep this firmly in mind.
The second point I want to make is as to where in industry this work should be placed. I would strongly advocate that support should be given to individuals, teams, laboratories and firms who merit it on their form; on the basis of the quality of the work, the production results they have achieved and their ability to prosecute export business throughout the world. This is not a question of fair shares for all; it is a question of fair shares for those who have deserved it. The proposed plan can create teams and laboratories in industry of international reputation and standing. It can help to create products of wide international acceptance. It can create something of great and lasting value to the nation. But it can do this, in my 454 opinion, only if that support is given to those showing winning form, and those of proven ability to make a success of investment of this type. I would suggest that the Trend Report is an excellent start' o[...] a difficult and complicated problem. But time is not on our side, and there is still a great deal to do. I would therefore conclude by saying; let us implement these recommendations as quickly as possible. I thank your Lordships for your kind attention to my remarks.
§ 4.29 p.m.
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
My Lords, as a comparative newcomer to this House, this is the first time I have had the experience of following a maiden speech. I should like to congratulate the noble Lord on the contribution he has made to-day. We all observed his easy and confident manner, and we felt, no doubt, that it was in part attributable to the genes, because I understand that his father made an important contribution to applied science in this country. I am sure he would be gratified to know that his son has made his maiden speech during a science debate. I hone we shall hear much more from the noble Lord in future.
This afternoon we are allowed to range rather widely, because the three Reports we are discussing cover a very wide field. I propose to devote myself to the subject known as manpower, but I shall apply myself particularly to the aspect of manpower known as woman-power. May I anticipate the Minister's corny joke at the end of this debate, which I have heard so many times when Ministers have said, "Well, manpower embraces womanpower".
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
The nation has undoubtedly become more science conscious, even during the last few years. This may be due in part to political speeches or the spate of important Reports such as we have before us to-day. But I think we should all agree that while the facts presented to us concerning reorganisation, the exodus to the United States of America, and the need for more research and equipment are very interesting, nevertheless the most important factor in our scientific advance is the availability of the trained 455 human brain. If we fail to recognise this and neglect to use the talents of the whole population, we must fall behind other countries in the scientific revolution which will mark the 20th century. The losses which we have suffered through the emigration of scientists are very small and could be retrieved many times over if we applied ourselves to using to the full our natural resources in the shape—if I may call it so—of our intelligent indigenous human material.
I want particularly to refer to the appalling inadequacy of the provisions made for giving potential women scientists adequate opportunities. It will be recalled that in the Robbins Report it was said on the education of girls:There is here a considerable reserve of unused ability which must be mobilised if the critical shortages in many professions are to be met.The situation is so serious that girls who are attracted to science and prepared to work with a view to taking a degree are discouraged by the lack of teachers and facilities. The headmistress and the teachers then press and persuade the would-be scientist to take an arts course, and subsequently she joins that crowd of intelligent young women B.A.s looking for a job.
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
I am glad my noble friend agrees, because it is really one of the tragedies of the young women of to-day. Many of these find, to their dismay, having gone to one job after another, that a prospective employer is more concerned with discovering whether they can type than with any aspect of their academic training. These are the girls who, in the first place, had a flair for science and whose energies should be directed into the right channels. Some girls' schools have no laboratories; some have laboratories which would be condemned in a boys' school; and some schools, through lack of accommodation, use the laboratory as a form room. In some areas there is a kind headmaster who, provided the headmistress can say, "This girl is really brilliant", will then say, "Let her use our laboratory".
There is an overall shortage of science teachers, and I should like to 456 put this on the record so that those concerned with education in the field of science will realise how serious the position is. In a sample inquiry among 586 girls' schools this is what was found to have happened. When these schools advertised for teachers, it was found that there were no applicants for vacancies in the following subjects: in mathematics, in 19 schools; in physics, in 8 schools; in chemistry, in 7 schools; in biology, in 7 schools, and in general science in 5 schools. There was only one applicant for vacancies in mathematics in 57 schools; in physics, in 37 schools; in chemistry, in 30 schools; in biology, in 27 schools, and in general science in 23 schools. I want to emphasise that it is of little use for us to call for more people to work in pure science in industry and in technology if, right at the bottom, we fail to recognise that our potential material is wasted. Here, I am going to prove, is the real brain wastage. We have spent a long time talking about the brain drain to the United States, but let us examine the brain wastage in this country.
The failure to use our available talent to the full is shown in the school records. Of girls who gain five Ordinary levels in the G.C.E., 82 per cent. receive no more education. The figure for boys is 39 per cent. Of those who gain two Advanced levels, 33 per cent. receive no more education. The equivalent figure for boys is 1 per cent. I know that the urgency for an advanced scientific education in our schools is recognised in many quarters, but it is not translated into action. I understand that one of the first acts of the Industrial Fund for the Advancement of Science Education in the Schools in 1956 was concerned with planning school science laboratories. Yet I see in the final Report of December, 1963, that while 164 boys' schools were given grants for buildings and apparatus, only 14 girls' schools received a grant. I am not suggesting that every girl should be trained to become a cosmonaut, but it was significant that when that charming Russian girl was over here, Valentina Tereshkova, the Soviet cosmonaut, she always replied to the tributes which were paid to her in the same way. She said that much of the credit should go to her science teachers.
457 If the girl who has a flair for science secures a first-class education at school, she is confronted with formidable difficulties if she wants to go to Oxford or Cambridge. There are five women's colleges at Oxford and three at Cambridge, all desperately short of money. Accommodation for women is limited to about 10 per cent. of the student population, although I saw figures in The Times this morning which suggested it was lower than 10 per cent. It has been announced by Nuffield College this week that they are to give £10,000 to each of the five women's colleges at Oxford for general educational purposes. The Warden of Nuffield kindly said that his college had a surplus of income, and that they had decided to help the poorer colleges because he recognised the difficulties the women's colleges had in attracting grants from industry and other sources.
On Sunday, I noticed that the Observer described these grants, quite understandably, as a windfall for Oxford women. But the higher education of women should not be dependent, even in part, on a windfall. Surely it is an anachronism to exclude, on grounds of sex, good scientific brains from any university. Today I opened my Times and I must admit that I found that apparently there are new thoughts on this subject. I see that Oxford University are going to give more money to poor colleges, which will include the women's colleges, and it is also suggested that New College might admit women. But of course that depends upon whether they get sufficient support. It should not be forgotten that among those scientists who have gone to the United States of America are a large number interested in medical re-search. Yet really intelligent girls, anxious to have a medical education and who are research-minded, are frustrated because the London medical schools have limited their number to 21 per cent.—and my noble friend who has made some research into this matter will agree that we have the figures right now.
What is our source of supply?—and I have heard to-day that supply does not equal demand The 18-year-old school-leaver must be the sole source of supply for many professions, and the 458 almost certainty of marriage among girls to-day and temporary absence from work during child-birth must not be regarded as wastage, but as an investment. And, surely, the production of potential workers is one of the most important functions in the community.
I am informed by some very responsible headmistresses—and all the figures I have given your Lordships have come from an absolutely reliable source—that if a woman with a scientific training goes into an industrial job worthy of her capabilities she may not receive promotion, because she is a woman, and therefore she may marry. Almost all girls in the future are undoubtedly going to marry, and it is surprising that there is still this 19th century approach to women's capabilities and in the failure of highly intelligent men to give a woman with a first-class brain an opportunity because she may take a limited period off in the whole of her working life to have babies.
Little help is given to women scientists to help them keep up to date with scientific developments while they are bringing up a family and before returning to industry. The noble Lord, Lord Robbins, realised the importance of this and I was very glad when my noble friend who opened the debate said that the Robbins Report must of course be discussed with these other scientific Reports. On the subject which I am discussing to-day, what did Lord Robbins say? He said (paragraph 515):In most cases a married woman returning to her profession is involved in extra domestic expenditure and must therefore earn from the start. We therefore recommend that adequate financial arrangements should he made to enable married women to take refresher courses; financial support should also be available for older women who wish to take initial courses of higher education.The gravity of the loss to the nation by not giving positive encouragement to women scientists and helping them to fulfil their promise cannot be over emphasised. A mother who has a good education and some professional qualifications can undertake at least part time work or even full-time work at the age of 35 and can, accordingly, give the country some thirty years' service in professional employment.
Finally, my Lords, if women had failed to make the academic grade, then this 459 treatment which is meted out to them in schools, universities and afterwards would be understandable. But have they failed? I invite your Lordships to look at their records in The Times every time university degrees are announced and awards at medical schools are given. The fact is that, despite this educational steeplechase which women must undertake, women have proved in our universities, our laboratories and our medical schools that they are capable of achieving the highest awards; and, consequently, this brain wastage which I have described and which exists in our midst is to be deplored.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT CALDECOTE
My Lords, I, too, should like to add my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Nelson of Stafford, upon his most valuable and well-informed speech, which I am sure delighted the whole House. As a colleague and friend for many years, I know that his knowledge and experience on the subject of to-day's debate are very wide, and indeed I am sure that we shall all agree in hoping that he will find time in his busy life to come and speak in this House on many occasions.
Once more we owe a great debt of gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, who has so ably introduced such an important Motion to-day. The only comment I would make is that he has chosen such a wide field to cover in his Motion that it makes life very difficult for those mortals of lesser ability than his own. I therefore propose to concentrate my remarks on some aspects of the Trend Report, particularly those regarding its recommendations on industrial research and development, which, as the noble Lord, Lord Todd, has pointed out, are such grave and important factors in enabling us to achieve and to maintain our economic growth.
Certainly the Trend Report is correct in its criticism of the present organisation: there are far too many different sources of money, too many different committees, too many different Ministers, too many different Departments involved, and all too little firm direction of policy, particularly at the applied end of the spectrum. I would join with the noble Lord, Lord Nelson of Stafford, 460 in congratulating the members of the Committee in having done a splendid job in tackling a most difficult subject. But I am much less happy about whether their proposed solutions to the problems regarding industrial development are the best.
One of the major problems in any large organisation which is dependent on the progress of technology and scientific research for its wellbeing—and the Government certainly qualify in this respect—is to ensure that the fruits of research are available where they can be made full use of, and that applied research and development are carried out as economically and quickly as possible. Unlike industry, the Government are also most vitally interested in scientific research in relation to education and learning.
While I am entirely in agreement with the Report that thespectrum of research and development is one and continuousand that it is important, therefore, to ensure that knowledge can travel easily from basic research through into development and ultimately to manufacture and sales, it does not necessarily follow from that that the whole of this spectrum of scientific research and development should be the responsibility of one organisation or of one Minister. The Trend Report does not, of course, push this argument to its ultimate conclusion, for its recommendations do not include any proposal, for instance, that defence research and development should come within the ambit of the Minister for Science, nor that all the growing activities of the Post Office and other nationalised industries should come within his ambit. But I believe that the proposals go too far in this direction and that the proposed responsibilities of the Minister for Science are too wide.
The Report itself recognises quite clearly that some division of responsibility is necessary within the whole field of scientific effort for which the Government are responsible. And the Government themselves have already decided not to include the N.R.D.C. under the Minister for Science, but to leave it, as it is now, under the Board of Trade, thus continuing the separation of the N.R.D.C. from the other Government 461 activities in the field of industrial development, which has been so firmly and clearly criticised in the Report, and again so eloquently criticised to-day by the noble Lord, Lord Todd.
It is my firm belief that further modification of the proposals in the Report is urgently necessary so as to remove the responsibility for industrial applied research and development from the Minister for Science and Education and to place it under a Minister with direct responsibility for the health and prosperity of industry. The terms of reference of the Trend Committee did not refer at all to development, and it is therefore not surprising that there is little reference in the Report to the great difference in outlook and attitude which inevitably exists between those who are primarily interested in education, and in the advancement of learning and knowledge, and those who are primarily interested in applied science, technology, engineering—call it what you will—and in development leading to a product which can be manufactured economically and sold in the markets of the world.
The first activity, the academic activity, requires the maximum amount of freedom and independence to pursue promising lines of investigation which seem likely to advance knowledge and will encourage research students to undertake original research work under the guidance of experienced research workers in their field. Though finance is often an important factor, particularly nowadays for the provision of expensive and complicated equipment, the economics of the activity are of secondary importance to the advancement of learning and knowledge. But in engineering and industrial development the priorities are entirely different. An engineer has been described as "one who can make for 5s. what any fool can make for a £1". In development, the three factors of performance, time and money, are closely related, and achievement of the right balance is of dominating importance. To achieve it, proper control and, above all, discipline are needed at every stage.
It is, I think, generally agreed that somewhere in the spectrum of education and pure research, at one end, stretching through development to manufacture, at the other, there must be some 462 break in organisation and responsibility. The Trend Report has proposed that the break should be between development and industry, the I.R.D.A. being the responsibility of the Minister for Science, and industry that of the Board of Trade. The Government have emphasised this break by deciding, in my view rightly, to leaves N.R.D.C. under the Board of Trade. Surely it is logical, and indeed most necessary, to take this argument a stage further and make the break between the Ministry of Science responsibility and Board of Trade responsibility at the stage where education, learning and research move into applied research, development and manufacture. Certainly this will involve problems of communication, but any large organisation—and the Government organisation is certainly no exception—will always have problems of communication, however perfect its structure. It is a hard fact of any big organisation. But these problems of communication will, I believe, be far less at this boundary than they will be at the boundary between development and manufacture.
If this thesis is accepted, then the Minister for Science and Education should be responsible, as proposed, for education and research in universities; for space research; for Research Councils, including the new Science Research Council; for national research institutions, such as the National Physical Laboratory, and for the dissemination of scientific information. That is (if I may refer to the Report), broadly for the functions in paragraphs 61 to 86 and sub-paragraphs (a) and (e) of paragraph 90, though I would certainly agree that some further consideration should be given to the position of the National Chemical and National Engineering Laboratories and such institutions as the Road Research Laboratory.
The other functions of the proposed I.R.D.A. would then become the responsibility of the Board of Trade, including, of course, the N.R.D.C., as already announced. In particular, I should like to see the Industrial Research Association under the ægis of the Board of Trade. These activities would certainly require some change in the organisation of that Ministry, and the 463 Board of Trade would probably require a special scientific division to deal with them. It might well be appropriate to transfer the whole I.R.D.A. concept, less the functions I have mentioned, to the Board of Trade, which I believe would be of great benefit to that Ministry and would bring into it a great deal more science and understanding of the problems of research and development.
As the noble Lord, Lord Todd, has pointed out, it is not possible at this stage to go into great detail of a new organisation, but I should like to make just a few observations on some aspects of these proposals. To remove any possibility of misunderstanding right at the start, may I emphasise that I fully appreciate the tremendous importance of close relations between industry and the universities, to the great benefit, as the noble Lord, Lord Nelson of Stafford, said, of both. Certainly there will always be problems in forging these links but I believe that the arrangement I have suggested, by which the I.R.D.A., under the Board of Trade, would be responsible for making grants for applied research or specific research projects in the industrial field in universities, technical colleges and similar institutions, would be of tremendous benefit in improving communications between industry and universities, and in reducing the gulf between them, referred to earlier in the debate. In a debate in another place the Minister referred particularly to the I.R.D.A. as an "autonomous body", and in passing I would stress the tremendous importance of this. I am not quite clear what this means, whether it means that it will be given a grant of money with which to operate without interference on a day-to-day basis from the Treasury or any other Department. But I hope that, whatever is the outcome of these discussions, whatever Department the I.R.D.A. is associated with, this arrangement will operate, and I hope that the noble Earl who is going to reply will be able to give us a firm assurance on this point.
It may be said that all these problems I have discussed must have been fully considered by the Trend Committee, and no doubt they were. But perhaps the Committee was looking at the problem principally from a scientific rather 464 than from an industrial and technological angle. That view can certainly be supported by the Committee's terms of reference, and also by its membership, which was clearly weighted on the side of experience in administration and in pure science and research, rather than in engineering and industrial development. In view of the considerations I have mentioned, I very much hope that the Government will give some further serious consideration to establishing a much closer relationship between industry and Government support for applied science and development. If it is right that the N.R.D.C. should be under the Board of Trade, surely it is right also that financial support for industrial applied research and development should be sponsored, and the policy directed, by the same Ministry.
Finally, my Lords, I would emphasise once more that if these new arrangements for stimulating industrial research and development are to be successful, it is essential—and I could not use any less strong word—that the responsible executive body, such as I.R.D.A., should be able to act independently of day-to-day departmental or Treasury control and should have at its head a man well qualified, with industrial experience, with full authority, and, last but not least, with an adequate salary.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ LORD LLEWELYN-DAVIES
My Lords, having listened to the able and interesting speeches of four noble Lords and of Baroness Summerskill, it is with special diffidence that I ask for the indulgence of the House in addressing your Lordships to-day for the first time. I propose to confine what I have to say to the fields of interest with which I am personally concerned—namely, the fields of physical planning, architecture and building. I believe that our present arrangements for research in these fields are inadequate, and, further, that the proposals which we have before us at the present time in the Trend Report and various other proposals are not yet sufficient to fill the gap.
I should like to ask the indulgence of the House if I turn aside for the moment from the problems of scientific policy in order to say a few words about the position in 20th century Britain of 465 planning, building and architecture. To-day, the industry and the professions concerned with building are facing an explosive expansion of their responsibility, and failure to solve the problem, failure to meet this responsibility, could block social and national progress in almost every other field. There has been the recent Report by the National Economic Development Council, which has shown that a dramatic improvement in the productivity of the building industry is necessary if it is to meet its targets over the next five years; and that should it fail to meet these targets the whole national growth and the increase of the national income on which our progress—indeed, our survival—depends could be frustrated.
We have also been concerned with the problems of a dramatic shift in population—the move of population from the North to the South—and we have to plan to stop this drift. It will not be stopped by measures concerned alone with the location of industry. Unless we find the means to rebuild our cities in the North to a standard of amenity and human decency and attractiveness, we shall not succeed in holding back this dramatic and dangerous change. Further, we have had posed for us in the Buchanan Report the terrible problems of congestion in our city centres, in all our centres of population, which we shall inevitably run into unless v,e can find the means to replan and rebuild these cities in the very near future.
I believe that the time has come when we must consider all these problems as interrelated and connected with one another and as a major field of national concern. The professions and the industry have emerged, perhaps a little belatedly and after a bit of a struggle, to face the realities of the 20th century; and now, wherever you look, you will see references to the need for substantial expansion and increase of research. Indeed, in The Times to-day we have a two-column headline "Call for more research in the building industry".
At the present time the volume of effort in research covering these fields is ridiculously low. Building is our second largest industry. Compared in terms of expenditure on research, we find it 466 is one-twelfth of the national average. If we compare it with agriculture—and there is some point in this comparison, as the two fields of industry and endeavour are about equal, or roughly equal, and are similar by reason of being composed of a large number of small units—we still find that the volume of research for building is one-third or a quarter what it is for agriculture. So I think it is clear that we need to expand and develop research in these related fields, planning, building and architecture, by the most vigorous and effective means that are open to us.
The arrangements proposed in the Trend Report have been ably and clearly expounded to-day by the noble Lord, Lord Todd. Briefly, I want to look at them again in relation to the problems of architecture, building and planning. We have the two well-established Research Councils, the Medical Research Council and the Agricultural Research Council, which are characterised by their coverage of demarcated fields of national endeavour. We have the new proposed Natural Resources Research Council, and we expect and hope that when the results of the Heyworth Committee are known we may well have a Social Sciences Research Council as well. If the Trend Report is implemented—and there seems every reason that it will be—then we shall also have a Science Research Council and the Industrial Research and Development Authority. Where, under these six Councils and Authorities, does building research and planning—research in those fields which the Royal Institute of British Architects has referred to as the "built environment"—come in? The answer is, nowhere in particular. It comes hit by bit and here and there into all of them.
If we turn in detail to the Trend Report and consider what it has said in this matter, we shall find that it does not deal specifically with the subject of building, architecture or planning, but there are two paragraphs in the Report which bear on the topic which we are discussing—namely, paragraphs 78 and 98. In paragraph 78 the Report deals with the problem of research into land use. In my view, it rightly rejects for the time being the idea that land use should be studied by the National 467 Resources Research Council. The authors of the Trend Report make the point that the problem of land use is intimately bound up with building, civil engineering, economic and social research—in fact, with the topics which go to make up the subject to which I am calling your Lordships' attention this afternoon.
In my view that paragraph in the Report really defines "a coherent field of research" as the noble Lord, Lord Todd, has defined it this afternoon, for which a Research Council comparable to the Medical Research Council and the Agricultural Research Council should really be in existence. The Report does not draw this conclusion in words, because it leaves the matter for further consideration after the Hey-worth Report has been received. In paragraph 98 of the Trend Report there is discussion as to the future of two existing Research Stations: the Building Research Station and the Road Research Station. The Report discusses whether or not these should be placed with the relevant Ministries.
With due reason, the Report dismisses this proposal, and leaves it that these two Stations should be under the aegis of the Industrial Research and Development Authority. But there is a certain hesitancy in the tone of voice of the Report on this paragraph and in the other paragraph which I have quoted, which contrasts with its crisp authority on most other spheres, and it leaves the matter of the future of these two Stations to be considered in due time by the Minister for Science. Of course, the reason is fairly clear. These Stations are not, strictly speaking, industrial or technological in their activity. They cover wider fields of social, economic and other research, again concerned with the broad topic on which I have spoken before. Therefore it seems to me clear that within the broad framework established by the Trend Report, answerable to the Minister for Science and under the overall direction of the new Council, we should have, in addition to the Research Councils so far proposed, a Research Council for the "built environment".
I have been speaking about the scientific aspects of architecture. I 468 should not like your Lordships to think that because I have been addressing you on this subject just now, I regard it as overriding in any way the artistic, æsthetic and other aspects of my profession—quite the contrary. There has been, perhaps since the 19th century, a false idea that in a field like ours art and science are somehow opposed and that the more you have of the one the less you have of the other. This is wrong. They are both the same. Wren was not fooled by this sort of language. He was a scientist and a Member of the Royal Society before he became an architect. For him there was no polarity whatever between art and science. I believe that architects, engineers and other designers can make a Britain that is efficient, and beautiful as well, only if they are armed with all the tools that modern science and modern research can give them.
§ 5.10 p.m.
THE EARL OF HALSBURY
My Lords, we have had two excellent maiden speeches this afternoon. I am sure it would be your Lordships' wish that I should congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Llewelyn-Davies, on a speech which I am sure commended itself to your Lordships. It was wise, it was well-informed, and it was delivered in a style highly conformable to your Lordships' traditions. I am sure we all hope to listen to him again on many occasions in the future.
In composing a speech on the Motion of my noble friend Lord Shackleton, I was not quite sure how far references to the Robbins Report would be in order; but, as he mentioned it in his first speech, I shall take a lead from him and start by saying that I found myself completely in agreement with the majority recommendations of the Robbins Committee so far as they were concerned with creating a Minister for autonomous bodies; that is to say, a Minister of Science, Arts and Higher Education. I thought it from many points of view an ideal arrangement. I also found myself in agreement with the findings of the Trend Committee up to the point at which they proposed the setting up of an Industrial Research and Development Authority. I shall refer later to the problems involved in this, some of which I believe to have been misconceived.
469 So far as Government policy is concerned, I agree with a statement which was made by the Minister in another place in a recent debate concerning the inconceivability of a sort of total Ministry for the whole of science. I believe we need one central concentration and a number of peripheral concentrations of which the Ministry of Aviation's research organisations may be regarded as an example. We also need a general permeation of scientific attitudes throughout the Government machine.
I was a little puzzled by the Minister's use of the rather odd word "diffusion" to cover both the peripheral concentrations and the permeation of scientific attitudes throughout the Government machine. I would be grateful if the noble Earl who is to reply to the debate would confirm that my understanding of the Minister's view is correct. And on the assumption that it is and that we differ by no more than his choice of what, for me, was a rather odd word to cover two rather disparate things, it follows that I am in agreement with the analysis of our task: to achieve the right concentration and right balance between a single concentration at the centre and multiple concentrations at the periphery.
I do not think it difficult to specify criteria for a legitimate concentration of scientific effort at the periphery. First of all, it must be primarily concerned with application. Secondly, its business should be co-terminus with that of a Ministry. Thirdly, the organisation responsible for it must be a large one, large enough to stand on its own feet and not get lost in the overwhelmingly administrative atmosphere of a Civil Service Department. Fourthly, its chief scientist must be a person of standing, entitling him to the same sort of status as the Chief Scientist at the Ministry of Aviation; that is to say, a member of the top policy-making hierarchy with direct access to the Permanent Secretary and the Minister.
In terms of those four criteria, I would say that our present distribution as between centre and periphery is broadly right. But there are three rather difficult choices open—namely, those concerned with the future of the Atomic Energy Authority, the Road Research Laboratory and the Building Research Board. The business of the Atomic Energy Authority is not co-terminus with 470 that of any one Ministry. It is concerned with weapons, with inland power, and with marine propulsion units. These are of concern to the Defence Ministry, the Ministry of Power, the Board of Trade and the Ministry of Transport. If the Atomic Energy Authority is to remain one and integral, I should have thought it belonged to the centre rather than the periphery. Here again I agree with the Trend Report.
After a lot of thought, I believe the Road Research Laboratory should go over to the Ministry of Transport, for perhaps an experimental period of five years so as to see how they get on. Here I am not against Trend, but go a little further by anticipating a decision which Trend leaves open. I would leave the Building Research Board where it is until we see how the transfer of the Road Research Laboratory works out. Apart from these three points, my views seem to be in accordance with those of the Trend Report and of the Minister as expressed in another place. So much for the scope of my agreement with the official documents before us.
I must say that I am disappointed with the outcome of the Government decision as to the allocation of responsibility recommended by the Robbins Committee. We all seem to be in agreement that the first and second alternatives considered by the Robbins Committee are to be discarded, and that the choice lies between the third and fourth, with the Committee recommending the fourth. Instead of choosing between them, the Government have adopted both. I can only regard this choice as an administrative aberration which will, I believe, be corrected in the course of time. Ever since Diocletian put one Imperial unit under the joint command of a Senior Augustus and a Junior Caesar—a device which completely broke down in operation—attempts to succeed where he did not have always met with the same fate. I cannot believe that two Cabinet Ministers and a Minister of State in charge of one inflated and "inhomogeneous" Department will prove a satisfactory long-term arrangement.
There is a natural hierarchy of reference in matters of research starting in the universities and proceeding thence through the Department of 471 Scientific and Industrial Research stations right through to the industrial research associations. In my opinion, they need to come under a common coverage. By "hierarchy of reference" I mean that problems get referred up the hierarchy, from industry to the research associations, from the research associations to the stations, and thence to universities, and the problems come down again. The National Physical Laboratory, for example, is a standards laboratory for weights, measures, time and physical properties of materials. These are central Government activities and I do not think they can be delegated to an autonomous Industrial Research and Development Authority, or whatever other name it goes by. They are statutory functions which are and should continue to be a direct ministerial responsibility. In a sense, one can say that the National Physical Laboratory belongs as naturally to the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research as the National Institute for Medical Research at Mill Hill belongs to the Medical Research Council.
I have an uneasy feeling that in transferring the Research Grants Committee directly to the Minister as a Science Research Council the authors of the Trend Report felt that they had transferred the word "Science" out of the title of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, so that it was left in their minds with the title of "Department of Industrial Research". Everything else that was the province of the Minister being then a Council, a Department of Industrial Research was perhaps thought to be an anomaly, and industry being not the province of the Minister, some special autonomy was felt to be necessary to cover it. Hence the concept of the Industrial Research and Development Authority. But one thing we must have is a "long-stop". Science is the domain of the unexpected and unforeseeable, and there must be a patron of last recourse. There must be a channel directly through to a ministerial desk on which is carved the well-known words "The buck stops here". That is what the D.S.I.R. has always been. It is what an Industrial Research and Development Authority I would not be.
472 That is why I want to see the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research retain its identity as a Department with executive functions, after the transfer out of it of the Science Research Council. I do not mind how much is transferred out of D.S.I.R. and made autonomous, but I want D.S.I.R. to be directly responsible to the Minister. Since I was strongly attracted to the concept of a Minister for autonomous bodies, as recommended by the Robbins Report, it might seem rather anomalous that I am now saying that I should like the Minister for Science to retain executive responsibility for the D.S.I.R. stations and the Research Associations. My reasons for allowing the exception are simply that I think it good for all of us to have executive work to do. It keeps our feet on the ground, forces us to cope with detail and gives us insight into the difficulties that other executive bodies have to face. I do not want to see the Minister for Science becoming a shadowy manipulator of autonomous bodies. I am not over in love with tidiness for its own sake, and I have no objection to an exception which proves the rule.
With these comments, my Lords, I come to the topic which I wish particularly to discuss—the need for some sort of executive Industrial Research and Development Authority, and what I believe to be the misconception of that need in the Trend Report. That there is a need, I am sure. I think the authority responsible for it should be the Board of Trade. It could be created from a reconstituted and expanded National Research Development Corporation, with enlarged powers and functions. It has long been noted that the placing of development contracts by the Defence Ministries has had immense and far-reaching results. This is noted, of course, in the Trend Report. It has been the most natural thing in the world to inquire whether something of the kind could not be done for civilian industry.
When these matters were first mooted, those who, like myself, were concerned with the actual administration of this possibility were quick to note a misleading analogy. Defence contracts are placed on behalf of a user by the General Staff which is in a position to specify the user's needs. Where in industry can one find the equivalent of 473 a General Staff; and who is supposed to be the user on whose behalf it is to operate? On analysis, I think that this question breaks into two parts, one of which has a partial answer and the other of which has not. If by "user" we mean "consumer", some member of the public who buys something in a shop, then no one represents him, and no one can. He represents himself, and that is why we have a wide range of goods in our shops. The consumers' organisations can report to him on such questions as quality and price, but they are not a General Staff specifying his needs. The goods he buys, however, have been the subject of complex inter-industry transactions in the course of manufacture, and the 50-odd research associations do, to some extent, represent their members engaged in inter-industry transactions. In so far as one of their functions is to study the production equipment which their members buy but do not make, they might be able to act as a General Staff for their members.
My Lords, long years ago, in evidence before a sub-committee of the A.C.S.P., then chaired by Sir Solly Zuckerman, I said that I thought we ought to explore the possibility of such a course as this. I added a rider that I did not think very much would come of it, but I insisted that we ought to try. The powers of the National Research Development Council were accordingly enlarged, in order to enable it to make this effort. It did; but very little came of it. Subsequently, it was felt that perhaps N.R.D.C.'s statutory need to see a return on its money was inhibiting its selection of targets, and so D.S.I.R. had a try, too, on a basis of either no return on its money, or a minimal return. The two organisations have worked together in this field. Both of them feel the absurdity of operating as twin authorities, one of which has to get its money back on a development contract and the other of which does not. I do not think that D.S.I.R. desires to be involved in this sort of work. I believe that it would prefer to see N.R.D.C.'s power enlarged so as to be relieved of the responsibility for trying.
Be that as it may, we have to accept that neither the National Research Development Corporation, nor the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, 474 nor the combination of the two of them, has scored any notable successes so far. Why not? Has the problem been misconceived? I believe that it has. I believe that the weaknesses of industry, where they occur, are structural, not personal or organisational. From point to point in the economy, interlocking industries can pull one another to a technological standstill. We shall not rectify this situation unless we try to understand it. Too often the shortcomings of industry are made the subject of Party political attack and defence. This engenders an atmosphere in which patient study and analysis are unlikely to proceed as they must before problems can be first specified and then solved. For example, the maker of a tool is only rarely the user of a tool, and the user is rarely its maker. In these circumstances, a closed cycle of technological stagnation can be set up. The maker says, "I sell my tools to all the best users. What can be wrong with them? The user says, "I buy my tools from all the best manufacturers. What more can I do?" Between the two of them they pull one another to a standstill. This is what I mean by a structural failure. I should like to illustrate how a properly constituted I.R.D.A./N.R.D.C. (it does not matter what it is called) could operate in two contexts.
The instrument industry, for example, is a mosaic of rather under-capitalised and not very large firms. They find the problem of financing new instruments very hard going. Some of the most successful are subsidiaries of much larger parent companies not in the instrument field, and they can get their financial requirements more easily than independent firms. If we want to have a healthier industry we must reinforce success and promote rationalisation. The placing of development contracts so as to hurry up this process could be nationally rewarding. Whenever a successful instrument is developed anywhere else in the world, a development contract to put our industry level or ahead would result in its increased good health. But, my Lords, there will be screams of pain from those who do not get development contracts in this field. They will say that there has been unfair competition. We must either endure those screams of pain or let well alone. No Ministry at the mercy of Parliamentary whims will ever endure 475 them, but they could be endured by an enlarged I.R.D.A. or N.R.D.C. with extended powers. But no development of inventions is involved. What we need to do is, by speeding up the tempo, to reinforce what is already being invented and developed. N.R.D.C. recognises this and increasingly operates in partnership with industry, as I have been advocating.
From the instrument industry I should like to give a second illustration concerned with manufacturing chemical plant. Many of the firms involved are located in the North-East, which we all so much wish to help. I should declare an interest in one of them, as a director of the Head Wrightson group. On his return from Moscow, the Leader of the Opposition drew attention to the Russian need for chemical plant and oil-refining equipment, and suggested that this was an opportunity for British industry to earn exports. He repeated this in a speech at Scarborough, reprinted as Labour's Plan for Science, from which, with your Lordships' permission, I should like to read two brief extracts. This is what Mr. Wilson said:Anyone who has discussed trade prospects with Soviet leaders, as many of us have, or with some of our great Commonwealth countries, knows that there is a great demand for new chemical industries based on British research. We have the best chemists in the world, but we have never mobilised to the full the possible resources of chemical engineering to enable us to ship complete factories to these areas on a scale commensurate with their needs or our capacities.After an intermission he went on:The Russians have talked to me of orders amounting to hundreds of millions over the next few years. A Labour Government would initiate a State-sponsored chemical engineering consortium to meet the needs, not only of Eastern Europe but, far more important, of developing Commonwealth countries. We would train and we would mobilise chemical engineers to design the plants that the world needs, plants which are at present being supplied far too often by Germany or by America on the basis of British know-how and research. And in the fabrication of this plant which the new chemical engineering industry would call into being we could bring new orders to our depressed marine and heavy engineering shops in shipbuilding and other areas.In broad terms, I think that Mr. Wilson's scheme is sound. But to implement what he has in mind we need first to key it into the structure of the industries concerned; and these are 476 three. First of all, there are the chemical manufacturers, who initiate processes and contract for the erection of plants designed to work them. These are the first group. The second group are the equipment suppliers—a very heterogeneous collection. Electric motors come from one supplier, pumps from a second, compressors from a third, tubes from a fourth, valves from a fifth, heat exchangers from a sixth, control equipment and instruments from a seventh, and so on. Between these two groups stands a third, the consultant designer contractors—the impresarios, as Mr. Wilson calls them —who operate turnkey contracts on behalf of the chemical manufacturers and take overall responsibility for the design, erection and starting up of the plants on behalf of their clients, the chemical manufacturers. Commonly, the chemical manufacturers license their consultant contractors, their impresarios, to sell the process to third parties, in which case the impresarios get repeat orders and further plant may be ordered from the manufacturers. For example, the North Thames Gas Board is installing at South all the I.C.I. process for making gas from petroleum hydrocarbons. The installation is proceeding by means of a contract with Power-Gas Corporation, Limited, a North-East coast firm who are I.C.I.'s licensees. No one of the many manufacturers with whom Power-Gas places orders could sell their equipment for this purpose without the leadership of the Power-Gas Corporation. The North-East coast fabricators of chemical plant must have this impresario to sell plants for them.
Now many of the impresarios in this country are British subsidiaries of American companies licensed under the processes of the leading American oil companies. Many of these impresarios are of great distinction, and their names are household words in the chemical engineering industry—Foster Wheeler, Kellogg, Lummus, Fluor and so on. This suits British industry in two ways: our oil industry, which is technologically derivative on the American oil industry, can get access to any process it wants; and orders are placed with British firms for the supply of equipment. The structure has, however, two counterpart disadvantages. Our oil firms have little 477 incentive to develop new, fundamental processes; and when a plant is required in, say, France, it is the French subsidiary of an American impresario company that acts on behalf of its parent company, and British manufacturers do not get a chance to quote for export. So far as Russia is concerned, no Russian subsidiaries exist, for obvious reasons, and no American process "know-how" is transmissible behind the Iron Curtain. So that Mr. Wilson's project can have only a limited success so far as oil refineries and petro-chemical plant is concerned. Of course, my Lords, we have British impresarios, too: firms like Power-Gas, Humphreys and Glasgow, Constructors John Brown, and so on—there is a whole long list of them. But the scope of the processes they can sell alongside the hardware is very limited, compared with that of their American competitors; and none of these firms, British or American, originates processes. Only oil companies and chemical manufacturers do that.
What can we do about it? An enlarged N.R.D.C. or I.R.D.A. could place large-scale development contracts with our oil companies and chemical firms so as to subsidise the development of competitive oil-refining processes and petrochemical processes, on condition that they build up the business of British impresarios so as to promote the possibility of exporting processes and hardware together at a later stage. This, then, is the sort of work that an Industrial Research and Development Authority should be doing, and these are the sort of contracts it ought to be placing—contracts intended to reinforce success and rectify the consequences of some natural bias operating to the disadvantage of the community; the natural bias favouring, for example, short-term rather than long-term research. And the authority for placing them should vest in a body responsible to the Board of Trade. It is because the Trend Report did not analyse the realities of this sort of need that I find its views on the I.R.D.A. unsound. I am glad that in one respect, at least, the Government have not accepted its recommendations, since the National Research Development Corporation is to remain with the Board of Trade. Enlarge and, reconstitute it, and it would be able to do all the industrial work 478 properly contemplated for the I.R.D.A. The National Physical Laboratory, my Lords, is not an industrial body, and should not attempt to become one or be responsible to one—and I can only hope that it never will.
My Lords, it is an ungrateful and ungracious task to disagree with a document which has been the subject of much honest and worthy study by distinguished and disinterested people. However, I feel it no very great indictment of Sir Burke Trend, my noble friend Lord Todd or his colleagues that they have misconceived a problem which no one has yet successfully analysed. But this misconception is very much at the heart of what they have recommended, and is the source of my disagreement. I see, from reading the papers this morning, that quotations from Omar are now in favour in another place. Curiously enough, while contemplating the terms in which I would have addressed my erstwhile noble and learned friend, had he been present, a paraphrase of the quatrain cited in another place occurred to me over the week-end. I was not sure whether its recitation in your Lordships' House would be in order, but as I now have a Parliamentary precedent I say that, had he been here, I would have addressed him somewhat as follows:Old friend, let thou and I as one conspireTo grasp the sorry shape of D.S.I.R.Lest it be shattered all to bits as TrendRemoulds it nearer to his heart's desire.As things stand, I must leave this to the noble Earl who represents him in your Lordships' House. I hope that he will be my co-conspirator and be receptive of what I have said, leaving industry to the Board of Trade while his Department concentrates on science.
To turn to what the Trend Report considers appropriate for "industrial research and development", we have to consider research establishments concerned with the following groups of activities—and they break up into very distinct groups. The first are concerned with public problems: fire prevention, pest infestation, water pollution, air pollution, hydraulics—that is, river and sea-power control—forest products and radio research. By "radio research" I do not mean research into domestic television receivers, but into the height 479 of the ionosphere and the speed of light over the British Isles under different weather conditions. It is supposed to be constant, but it is not quite. None of this group has any relation to industry at all, save in a somewhat restrictive sense. They are all likely to advocate the imposition of some sort of restraints on industry.
Now I have spent a great deal of my working life in industry—approximately two-thirds of it when I was not a civil or a public servant. I am not, therefore, the least bit hostile to industry—I know myself to be part of it—but in some respects industry needs restraint simply because we all need restraint, and what I am invoking is nothing more than the classic principle of checks and balances.
In this connection I have heard much nonsense talked about the form and captaincy of I.R.D.A.—talk which goes far beyond anything in the Trend Report. We need, I have heard it said, some tough tycoons to run it. Precisely whom are they supposed to get tough with? The Treasury? You might as well talk of getting tough with your bank manager when you want an overdraft! Are they to get tough with their scientists? On what principle? Are they to require their scientists to be tougher with their fellow tycoons than they would be otherwise? I do not see it myself. The responsibilities are those of central Government: they should not be delegated to an autonomous body, whatever it is called. Our bodies now contain, I read, some 2½ parts per million of chlorinated hydrocarbons. The French and Belgians, I am told, are ahead of us, with some 5 parts per million. No-one knows what the effect may be, but, judging by the effect on birds' eggs, your Lordships' preoccupation with the educational problems of the bulge may prove to be short-lived. There may be no bulge in twenty years' time: so let research into things like pest infestation and its cure be as responsible to the public as possible by being the subject of direct, and not delegated, ministerial authority.
The second group are all concerned with some problems of standardisation, which ought always to be the direct responsibility of Government. This group includes the National Physical Laboratory the National Chemical Laboratory, 480 the National Engineering Laboratory and the Laboratory of the Government Chemist. They have all come under criticism at one time or another because they do other things as well, and there seem to be some doubts as to whether they ought to. I believe it to be the responsibility of Government to confront and not to funk the problem of defining their scope and writing clear and coherent terms of reference for these bodies. If the target is not clear, do not blame the marksman.
Their government leaves much to be desired. The National Physical Laboratory is theoretically governed by a general board of which I have the honour to be a member. It meets once a year. Need I say more? It is a pure façade; and I do not like façades If the Minister for Science were, as the Robbins Committee recommended, a Minister for autonomous bodies he might do some interesting research àa la Parkinson on the tendency of all bodies to become autonomous in spite of those officially responsible for governing them—whether they will or whether they nill.
The third group is comprised of the Building Research Establishment, the Road Research Board and the Geological Survey. They are all contingent transferees elsewhere. I hope my concurrence in the recommended transfers and my readiness to go beyond Trend in respect of the Road Research Laboratory will acquit me of any undue emphasis on preserving the present empire of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research intact at all costs. The fourth group contains only one laboratory, Warren Springs, which originally was to have been the headquarters of the Fuel Research Board but which was later transformed into a general purpose outlier. No point of principle is involved in leaving it intact and with its present terms of reference. It has come into existence since my time, and I confess to knowing less about it than I do about other bodies.
My Lords, if I oppose the concept of an I.R.D.A. it is because all the real problems of direction will be handed over unsolved. What the Industrial Research Associations need is not a patron in the form of I.R.D.A. but statutory provisions for research levies on industry so that the Directors of 481 Research Associations can direct research instead of limping round cap in hand to their members in order to get them to pay subscriptions at an adequate and realistic level. The two largest, B.I.S.R.A., and the Sirley Institute of the cotton industry, already collect their revenues in this way—no point of principle is involved—and they are the two most viable of all the research associations. Only the Government can impose this legislation. I should like to see it do so instead of delegating its patronage to I.R.D.A. which can accomplish nothing directly.
If I have disagreed with the second half of the Trend Report, let me end on a more gracious note by repeating my agreement with the first half concerned with the reconstitution and extension of the Research Councils. I agree with the formation of a Natural Resources Council, and I agree with reconstituting the Research Grants Committee of D.S.I.R. as a science research council directly responsible to the Minister. I think "General Research Council" might be the best name for it. I would add a rider that, as its work extends, more of it will have to be decided departmentally, and the members of the council who give their services as voluntary, part-time public servants will have to confine themselves to the larger issues—support for CERN, NIRNS, ESRO, ELDO, radio astronomy and so on.
The sheer bulk of paper involved in the detailed applications for grants is already prohibitive, and no one will be able to cope with it as it expands unless the greater part of the decisions are taken departmentally. While composing this speech I received the papers for the next meeting of the Research Grants Committee on Friday. I had it in mind to bring them here and flourish them at your Lordships to add point to what I am saying. I felt, however, that by placing them on the seat beside me I might be excluding some fellow Peer from his seat, and so I measured and weighed them instead. There was a mass of foolscap five inches thick and eight and a quarter pounds in weight. No doubt your Lordships will take my point. To the reconstituted councils I hope that Lord Hey worth's Committee will recommend the addition of a sister body in the form of a Social Sciences 482 Research Council. On this topic your Lordships gave me a patient hearing a few weeks ago and I shall not repeat the plea I made then.
My Lords, it is the privilege of those who sit on the Cross-Benches to agree and disagree with each side of the House in turn, and I think I have indulged all four inter-combinations this afternoon. My loyalty is to science and not to Party, and I welcome this interest in our affairs though I am anxious to see it deployed on the right lines. I believe that my views reflect not anything heretical but the canon of administrative orthodoxy: one sphere of interest, one Department, one Minister; two spheres of interest, two Departments, two Ministers; three spheres of interest, three Departments, and so on. Education is one sphere of interest, central science is a second; industry is a third.
Let not the President of the Board of Trade administer Science as such, nor the Minister for Science inter-meddle with the structural weaknesses of industry. Let the Minister of Education concern himself with education and not try to administer central science. Let the hierarchy in science, from universities through Research Councils and their executive laboratories to Industrial Research Associations be the province of a Minister for Science, Arts and Higher Education as the patron of all autonomous bodies in his field. Here, my Lords, is a workable and coherent pattern for us, the pattern I believe we shall come round to in due course.
§ 5.46 p.m.
§ LORD BOWDEN
My Lords, at this late stage in the afternoon most of the more obvious things that can be said about the Trend Report have already been said, many of them, with great eloquence, by the noble Lord, Lord Nelson of Stafford, who made his maiden speech this afternoon and who will, I am sure, be glad to know that he said many of the things that I should have liked to say.
I think the most important criticism that can be made of the Trend Report is that when one discusses it among practising scientists, as I have had occasion to do many times during the last few weeks, most of them dismiss the greater part of its deliberations as fundamentally unimportant; even, one 483 might say, irrelevant. This may seem a harsh thing to say, but I think the truth of the matter is that the really difficult problems with which the Trend Committee might have been concerned were excluded either by its very narrow terms of reference or by the way in which it chose to interpret them. It was in the first place charged to consider only the science with which the Ministry is concerned. It rather deliberately added development itself; but then, in the course of its deliberations, it almost entirely ignored this aspect. Furthermore, it ignored the very complex problems which are posed by the Ministry of Defence, by the Atomic Energy Authority and by those large research establishments controlled by the nationalised industries; and in some important respects it even ignored the research of the universities. It is hardly possible to write a Report about a matter so important if one ignores something like four-fifths of the field with which the Report should perhaps have concerned itself.
My own criticism is that the Committee should have gone back and asked for different terms of reference, It should have concerned itself, in fact, with the total range of research that is being done in this country; because to isolate from the rest the part with which it was concerned makes production of a sensible plan almost impossible. The effect of the operations of the Ministry of Defence, of the Ministry of Aviation and of the Atomic Energy Authority on the whole field of science is quite fundamental and cannot be ignored. The other grave omission from the Report is any sense that the object of applied research and industrial research is not merely intellectual satisfaction, but the production of designs which can be manufactured and sold at a profit. This fundamental point seems to have been almost completely ignored by the Trend Report. This particular ultimate objective, the prosperity of British industry and the achievement of better designs which are manufacturable at a profit, should have been, to my mind, the primary concern to any Committee concerned with research and development. The fact that this was not mentioned seems sufficient condemnation at least of the terms of reference with which the Committee was burdened. Perhaps I may leave my comment on the 484 Trend Report by saying that it seems to me an admirable document, if we accept the restrictions within which it was composed, and that it may well serve as a draft of the first part of a larger Report, which we must have, dealing with industry and science as a whole, including all the various bodies I have mentioned.
Since time is getting on, I had better turn to one particular aspect of our subject this afternoon—namely, the impact upon the scientific manpower of the implementation of the Robbins Report. Your Lordships will remember that when the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, spoke about his Report in this House two or three months ago, he said that the problem which confronts the universities in their attempt to cope with the demand for more university places is a sheer problem of speed. The difficulty with which they are confronted is entirely man-made. It is, in fact, almost entirely the product of the Government's refusal, two years ago, to implement the recommendations of the University Grants Committee. The noble Lord, Lord Robbins, said last December that he hoped very much that before the House adjourned for Christmas the Government would announce some supplementary grants to the universities, because the very essence of the problem was speed.
It is very difficult for me to speak on this matter with due detachment because, obviously, I have a vested interest in one particular institution, and, if I may, I should like to present the picture as it has appeared to us. The College in Manchester from which I come is concerned primarily with the education of engineers. In fact, it is the second largest of our English schools of engineering. It has always had an extremely intimate association with industry of the type to which the noble Lord, Lord Nelson of Stafford, referred. It has attempted always to do effectively the kind of thing which very belatedly the Government and the Robbins Committee, too, have come to realise is essential for the national well-being.
We have been expanding quite quickly during the last decade, and our last quinquennial submission, made three years ago, was based on the assumption that the rate of expansion should be increased. The Government's grant to us over the quinquennium was £1¼ 485 million less than we had asked for. This meant, of course, that our expansion and progress had to be materially reduced. About a year ago, your Lordships will remember, the Government announced a fairly substantial supplementary increase in grants. Our grant for the quinquennium was then £800,000 less than the original quinquennial submissions had been. Your Lordships will realise, therefore, with what eagerness we have awaited the announcement of the supplementary grants which the Government propose to make, and which, in fact, they announced last week.
They are intended to implement the Robbins Report, to make it possible for the universities to engage in something of a crash programme, to try to make up the leeway which had been lost through the years that the locusts have eaten. The extra grant which we had last week was £20,000, from which I had to substract about £11,000 which I have to pay in the form of extra monies earned by craftsmen. This means that I have £9,000 more next year than I expected to have, a sum which makes it possible to educate perhaps another dozen engineers. This is a grant given at a time of emergency as a crash programme made necessary by the recommendations of the Robbins Report.
In order to find out something of what other universities have had, I have rung up one or two. I find that the University of Glasgow, which is in many ways comparable with my own institute, has had an almost exactly similar sum. Of another two colleges to which I have spoken, one has had about one-fifth of what was expected and another one-fourth. We have had about one-tenth on this basis. It becomes extremely doubtful if the shortage of engineers, to which this debate draws attention, is likely to be remedied.
The magnitude of the problem which confronts this country is, I suspect, vastly greater than has yet been appreciated. Last December I had the privilege of entertaining the President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. Stratton, who came to stay with us in Manchester. We discovered, greatly to our mutual satisfaction and pleasure, that much of the inspiration which led to the foundation and 486 development of his great Institute came from Manchester. Barton Rogers, its founder, came to Manchester and studied the work which had been done in my own College in the early part of the 1850s and in other institutes at the time. The ideas which were current in Manchester came to fruition in Boston.
I reminded Dr. Stratton that when I was last in Boston, in 1957, I computed very approximately that the budget of the M.I.T. in that year was about as great as the combined budgets of all the English universities put together. I told him that the English universities had expanded and that the Government were pouring money into them. We repeated the calculation, and found that in the year 1963 the combined budgets of our English universities were about equal to the budget of the M.I.T. for that year. It is against this sort of scale that we have to measure the problems that confront us.
It has been M.I.T's greatest achievement, I think, that from the very start it has accepted as an obligation that it must study the development of and the problems which beset the society in which it exists. This was enshrined not only in the original Charter of M.I.T. but also in the Morrill Land Act, which set up the Land Grant Colleges of America in 1862, in the middle of the Civil War. It is the boast of M.I.T. that a great part of the industry of the whole of the United States and, in particular, of New England has been profoundly influenced by the work done there. They have established a co-operation with industry of extraordinary potency and tremendous success. In large measure, it depends on a system of the kind which the noble Lord, Lord Nelson of Stafford, proposed: that people should have a dual obligation to work in industry and in a university, and that they should regard the education of young men to become engineers as the kind of thing which can be done only by engineers.
This is the striking difference between our university system and the universities of America. It is not only that they are wealthier, but also that they are determined, from the very beginning, to associate themselves with industry in every possible way. It is typical of their 487 attitude that for many years they have studied the problems of industry and commerce on the organisational side. The Schools of Business at M.I.T. and Harvard have been world famous for many years, at a time when in this country the idea that a university might properly concern itself with the problems of business was regarded with dismay, and even thought ridiculous; but during the last year or two it has become accepted that we, too, must have schools of business. Provision has been made for two such schools and, greatly to my pleasure, it has been decided that one is to be at Manchester.
But I beg your Lordships to believe that the idea that a university should study the problems of industry, business, commerce, and, indeed, any problem of society, is the commonplace in America and the exception in this country. I feel that until this particular problem has been remedied, few of the problems which are posed by Trend are really important, nor, I believe, can the problem of scientific manpower effectively be solved. The Americans have succeeded in making science, applied science and engineering extremely popular among their young people; and they do it in large measure because the students, while in college, have an opportunity of engaging in research programmes of extreme interest, supported by the Government and by industry; and programmes, moreover, the relevance of which is obvious to the students and the importance of which to industry and commerce is obvious to everyone. It is a valid criticism, I fear, of our universities that they have exaggerated the importance of individual brilliance and intellectual satisfaction at the price, very often, of relevance—and by "relevance", I mean to the fundamental problems which beset society to-day.
I am not by any means sure how best we can proceed to resolve the problems which beset us; but I believe that unless the educational world is regarded as having a fundamental part to play in the whole of the national research programme, then we shall never achieve the position which makes American industries and universities so dominant to-day. It is taken as a matter of course in America that universities should concern 488 themselves directly with many of the problems that are studied in this country, in the establishments with which we have been concerned in our discussion of the Trend Report. Not only is this so, but much of the work done in this country by places such as B.R.A.E., the aeronautical establishment at Farnborough, and such establishments as the Royal Radar Establishment at Malvern and Harwell, would be associated quite intimately with the university world in America, because the Americans because that the fundamentally difficult problem of an engineering education is to turn a college graduate into an engineer.
We in this country have established elaborate systems for postgraduate apprenticeships in some of our great firms—and that of the noble Lord, Lord Nelson of Stafford, is one of the biggest. As I have said in this House before, we probably spend as much on that kind of enterprise as we spend on all the engineering schools in all our universities put together. But this is only part of the story. We must somehow make certain that the best research which is being done, wherever it is done in this country, allows opportunities for young men to play a part in it and themselves learn to become engineers. You can teach a man about engineering, when he is in college, only if you teach him up to the first degree standard. He has to become an engineer after he has left or, at least, after he has graduated and has played a part in some kind of engineering programme, which is precisely the kind of thing which most of these research associations and these great establishments exist to foster.
Some of the best work being done in Harwell, in my opinion, loses almost half its point. It produces new numbers, new ideas, new intellectual concepts; but it fails to produce men. The reason is quite simply that the scientific Civil Service expects to recruit young men who will spend their lives in it; it does not expect to recruit young men to train them to go elsewhere. It is one of the glories of these industrial training schemes that the firms who run them have most unselfishly accepted as an obligation the idea that at least half—and in some cases it is up to 60 per cent. or more—of their graduates will leave them. Had it not 489 been for this altruism, the British electrical engineering industry would never have achieved anything like the position it has in the world markets to-day. For many years I think Metropolitan Vickers expected to keep only 40 per cent. of their industrial trainees. Surely, it is absurd to expect that industry will accept an obligation to educate men in this way and not expect our scientific Civil Service establishments to do the same. There is opportunity for education there which would bring science and engineering before the young men in such a way that their excitement would be obvious to everyone. And I am certain that once the interest of the students has been gained the present unwillingness of schoolboys to study science and engineering will have been overcome. It is because of this remarkable idea that a man goes to college and then goes away and is forgotten, it is because the universities are so far divorced from the main stream of the best contemporary research, that most of the difficulties with which we are confronted to-day have arisen.
I hope that your Lordships will forgive me for going perhaps rather far from the main stream of our debate to-day, but I would ask you to believe that the English university education as it now exists is quite inappropriate for this part of the 20th century. The development of postgraduate education is becoming almost all-important in the great American schools. In M.I.T. there are about 3,000 postgraduate students; about 700 postdoctoral students—a type of individual who does not even exist in English universities—and only 3,600 undergraduates. In other words, more than half of the total population is postgraduate. These men are learning to become engineers by learning the sort of research which in this country is taken away from the education field and done in institutions such as the Trend Report has been concerned with. So far as I am concerned, there are two fundamental points. The first is that the Trend Report is concerned with only a small part of a very complex field; and the implications for education of the work which has been discussed by the Trend Report have been ignored. I hope that somehow we can take seriously the possibility of re-thinking the whole relationship between our universities and society as a 490 whole and, in the process of doing this, reconsider the association between the universities at large and the whole research and development programme, both in industry and, more particularly, in the Government's control.
§ 6.8 p.m.
§ LORD FLECK
My Lords, first of all I should like to associate myself with the congratulatory statements that have been made to the two noble Lords who have made their maiden speeches this afternoon. They were two worthy speeches, both so different from one another and yet both contributing materially to the discussion that we are having on scientific affairs. Then I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, for introducing this Motion on three aspects of science which are important to us in this country at this moment.
I do not wish to say much about the Annual Report of the Advisory Council. I think as a Report from a Council which seems to be possibly on the verge of extinction it is an important and noble document and contributes materially to a lot of the questions that are very much in our minds. Then, again, on the Zuckerman Report, it is good that we should be kept up-to-date on the manpower situation, because it is quite clear that this is a matter which is always going to be very much with us.
My remarks this afternoon will be mainly concerned, like those of a number of other Peers, with the Trend Report. I do not want to go into detail with many quotations from the Report, but I regard it as very valuable. Its deliberations and discussions throw a great deal of light on this very complex matter of civil science in this country. The web that has been woven on this is a very complex one indeed, but then, perhaps, that is only to be expected, because in this country we have been in this research business for a very long while indeed, and the complexities have grown up, as indeed they must.
We appreciate, also, that the Government are very much concerned in this research business. After all, it was as long ago as 1710 when the Government 491 gave instructions to the then Royal Society that they were to bevisitors and directors in the Greenwich Royal Observatory".Therefore, it is a very valuable Report, and there are many pieces of wisdom contained in it. It starts with the Research Councils and then works up-wards to the Minister for Science. I should prefer, in my remarks this afternoon, to start the other way, and make a few comments on the Minister for Science and his office, and then come to the Research Councils.
What the Trend Report says about the Minister for Science and his immediate office is, I think, very valuable, and I am a hearty supporter of the proposals in that Report about increasing the power and authority of the Minister for Science. I think that is the way in which the whole organisation should develop. But, of course, in developing the Minister for Science in that direction, he must have the best of support for his ideas and what he is trying to do, and what he proposes to do from week to week. That is where I think the remarks of the Trend Report are valuable to a very great extent. The Trend Report wants to have a new Advisory Council. I suggest that this is psychologically not the best thing to do. We have just had an Advisory Council. It has done, and is doing, a great deal of work, but nevertheless it is subject to quite a lot of criticism. So I think, first of all, psychologically it would be wise, in setting up this new body, that we should avoid the phrase "Advisory Council" and use some other phrase.
Here I should like to recommend what has already been recommended to the Trend Committee and, I believe, also to the Minister for Science, that this body which is to be set up should be called the Civil Science Board. I want to get away from the use of this word "Advisory". The word "Advisory" is always liable to imply the giving of advice which is ignored, and "Board" is much stronger. I do not want it to be called an executive. I want it to be called "Board" so that it will be able to carry a great deal of additional weight. I am encouraged that this is a reasonable thing to hope for, because 492 of the terms laid down in the Trend Report as to what this Advisory Board, as they call it, will have to do. It is quite clear from the Trend Report that they are wanting—and I associate myself wholeheartedly with them—to put teeth into this present Board. That is going to help the Minister for Science.
I will not weary your Lordships by quoting a number of things they said should be done, but I think the climax is in paragraph 114, in which they say:In the light of the Council's recommendations"—that is the important point—the Minister would then seek the approval of the Treasury to the forward planning of expenditure".That would seem to me to imply that the Board are going to have quite a lot of power, that the Minister should be very reluctant to disagree with them, and that if he seriously disagreed with them then, of course, it would be a matter of great importance. That is my first point, that I want to associate myself very fully with the Trend Report, but that I should hope it would go just a little further and have this terminology which would carry conviction with the Council and add more authority. I hope they would have a full-time chairman, because the Board with the constitution proposed by the Trend Report is indeed a very strong Board. The Committee proposed that there should be at least seven scientists, a number of industrialists and at least one economist, all prepared to spend a substantial portion of their time in the interests of their organisations.
When I come from that Board addition to the organisation of the Research Councils, I am sorry that I have some criticism to make and would associate myself in quite a large measure with the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, who has just spoken. First of all, I should like to speak about the D.S.I.R. I am old enough to remember the early days of the D.S.I.R. when Sir William McCormick was the Chairman of its first organisational committee. Sir William did great work in founding it and going round the universities explaining to young people, such as I was then, some of the ideas that he had in mind in forming it.
He had as his supporters none but Fellows of the Royal Society, a judicious 493 mixture of academic scientists like Lord Raleigh, and industrial scientists, as I recall it, like Sir George Beilby. He did great work in forming this, and they approached all this research business from the idea of the unity of research—that research was a unit in itself and that, of course, if it had to be divided it would only be divided in a minor way, and that the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research would constitute the new unit.
In the first Annual Report they used these words:Since science and industry were both indifferent to political boundaries, a single fund for the good of the United Kingdom as a whole was entrusted to a single authority.I suggest that that is a basic concept, to which I would add that the Trend Committee, in considering conditions for 1963, had paid some attention, or more attention, and that they had considered this unity of concept, this welding together, of scientific research work with industrial work which, to my mind, must be the basis for a forward advancement in our technology in this country.
I do not want to go very fully into some of the anomalies to which the classification adopted by the Trend Report has led. But who can have a good word to say of geology research going one way and the work of the Geological Survey going another? Who can have a good word to say of engineering sciences being divorced from the industrial concept? In the same way, I would quote from my oceanographers, who said that they look with dismay at the proposals that different branches of oceanography are going into different sections of the Research Council.
Look at their suggestion about the National Physical Laboratory. Why should the National Physical Laboratory, which has established such a world wide reputation as a laboratory for the advancement of science, be deflected into the industrial side? It is true, of course, that the National Physical Laboratory has contributed a terrific amount to the industrial side of this country, but it has contributed far more and much else in the broader scientific field and it should not be put into the industrial but put into the broad way of science.
494 One could, therefore, criticise a number of things that are proposed. I do not know that I would wish to say very much else except to join in the criticism of the I.R.D.A. I feel that to use the terms "industrial authority" and "autonomous body" is tending to do much to isolate this I.R.D.A. research department away from the broad stream of scientific and industrial research. I repeat that there is, to my mind, a unity of conception in all research work, because who is to say whether a particular piece of work that is being done to-day in this laboratory is going to blossom as an industrial piece of work or as some piece of research which is going to influence scientific thought as a whole?
I conclude by saying—and I support the noble Lord, Lord Todd, in this—that I know that we must have some differentiation, but there must be no undue tendency to fragmentation. I hope that we shall be able to plan research from both the scientic side and the industrial side as a whole, and that there will be some unity of concept in this way which will redound to the better organisation of science, both industrial and civil, in this country.
§ 6.23 p.m.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, the hour is getting late, so I will confine myself to dealing with just one part of this very interesting subject—a point which several noble Lord have already mentioned: the proper utilisation of our scientific and technical manpower in industry. Because, after all, no matter how good the organisation at Government level may be, no matter how tidy the pattern of Research Councils and the rest, unless the graduates in science and in technology are given opportunities to do their job, and unless industry is in a position to make use of their findings, the country itself will derive no benefit from any of these arrangements.
I was particularly interested, and I may say pleased, to hear, in the admirable maiden speech of my noble friend Lord Llewelyn-Davies, that somebody with his authority should state that the building industry spends on research only one-third or one-quarter of what the agricultural industry spends. I am pleased, not because I am in any way happy that the building industry should 495 spend so little, but that it should be realised that there is this very great discrepancy between the amounts spent on research by these two very important and large industries. I could not help wondering whether that difference between the building and the agricultural industries in the amount in any way accounts for the fact that in the last ten years or so the average price of agricultural production in this country has gone down by 1 per cent. whereas the average price of buildings has risen by something like 50 per cent.
I think it may well be the fact that because in the building industry (to take the example that my noble friend has given) so little money is spent on research, the public as a whole—the consumers—have had to pay so much more for the products of that industry; whereas in agriculture, where far more money has been spent on research, the public itself has eventually drawn the benefit. That, surely, is one of the things that we must remember when we discuss this matter. It is in the final analysis the public, the consumer, who will benefit from money spent on research. That is, of course, a very strong argument in favour of using the taxpayers' money to help research, but I do not think that should relieve industry of the necessity of spending its own money, even though industry is only the intermediate beneficiary of the money that has been spent.
I was very glad to hear several noble Lords—I think the first one to do so was the noble Lord, Lord Nelson of Stafford, again in a most valuable maiden speech—talk of the importance of the industrial research associations. Some of the very large firms are able to carry out a great deal of their research themselves, but there are a large number of industries in this country, and small firms in large industries, which are unable to do the sort of research that is necessary. Clearly, with the changes that are taking place in research, the greater need for expensive equipment and highly trained people, some form of co-operative research will be of even greater benefit in the future than it is at the present time; and here research associations have a very great part to play. I would strongly support the suggestion 496 of the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, that a statutory levy should be imposed upon industries in order to pay for these research associations. After all, the Government, in their Industrial Training Bill, have proposed that there should be some such levy; and, important though industrial training is, industrial research is at least as important. Let us not forget that the 53 research associations in existence today spend something under £8 million between them—or a matter of £150,000 each—a year. That is not a very heavy burden to place on industry for the sort of research which is proposed and which ought to be carried out in the future.
Even when the research has been undertaken, we come to the problem of how it is to be got across to the industries themselves, and how they are to be made aware of the value which they can get from it. There, I think, we find a very interesting difference between the structure of our industry at the highest levels and the structure of American industry. My noble friend Lord Bowden, again in a most valuable contribution, gave us some interesting and depressing comparisons between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and English universities. But, taking that comparison one stage further, into industry, there are also some interesting comparisons. And if our industry is to an increasing extent to be based upon science, upon the results of scientists and upon research and technology in all its aspects, we must have at the highest levels in the board rooms men who are fully aware of what science can do, and some of whom, at least, are or have been research scientists or trained as scientists.
It is no good looking upon a scientist simply as a boffin to be put into a back room, paid a salary—possibly a high one—given a job to do and allowed simply to get on with it. If you are going to have expensive scientists—and they should be expensive—to solve the problems for you, then you must have the people who know what questions to ask the scientists and who know how to evaluate the results that they will bring forward. And until we have that change of attitude in the top management of our industry in this country we shall always waste the scientists and technologists we have. If you look at the United States, you find that even 497 as far back as 1900 6.8 per cent. of the directors of American industry were scientists. By 1950 that figure had risen to 20 per cent., and by 1963 it had risen to 36 per cent.; and it is now stated in an article in the Financial Times of February 28 that in the lower levels the proportion of scientifically trained people is still higher. So in the years to come the top management in American industry will contain an even higher proportion of trained scientists. It may be of some significance to realise that in the sixteen years between 1947 and 1963 industrial output in the United States nearly doubled, and in the sank time the number of scientists and engineers in industry more than doubled. So there does appear to be some correlation between the number of scientists who are taking policy decisions and are at the highest levels of industry and the actual productivity and success of those industries.
So far as I know, there are no official figures to show what those proportions are in this country. However, a few days ago I did a very minor piece of research on this matter. I made a list of 36 of the leading industrial concerns of this country, taken more or less at random—a bank, insurance company, some heavy industries, some light industries—all of them big, all of them well known, all of them successful. It so happened that the total number of directors (some of them, of course, were directors of more than one of these companies) came to 504. I divided those directors up into various categories, and I found that—shall we put it this way?—if a man wanted to become a director of one of those companies, his chances were far the best if he happened to be a Member of your Lordships' House. In fact, 10 per cent. of the directors were Members of your Lordships' House; 6 per cent. of them were accountants; 5 per cent. of them were scientists; 5 per cent. were technologists; 4 per cent. were retired senior officers in one of the Services; 3 per cent. of them were former Cabinet Ministers—all, curiously enough, from the Benches opposite. Those figures may or may not have some significance, but what did stand out very apparently was that there were six out of those 36 companies—and I will not embarrass 498 them by naming them—who had an extremely good record of employing scientists and technologists. They were, on the whole, the successful technological companies. I do not think it will embarrass him if I say that one of the outstanding firms is the firm of the noble Lord, Lord Nelson of Stafford.
If you take out those six firms which have a special reason for employing scientists and technologists, you get very different figures. Of those remaining 30 firms, you will see that once again the Members of your Lordships' House have the best chance of becoming directors. Again, they maintain their figure of 10 per cent.; retired Generals, Admirals and Air Marshals came into second place, with 7 per cent.; former Cabinet Ministers, 6 per cent., accountants, 5 per cent., scientists, 3 per cent., and technologists, 1 per cent. Those industries believe that the place of a scientist is mainly in the back room, but on occasion, with a particularly scientifically inclined industry, it is in the board room, but only rarely even there. In all other concerns, in all other not very strictly scientific businesses—and even in some of those which are strictly scientific businesses—if the people to direct the destinies of the company are those who have given their country distinguished services in other fields but have no knowledge whatsoever of science or technology I do not believe we shall get very far.
I strongly support the plea of the noble Viscount, Lord Caldecote, for an interchange between universities and industry. He himself is a very fine but, unfortunately, far too rare example of somebody who has taught at a university and is now directing large industrial concerns. Until we adopt that idea—which, after all, was responsible for the very great successes of German industry many years ago, and indeed to-day; and to a large extent also was responsible for successes of industry in the United States—not only will our progress be very much slower than it should be, but we shall also be wasting a very Great deal of talent. For there is no reason why a Fellow of the Royal Society should be less competent to direct a business than a former Cabinet Minister or General.
499 Moreover, we are giving very scanty encouragement to ambitious young men to enter these vital sciences or technologies. Why should men of ambition, men who want to get on in the world and who feel they have something to offer, deliberately take up the sciences when they know it will hamper their chances of getting to the very top in business? Why should they not go into other spheres which they see will lead them to the top? We must hope for a change of heart among leaders of industry, following the example of those outstanding but far too rare businesses who do this sort of thing, so that there will be increasingly on the boards of both large concerns and small concerns men with special and technical knowledge of the problems concerned, as well as men with a general scientific training who have distinguished themselves in other fields of science and who, as a result, will be able to bring to the problems of present-day industry the full value of a scientifically trained mind.
§ 6.38 p.m.
§ LORD TAYLOR
My Lords, exactly one week ago I was standing at this Box making some—I will not say funny, but perhaps they were intended to be funny—remarks about architects, and I now feel a little ashamed of myself, because my first very pleasant duty is to congratulate my noble friend Lord Llewelyn-Davies on his first-class maiden speech. I did say last week I was lucky he was not here to interrupt me when I was being facetious at the expense of his profession. I have no doubt he will in due course be facetious at the expense of mine.
I should like to say that he and I have been colleagues for many years in the Nuffield Foundation, the Nuffield Provincial Hospitals Trust, and before I came down this morning I picked out a great book he had written and I intended to bring it, but I forgot it. It is called, Studies of the Function and Design of Hospitals, and he edited it and directed the team which produced this great work. It is really the beginning of the scientific planning of hospitals, and the noble Lord's contribution to what one might call the science of architecture, using architecture as a means to clothe social function, is, I 500 think, quite unique. I consider we are fortunate indeed to have him with us in this House, and fortunate indeed to have heard his most interesting maiden speech.
That maiden speech had one peculiarity of special interest: it was the shortest maiden speech I have ever heard, and it contained one essential point. I think that may be a good lesson for all of us. If one hammers away at one special point, let me tell him that one often gets it in this place—at least, so I find. It is when one diffuses one's effort over a wide front that one's beautiful observations get lost in thin air. His special point is one which I propose to support with all my power. It is one of vital and great importance—that we should have a Research Council for the man-made environment.
That is not a particularly beautiful phrase. It is difficult to describe in simple words what we mean by this. It is obvious from what he said that we all know what it is. It is the building industry, the architectural profession, the sociologists who are concerned with road usage and environmental usage, and all the other people concerned, coming together in a concerted effort to apply research to better building and to making better communities for us all. I certainly hope that we shall see this happen. I would add my congratulations to my noble friend on his excellent maiden speech.
I am sure that all of us on this side of the House would wish to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Nelson of Stafford, on his maiden speech. He made many points, but he made one of great interest and importance—namely, the attitude of young people to engineering as a profession. I have noticed myself that the decline which he described in the entry into engineering, particularly mechanical engineering, is associated with a turning away by young people in the schools from engineering as a subject which they regard as respectable. They do not care about engineering in the same sort of way that many of us did when we were young. We regarded engineering as a thrilling thing, as something of a challenge—if we did engineering we were doing one of the best jobs there was. I think we have to build up that feeling again.
501 Smiles' Lives of the Engineers is what turned my father into an engineer when he was a young boy. His father was a surgeon, but he went "wrong". Engineering is a most thrilling and challenging profession, and I personally would sooner be a good, medium-level engineer than a good, medium-level scientist. I should say that it is a far more enjoyable and a far more exciting occupation. Just as a matter of interest, one has noticed how the interest in engineering toys of the Meccano type has gone down. I do not want at all to damage Meccano sales, but I have noticed that my children do not take the same interest in Meccano; they are much more keen on making plastic models of the "Bounty" or something of that sort, or engaging in mechanical or electrical experiments. The Meccano which used to be the way we were all introduced to engineering has, thank goodness! not disappeared, but is not quite so popular as it was. I hope that we can do something inside the schools to restore the prestige of mechanical engineering as a job.
This has been a most interesting debate which my noble friend has introduced, but it has been a rather diffuse one. I cannot altogether blame the Government if they are not quite sure where we on this side of the House all stand, because we stand perhaps in slightly different places; so I will try to make the situation as clear as I can. First of all, I think all of us on this side of the House are critical of the combined responsibility in one person of all education and almost all science. This seems to us to be a monstrous administrative arrangement, and what we want to see as a minimum is a Minister for Science and a Minister for Education with two Secretaries of State, one for schools and one for higher education. That is the first bit of basic structure that I think we should like to see. There are many of us who think that we have to do more than this. I will come to that in a moment.
With regard to the Trend Committee Report, I do not like looking back on what I have or anybody else has said, but just for one moment I want to look back to, I believe, the first speech I made from this Box, which was on Science in Civil Life, on December 9, 1959, when I 502 was followed by the first speech that the then noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, made as Minister for Science. In the course of that speech I was talking about the Medical Research Council and the Agricultural Research Council, and then I came on to D.S.I.R. I said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 220, col. 189]:I must confess that, reading and thinking about these three great organisations, the one I am the least happy about is the D.S.I.R., because it covers such an enormous field. I believe it is impossible for its chief executive (its secretary) to know more than one part intimately".Then I went on to say that there are enormous dangers in getting things far too big and that:Nature found out millions of years ago that animals could get too big; and it is exactly the same with organisations.I suggested that there was an optimum size for any organisation, and, in particular, a research organisation; that that is determined by the capacity of the brain, or brains, at the head to cope with the field of information that is coming up; and that when things get too big the only thing to do is to split them.
That was in 1959; and here we have the Trend Report in October 1963. So, four years later, we get the split taking place. I will point this out to my noble friend Lord Llewelyn-Davies. This is the sort of speed at which we get things done. We do not always get them done ourselves. There is usually an intervening committee. We hope we sow the seeds. Perhaps noble Lords on the other side think we may have said something good, even though they pretend at the time not to think so; but six months or so later they appoint a wise committee and that wise committee then does exactly what we said originally it ought to do.
However, I cannot therefore be critical of the Trend Report, because in the main I think it is sensible sort of stuff. It is the sort of stuff that we were advocating four years ago. In particular, we were advocating the principle of the Research Council as being the right and the best way to run a fairly defined chunk of science. We have had, I should say, a really happy experience in the Medical Research Council. I do not know enough to speak with authority about the Agricultural Research Council, but I have no reason to suppose that it is other than successful. We had hoped to see more of these Research Councils, and 503 to see the D.S.I.R. in fact divide up into such councils as a first step. Here we are getting it now in Trend. We are getting first the Science Research Council. I think it was the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, who was objecting to the phrase "Science Research Council", and certainly another noble Lord was objecting to the term, since the other Research Councils are also science councils. I think it would be better if we could find some term which did not hit the other science Research Councils on the head. Perhaps we could call it "The General Science Research Council".
I have no doubt at all that in due course that Council will have to fragment, just as the D.S.I.R. has had to fragment. May I remind your Lordships that the M.R.C. has already fragmented? The M.R.C. had attached to it an organisation called the Public Health Laboratory Service, which was set up for epidemiology during the war. It was in due course split off and made an independent body (I think under the Minister of Health) simply because the set-up had become administratively unmanageable. This process should be taking place all the time as an area becomes defined. Incidentally, it is ridiculous that any member of a committee should be presented with a wodge of papers as thick as the one the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, was describing. I do not know what the secretariats are doing. It is disgraceful. It simply means that they have not bothered to summarise the material; somebody has not done his homework. I sit on a New Town development corporation, and if we got more than 30 pages to consider there would be a hell of a row! We should feel that our staff had not done what they ought to have done in preparing the material properly.
THE EARL OF HALSBURY
My Lords, I did not want to criticise the secretariat. I am simply saying that more authority to delegate work must be given to the departments.
§ LORD TAYLOR
I agree that there must be a delegation. In the case of individual grants, however great, they should be accepted by the officers and never brought up before the Council. It is the marginal and rejected grants that ought to be looked at by the Council. One must trust one's officers, and one 504 must have officers one can trust. If research is going to flow smoothly, one must teach them to exercise authority in a proper way.
I have no great criticism, therefore, of the principle of the Science Research Council, which I should like to call the General Science Research Council; and certainly I have no great criticism of the proposal of a Natural Resources Research Council. But I certainly hope we shall add these two: Lord Llewelyn-Davies's Research Council for Built Environment, and I hope we shall have as quickly as possible a Social Science Research Council. I hope we shall see included such subjects as the study of demography. If one traces most of the mistakes which have occurred in Government in the past ten years, one finds that most have been due to failures of demographic planning—a proper study of the population at the proper time. Certainly, we want to see this kind of thing in industrial relations.
We want to see a great deal more research into education. I do not think it is wise to have an Educational Research Council. I think this work is properly included within the scope of the Social Sciences Research Council, and there are plenty of other vitally important subjects. There is one institution that I hope will be included within the list of Councils, and that is the Government's Social Survey; and certainly economics and statistics. So whoever is doing the work of the Minister for Science will have quite a handful of research bodies, each with its dependent institutes besides its grant-giving functions. That, in itself, is a hefty job for any Minister to perform.
The real controversy and difficulty arises over the question of the Industrial Research and Development Organisation. This presents a problem, and I cannot pretend to know the answer or indeed to say that we on this side of the House have made up our minds fully on this matter. We all want to see industry making better use of science. We also want to see Government Departments making proper use of science; and how to bring the two together in a sort of totality of applied effort presents a great difficulty. I have never been happy in my own mind that the applications of science by, for example, the 505 Research Associations are properly linked with the Minister for Science and away from the Ministries which look after the individual industries concerned. I should like to think that when an industry has a problem it can turn to a Ministry and to an associated Research Association; and that, equally, when a Ministry has a problem, it can turn to an industry and a related Research Association, so that the Research Associations act, as it were, as active scientific advisers to the Government Department concerned. This is one way by which we could inject practical science into the everyday work of Government Departments.
I do not know whether it is the right way to do it. There are those of us on this side of they House who think that there ought to be a Ministry of Technology and Science, embodying this group of organisations for technological research and perhaps embodying the Ministry of Aircraft Production and certain other Government agencies. I do not know what the right answer is or how it should best be done, but I am by no means sure that it is right to retain the applied research directly relating to industry under the ægis of a Minister for Science whose primary purpose is to fulfil the Haldane principles: to remain slightly aloof from the immediate requirements of society and to keep his eye on the long-term interests of the development of scientific knowledge.
I should like to say a few words about the Research Councils themselves, whether they be the old ones or the new ones. The Medical Research Council staff are not civil servants; the Department of Industrial and Scientific Research staff are, I understand, civil servants. We ought to know whether the staff of the future Medical Research Council, Agricultural Research Council, Science Research Council, Natural Resources Research Council and the Industrial Research and Development Authority are going to be like the D.S.I.R. staff or like the M.R.C. staff. I do not say that the Government necessarily will have made up their minds about this, or that there necessarily should be the same answer all through. Personally, I like the idea of their not being civil servants, because it increases their civil liberties. It enables them to do things they could not do if they were civil servants. We have fought 506 a battle in this House on the part of the staff of the M.R.C.
One finds in the summary of conclusions the suggestion that each of these research agencies should have a chairman who would serve on a full-time salaried basis and possess the appropriate professional qualifications. This is the opposite of what the M.R.C. has. The M.R.C. has a secretary who is a whole-time professional, a highly-qualified officer, and he is the chief executive of the Council; but there is a non-medical, non-professional, part-time chairman and there are part-time Council members. The secretary is the servant of the Council. I think that is right. It is a good relationship, and I should prefer to see a small, part-time, paid Council. I do not see why on earth the people who serve on these Research Councils should not be paid a small salary, just as I am paid a small salary for serving on a New Town development corporation. I get £500 a year as a part-time salary. These people are bound to give up—as indeed they do—a great deal of their time to running the Council, and I should like to see the same sort of structure, with all the emphasis on the chief executive as the servant of the Council.
I have been asked by my noble friend Lord Addison to ask the noble Earl a question about the dissolution of the Privy Council Committees, out of which the Medical Research Council and the Agricultural Research Council are constituted. My noble friend Lord Addison asked me to put this question because his father created this particular arrangement in the 1920s, and he did it, so my noble friend thinks, as a safeguard against excessive Treasury pressure on a Ministry Vote. Because they were controlled by the Privy Council the theory was that the Committees would not be in such a difficult position as if they were on a simple ministerial Vote. Does the proposal to dissolve the Privy Council Committees mean anything more than a nominal change? Does it mean that the Committees will themselves be less free than they have been in the past? Or will they be able to do their job in the same fairly autonomous way that they have done it in the past?
My noble friend Lord Shackleton made many points of importance, but one particular point that I want to 507 reiterate is the importance of overlap. Whatever lines you draw in dividing up and slicing up science, there is bound to be a muzzy area of overlap. I think it very important that we should keep these muzzy areas of overlap, so that when a man is turned down, having applied to the Medical Research Council for a grant in microbiology, he can then have a shot at the Agricultural Research Council, where he may succeed. Extreme administrative tidiness, particularly in grant-giving bodies, is entirely to be deplored. So I hope that we shall not have too much tidiness and too much attempt to get rid of the overlap.
My noble friend Lord Shackleton said a few words about the so-called "brain drain," and I would echo very much what he said. We have not sought to make this a hotly political debate. We have tried to think about the matter seriously, to try to make serious and sensible and, we hope, useful suggestions. I want to say just one or two words about the "brain gain" which goes on on a small scale, and which I personally see around me in our New Town of Harlow, where we fit into particular ways. We have several American firms who have established industrial research laboratories here. They have brought over a certain number of American staff, and they have certainly retained in this country a certain number of scientists who might otherwise have been tempted to go away. The second thing that has happened is that some of our industrial firms have been engaged in re-recruiting, in recruiting British people over in America. Here I should like to ask the Government whether anything can be done to assist firms to join in a co-operative effort with the Harry Hoff Committee, which is responsible for recruiting or re-recruiting for the Civil Service or the Government scientific agencies British scientists who have gone over to America. It appears that quite often the Harry Hoff Committee finds scientists who are quite keen to come back, but for whom there is not necessarily any precise place in the Government organisation. Surely it would be a good thing if industry combined with the Harry Hoff Committee, so far as possible, in this re-recruiting job.
508 I want to follow up a remark of my noble friend Lord Bowden on this very important question of the postgraduate training of our scientists who are going into industry. I support him very strongly indeed in his remarks about training our Ph.D.s. As I understand it, the training of a Ph.D. in an American university is a very different affair from what it is here. For one thing he is trained in America; he takes a degree in America; he attends courses after he has taken his basic degree, and he has to get credits for each academic year studied. Nothing like this happens here. In my experience, when one has got one's basic degree one is given a research problem to do. One may be able to join in a few seminars but as a rule there is certainly no organised further education. If I am wrong, I hope that my noble friend Lord Bowden will interrupt me. We have not begun to use the Ph.D. as a method of educating and broadening the scientist, rather than of just giving him a chance to learn a research technique.
§ LORD TODD
My Lords, might I interrupt the noble Lord? I do not think it is quite true to say that there are no post-graduate courses given as part of Ph.D.s in this country. It is true that there are not nearly as many as there should be, but there are universities in which attendance at certain courses during a period of Ph.D. is expected. Students are not normally examined on them, but attendance is required.
§ LORD TAYLOR
My Lords, I am delighted to hear what my noble friend Lord Todd has just told me. We are obviously beginning to move in the right direction, and I am sure he will agree that the more we can move in this direction the better. Because my industrial friends tell me that if they can recruit an American Ph.D. they find he is a better man than a B.Sc.: he is a broader man, and he is ready to have a go in any particular direction. Whereas so often, if they recruit a British Ph.D., they find, first, that he feels that he ought to be in a university and that industry is second best; and, secondly, he feels that he wants to continue on his line, rather than tackle the line the industry wants him to tackle. I think we have to do something about this 509 difficulty if we are to make our scientists really useful inside industry: because, as has been said in this debate, it is no good scientists going into industry and being completely undisciplined. One has to be disciplined if one is going to work in an industrial organisation.
There is one other aspect of the "brain drain", so-called, and the "brain gain", if it can be so termed, that I want to emphasise: I refer to what my noble friend Lady Summer-skill said about womanpower in industry and in science. I am sure that what she said about science teaching in schools is absolutely right. I find a considerable reluctance on the part of my industrialist friends to employ women scientists in laboratories—goodness knows why! I suppose it is because they are afraid they will leave them. Yet when they get good ones they are so delighted; and they find women so successful, because so many industrial research jobs demand a high degree of meticulous repetitiveness for which women are superb. For instance, in pathology women in Britain have made an outstanding mark in just this kind of work, as I am sure my noble friend Lady Summerskill will agree. I am always surprised that industry does not make more use of women and does not do more about encouraging science, as she said, within our girls' schools, as opposed to our boys' schools. I think we should all like to say "Thank you" to industry for what it has done already for the boys' schools.
I think I have covered practically all the ground I wish to cover, except that there was one point made by my noble friend Lord Bowden. I thought he was just a little unkind to the Trend Committee—not unkind, but a little hypercritical, shall I say. of the Trend Committee—because, although I am sure we all agree with him that this is only part of the problem and part of the solution, we must get this organisational side of the machinery of Government right; though I must say I was appalled to hear from him how we are not yet beginning to implement Robbins as we ought to be implementing it. It is a most depressing story indeed.
My Lords, I have done my best to give your Lordships a picture of the way our minds are working; and there is one 510 thing I would say in conclusion. However we organise ourselves in science, there is a vital stage which, unless it is looked after, will cause everything to go wrong: that is the size of the bore of the pipe through which the money flows to make Government science tick. If we have too small a bore running to these organisations, things will cease to happen; and we must make the money flow generously. If we make it flow generously, we shall certainly have a bit of wastage at times, but we shall get results, and get them quickly. In my experience, where senior scientists have gone to America the reason has not been lack of patriotism—after all, scientists are not primarily patriotic animals; their loyalty is primarily to science—but has been an endless series of minor, trivial irritations, simply because the pipe-line is not flowing quickly enough and is not big enough. Unless we make sure that it is, however good our scientific organisation is we shall get nowhere; whereas if we do do that, we can overcome all sorts of imperfections in our scientific organisation. My Lords. I am sure we should all like to thank my noble friend Lord Shackleton for having made this debate possible, and, I am sure, thank all noble Lords who have taken part in it.
§ 7.13 p.m.
THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE MINISTER FOR SCIENCE (THE EARL OF BESSBOROUGH)
My Lords, I should certainly like immediately to join with the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, for having initiated what I think has been a most important debate on scientific policy and scientific manpower. It ranged, perhaps, a little beyond that, but we have kept to these subjects pretty closely. The debate has indeed been graced by most distinguished contributions, very wise contributions, not only from the noble Lord, Lord Todd, the Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Scientific Policy—a post that makes him perhaps the most qualified of all your Lordships to speak this afternoon—but also from the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, who, as a former managing director of the National Research Development Corporation, has great knowledge of these matters.
511 We have also had most valuable contributions from other noble Lords, in addition to the two maiden speeches. The noble Lord, Lord Nelson of Stafford, who has unfortunately had to leave us this evening, certainly interested us greatly; and the knowledge which he derives from his association with a great group of companies and from being the son of his father undoubtedly has made his contribution very valuable. The other maiden speaker, I am glad to see, is still with us: the noble Lord, Lord Llewelyn-Davies, whose most distinguished services as an architect are well known, not only in your Lordships' House but throughout the world; and I would support all the remarks which the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, has made about him. We hope that he, too, will be a frequent contributor to our debates, and we certainly are very happy to welcome both these noble Lords in this House.
A great many important points have been raised by noble Lords, and I shall do my best, in the time I have, to reply. It will be convenient, perhaps, to deal first with certain main themes which have arisen in the debate, and then to pass to more general points. I take first the organisation of civil science. I was very glad that several noble Lords paid a well-deserved tribute to the Trend Committee. The Government believe that the Trend Committee have produced both a valuable survey and wise recommendations. I was especially glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Nelson of Stafford, say that these proposals amounted to what I think he described as a "really workable organisation". Some of the criticisms of the Report have not taken account of the terms of reference of the Committee.
Two main points have been raised. Several noble Lords, especially the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, and the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, have criticised the decision to have one Minister responsible for the whole of education and science. On this, I would say that the Government did not lightly set aside the recommendations of the Robbins Committee that one Minister should be responsible for the universities and for science. There are close ties, both between higher education and the schools and between 512 the universities and the Research Councils and other research institutions. The Government feel that it would be a mistake to separate Ministerial responsibility for the universities, either from that for the schools or from that for the Research Councils, which are an increasingly important source of finance for university research.
The noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, wanted to know, I think, whether, in using the word "diffusion", my right honourable friend the Lord President intended to cover both peripheral concentrations and the permeation of Government policy by scientific attitudes. I can assure the noble Earl that this is so. On February 24 my right honourable friend said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 690 (No. 59), col. 67]:In my judgment this principle"—that is to say, of diffusion—is wholly necessary … if we are to retain a proper balance and coherence to our scientific effort … and, above all, a due sense of importance to the weight of scientific opinion in Government affairs.These solutions we have adopted will, I believe, preserve both the links I have mentioned—that is, between higher education and the schools and between the universities and the Research Councils. To the objection that the range of subject-matter from the primary schools to industrial technology is more than one Minister can reasonably cover, I would reply that the Research Councils, the Atomic Energy Authority and the University Grants Committee are bodies with a high degree of autonomy. The kind of general supervision which is exercised by the Government is by no means beyond the capacity of a Secretary of State, who has much wider responsibilities, and of a Minister of State, whose responsibilities are not so wide.
Several noble Lords—the noble Lord, Lord Nelson of Stafford, the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, and others—have expressed anxiety over the division of the D.S.I.R. into two separate organisations.
THE EARL OF BESSBOROUGH
To begin with, let us take the two.
The noble Lord, Lord Todd, on the other hand, I think, favoured this proposal. I was glad to hear the tribute that the noble Lord, Lord Todd, made 513 to the work of the D.S.I.R. Council and staff. I join with him in stressing that what is now proposed, so far from being a criticism of their work, is designed to reflect the fact that in recent years it has increased in scope and importance and to enable it to be pursued on an increasing scale and with increasing urgency. I should like here to say that I very much agree with the noble Lord, Lord Nelson of Stafford, in what he said about the need to build a closer relationship between industry and the universities, and, I would add, the Government Research Establishments.
There are, I think, two important misapprehensions about the proposal to reorganise the D.S.I.R. The first is that the Industrial Research and Development Authority proposed by the Trend Committee would be strictly limited to applied research. This is entirely wrong. The "IRDA" as I should like to call it for short, will be able to conduct in its stations, or to support in the universities, basic research relevant to industry, just as the D.S.I.R. has done. The second misapprehension is that the division of D.S.I.R.'s work between the Science Research Council and the Industrial Research and Development Authority will widen, rather than narrow, the gap between the universities and industry, to which the noble Lord, Lord Nelson of Stafford, referred. I suggest that this will not, in fact, he so. I say this for two reasons. In the first place, there will be a new Advisory Council to the Minister. The noble Lord, Lord Todd, outlined the important part which this body has to play; and I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Fleck, that it is the Government's intention that this body shall be a strong and influential one, although, constitutionally, it must still be "advisory". Its task will include the obtaining of a proper balance of resources between research and the universities related to industry. It will be necessary for close liaison to be maintained between the Science Research Council and I.R.D.A. and the other Councils.
Secondly, an Industrial Research and Development Authority of the kind proposed will contain representatives of technology, and of the basic sciences in the universities. But it will be possible to select from among these people whose work and knowledge is relevant 514 to industrial interests. Those university scientists whose interests lie in a speculative field of research, such as nuclear physics and radio astronomy, will still receive support from the Science Research Council and will not need to be represented in IRDA. We believe that this solution will produce a more compact and concentrated organisation for the promotion of research and development of industrial importance. It will be under the direction of a whole-time chairman who will have had industrial experience. I would say particularly to the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, that great stress will be laid on the importance of what he described as "the overlap"; and I might also add that it is certainly the Government's intention that IRDA should establish close-working relations with the Ministry of Aviation and defence science.
While dealing with some other points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, I should like to refer to this question of whether or not the employees of IRDA and the Research Councils should continue to be civil servants. It was intended by Trend that all Research Councils and IRDA should not be staffed by civil servants. However, a large number of civil servants are employed in bodies which will come under the Industrial Research and Development Authority and the Science Research Councils. The Government are considering their position and consulting the appropriate staff organisations before taking any decisions. Another point on which the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, wanted an answer from me was on the question of the dissolution of the Privy Council Committees. This is a purely formal change; the Councils will be able to carry on the Committees' functions as autonomous bodies and to take their own decisions on scientific matters. They will, of course, have some overall supervision in the matter of the allocation of funds from the Minister and his advisory body.
There is only one point of importance on which the Government are not in agreement with the general lines of the Trend recommendations. The Government have decided not to include the National Research Development Corporation within TRDA, but to leave it as a separate body under the Board of 515 Trade. This decision was supported this afternoon by the noble Lord, Lord Nelson of Stafford, and by the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, who, as an ex-director of the Corporation, has great experience. The main reason for this decision is that the N.R.D.C. must exercise commercial judgment in selecting development projects for financial support. This requires a governing board which must, I think, inevitably be different in character from that which is needed to control other research activities; or, shall I say, research activities, properly speaking, as opposed to development activities.
The noble Lord, Lord Taylor, also spoke of the division of responsibility in this field of industrial research. He felt, I think, that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development should be responsible not only for the N.R.D.C. but for the Research Associations and industrial development matters. He put this out as an idea, rather than a fundamental doctrine. He wanted to see N.R.D.C. and the Research Associations coming probably near the Board of Trade; and he wished to see basic research divided organisationally, I think, from applied research and development activities. In short, I think he would go even further than the Government have gone in modifying the Trend Committee's recommendations in regard to industrial research. The Government did, of course, consider this possibility; but they felt that it would be mistaken to separate applied research and the Research Associations from the basic and applied work in the stations of D.S.I.R. which will come under IRDA, or to draw a hard line between research and development work by excluding all development from the scope of IRDA.
The noble Viscount, Lord Caldecote, who has also told me of his regret at having had to leave us, does not want to see N.R.D.C. separated from the D.S.I.R. industrial research stations; and I think he must agree with the noble Lord, Lord Todd, and favour an organisation similar to that recommended by the Trend Committee but with IRDA responsible to the President of the Board of Trade. The Government felt that the importance of maintaining a close relationship between D.S.I.R.'s industrial stations and 516 scientific research in the universities made it desirable to have all these organisations under the same Minister. I think there are very sound arguments for doing so. It will maintain the link between university research and industry just as we must maintain links between industry and Government-sponsored research.
The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, referred with approval to the decision to set up a Natural Resources Research Council, as proposed by the Advisory Council on the advice of the Slater Committee. I can confirm to him that the original proposal that the Nature Conservancy's research functions should he separated from its functions in the field of conservancy has been dropped by the Advisory Council and the Trend Committee. Several noble Lords, especially the noble Lords, Lord Todd and Lord Fleck, raised questions about the area of the Council's responsibility, particularly in relation to geography, geology and oceanography. On this, I can say that the Government are aware, from their consultations with interested bodies, that there are points which need to be carefully considered and the views expressed by noble Lords this afternoon will certainly be borne in mind. Final decisions on the responsibility of this Council have not yet been taken by the Government.
I must now take leave of the subject of organisation and turn to some of the comments of noble Lords on the Advisory Council's Report on Scientific Manpower. I will certainly not fall into the trap which the noble Baroness laid for me and speak also of "woman-power", but I would speak of woman's brains—the noble Lady has some very fine ones herself. I can tell her that I have noted her figures carefully and will go into them. I do not think that I can say much more at this stage on what the noble Lady said, but I shall read her remarks with great interest, as I know will my right honourable friend.
The main conclusion of the Report of the Committee on Scientific Manpower is that from now onwards attention should be concentrated on shortages in particular disciplines. Shortages of mathematicians and electrical and mechanical engineers are foreseen. The Manpower Committee is conducting 517 studies of these shortages. In the case of mathematicians, I am glad to say that the number of graduations in 1964 is expected to be 35 per cent. greater than in 1961, and this trend is likely to continue.
The Government entirely agree that the facts that the number of students qualifying in technology is stationary, and that there is a decline in output of mechanical engineers, are serious matters. This is not due to insufficient provision of places in the universities and colleges of advanced technology, as the noble Lord, Lord Bowden, may confirm. The present position is that the places available are not being filled. The subjects which students read at the university must be their own free choice, but we must do all we can to ensure that they are free to choose technology and are not ignorant of its importance. The noble Lords, Lord Todd and Lord Bowden, made important observations on this point.
I wonder whether it will not be possible for us to go further into the possibility of students transferring from the natural sciences to engineering after a year or so, if they wish to do so. I understand that they are unable to do that now, although I understand that students in Germany can in some cases do so. I am glad to see the noble Lord, Lord Bowden, nodding his head on this point.
My right honourable friend the Lord President and I have been making serious efforts to seek the aid of the B.B.C., the Independent Television companies and the Press, in an effort to present to the public and to schoolboys and schoolgirls the interest and excitement of a career in engineering. I am glad to say we have received a most encouraging degree of help. Several new series will be shown by both B.B.C. and I.T.A. within the next twelve months. I think that these will do a great deal to put before the public themes which we consider are really important.
The noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, asked me to explain certain points about figures in the A.C.S.P. Report. He asked whether the figure for university research, on page 48 of the Report, excluded or included grants from the Research Councils. The answer is that 518 these grants are excluded. This is a table of Government expenditure and Research Council grants are included under the expenditure of the Research Councils. I do not think that he would wish me to go further into that point now, but I can certainly have a conversation with him.
On the question of emigration, which was referred to by noble Lords opposite and by the noble Lord, Lord Todd, my right honourable friend made a full statement on this subject recently and, therefore, I shall put this matter as concisely as possible. The Government sought and obtained the advice of the Advisory Council on emigration as a result of the Royal Society's Report on it issued last year. We agree with the Advisory Council's assessment in Appendix "A" of their Report. Emigration of scientists is a natural and a good thing, if it is reasonably well balanced both in quantity and quality by immigration. This has not been so in relation to the United States in recent years, and the loss now being incurred is more, I think, than we should stand with equanimity. The Advisory Council, at our request, advised us what to do.
The noble Lords, Lord Shackleton and Lord Taylor, asked what we had done and I will tell your Lordships. As regards university salaries, a review has for some time been in progress before the National Incomes Commission. Evidence was given to them about emigration of scientists by my right honourable friend's Office and by the Royal Society. It is understood that the Commission is nearing the completion of its task. The question whether more senior posts should be created is closely connected with the question of salaries. The expansion of the universities now in progress will automatically increase the number of these posts. Meanwhile, as the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, mentioned, approval has been given to the creation of eight Royal Society professorships, which will be financed by Exchequer grant to the Royal Society. I may add that two of these have been filled by scientists who have returned to them from the United States.
Thirdly, the procedure for awarding research grants has been reviewed and substantial improvements have been 519 made in the time taken to deal with applications. Fourthly, the Government authorised last July the payment of £200 a year in respect of each post-graduate research student maintained by the Research Councils, as a subvention towards the cost of their research work. This will provide an additional £700,000 this year directly available to scientific departments in universities. This sum will increase as the number of post-graduate students rises.
§ LORD TAYLOR
My Lords, can the university spend this £200 per research student as it wishes? It has not to spend the £200 per student. For instance, it can employ one laboratory assistant for three, or whatever it is?
THE EARL OF BESSBOROUGH
My Lords, so far as I know, the noble Lord's interpretation is correct.
Fifthly, there is an additional £20½ million for recurrent grants to the universities over the next three years. This, as your Lordships know, was recently announced. It contains a substantial element for improvement of standards and should therefore ease the position in regard to technical assistance. Then, lastly, post-doctoral fellowships in this country can now be awarded to a potential candidate who is going abroad, and it can be taken up on his return. This is a way of ensuring that very promising scientists can be assured of a post in this country when they return. There will be some 40 per cent. more postdoctoral fellowships available in 1964 as compared with the preceding year. I hold out no prospect that these steps, when completed, will stop emigration altogether—and, frankly, it would not be in the traditions of this country that they should. But, taken with the expansion both of the universities and of national expenditure on research and development, I believe that these measures will do much to ease the situation.
The noble Lords, Lord Shackleton, Lord Taylor and Lord Halsbury raised the subject of social sciences. On this I can only say that last year the Government set up a Committee under Lord Heyworth to review the research being done in these subjects and to consider the whole question of arrangements for 520 giving support to them. This Committee will certainly consider whether a separate Research Council is needed for these subjects. In the meantime, I regret that I cannot make any statement on the matter. The sociological and demographic problems of town planning, building and land use, which have been referred to by the noble Lords, Lord Llewelyn-Davies and Lord Taylor, all fall within the field of this Committee. It may be some time before the Committee have completed their Report, since, as your Lordships will realise, they have to cover a very wide field indeed—as the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, said, from NATO to the Beatles. I am sure that the Heyworth Committee, as well as the Government, will take full account of all that the noble Lord, Lord Llewelyn-Davies, told us on this matter.
I was going to devote a special section of my speech to congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Bowden, on what I thought was a brilliant speech. I am sure that he will accept that simple remark, especially when I tell him that I read his illuminating article in last week's New Scientist as I did several other articles in a periodical which, like the weekly journal of science, Nature, has now become one of my "Bibles" Lord Bowden's criticism of the terms of reference of the Trend Committee and his call for a second Report were most interesting, and I am sure that his call for a second Report will be given serious consideration by the Government. What he told us about the budgets of American universities I can confirm, having visited America frequently during the past years. He gave us a very good idea of what we in this country have to face, especially when he told us of the budget of the M.I.T.
My Lords, I wish that I could cover more of the points raised by noble Lords in this debate, but I think I have probably said enough. The noble Lord, Lord Walston, made an extremely good point about the scientist in the boardroom, and I shall look at his statistics with the greatest interest. I think that this is a most important point.
My Lords, we have covered a wide range of subjects, and behind all these thoughts concerning scientific policy, organisation and manpower lies the vast 521 spectrum of science itself—science which may be said to have sprung from the arts and, over the generations, has moved forward to the amazing achievements of our own time. The history and progress of science has indeed been exciting, and the future is exciting too, as it is in engineering. Some of your Lordships may recall that excitement in first reading that passage in Alexander Pope's Essay on Man which runs:Go, wondrous creature! mount where Science guides;Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides;Instruct the planets in what orbs to run, Correct old Time, and regulate the sun …Let us hope—and this is without doubt a non-Party matter—that in evolving our scientific policy we shall indeedteach Eternal Wisdom how to rule",and that none of us, whatever our political allegiance, will, in Pope's words,drop back into ourselves and be a fool".
§ 7.46 p.m.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, the Minister has done very well indeed. He has been well promoted, and we are all very pleased. I should like to thank all noble Lords (they have gone a bit thin on the Government side), and, of course, there have been so many congratulatory remarks about my noble friend Lord Llewelyn-Davies and other noble Lords, like the noble Lord, Lord Nelson of Stafford, that I do not think we need go on congratulating ourselves any further. This has obviously been a diffuse debate: whether we have been diffuse or concentrated at the periphery, I am not sure. It is always necessary to study the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, to get the full flavour of what he said at the time, and this I shall do.
We have opened a few more windows on to this subject, and some principles have emerged from this debate which I think we shall want to pursue further. I think the concept of environmental science is obviously going to be more important, whatever solution is applied. I hope that the Heyworth Committee will not be too long in reporting, because the matter is getting pretty desperate, and, frankly, I do not believe that the politicians will be able to solve 522 some of these problems without the help of scientists in a coherent form.
I agree very much with what my noble friend Lady Summerskill said about womanpower—of course, I depend particularly on them in work. The reluctance to make use of women in this way seems to me to be quite extraordinary, because I should have thought that one thing that could be particularly combined with childbirth was research, which may not be so easy in other types of work, like management or production—and by "production" I mean another form of production. At any rate, I think the point is taken.
There are two other things that struck me in this debate. One is the problem of the postgraduate qualification or training, which is much too big a subject to be dealt with rather superficially. I remember that some while ago the Institute of Physics (I think it was) produced a report on postgraduate training; and there have been others. I do not know how far the Advisory Council or the Royal Society have looked at this in detail. It may be that we could have an appendix, or we might remit this matter to the noble Lord, Lord Todd, who I hope will continue to play the valuable and distinguished part he has played in interpreting the work of his Committee. It is always nice to have the author of a Report we are debating explain modestly a little more of it.
The other point which has come out in all this reconstruction and reorganisation is that we shall land into a problem of what might be called mobility—the mobility to move from industry. There will be people who will be just as opposed at having to leave the Civil Service as my noble friend Lord Taylor is in favour of trying to ensure that they are not civil servants: one has the reverse side of the coin. The employees of the Natural History Museum and the Trustees of the British Museum are anxious to be given Civil Service status because there are certain protections and procedures. It will be a very difficult problem, of course—and not only in Government science. We were assured that the Government were thinking about it, but I wonder what they are going to find by way of solution.
One could continue further on so many subjects, but I will close by thanking 523 your Lordships, and by saying that I think this all helps us along. I hope that we shall be able to continue the chapter next year, and possibly even sooner. With that, I ask leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.