HL Deb 02 June 1965 vol 266 cc1123-5

4.4 p.m.


My Lords, with the leave of the House, perhaps I might take this opportunity to make a Statement which is being made in another place by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science.

The Report of the Committee on Social Studies is being published to-day. The Government wish to express their gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Heyworth, and the members of the Committee for the time and effort which they have devoted to a thorough survey of a wide field, and for the care and thought with which they have prepared their recommendations. The social sciences are concerned with people and the way they live. These sciences have an important contribution to make to the development of a progressive society, and to the solution of the social problems of modern life.

The Government accept in principle the main recommendation of the Committee that there should be a Social Science Research Council, to be appointed by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science. They accept that there is considerable scope for stronger support and better co-ordination of research in the field of social studies, and they believe that the Committee are right in concluding that this could best be done with the help of a Social Science Research Council, while also maintaining support through the University Grants Committee and, where appropriate, Government Departments.

This proposal raises a number of detailed issues which will require further consideration, including the new Council's terms of reference, its scope and membership, and the arrangements for budgetary control. Moreover, the Government, while accepting that further provision should be made for research in the field of urban planning, do not believe that the Committee's proposal for a Joint Board of the various Research Councils would be satisfactory. They are considering what provision should be made for this purpose. The Government accept that some increase in financial support for social science research is desirable. Before committing themselves to detailed plans, however, they propose to await the advice of the Council itself. The scale on which additional resources can be made available will have to take into account other claims on our resources.

The Government will not at this stage be expected to comment in detail on the various other recommendations of the Committee. But they recognise the important rôle which social scientists can play in the formulation and execution of policy, and they intend to ensure that Government Departments are so organised and staffed that information and advice from social scientists are available on an adequate scale.


My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord for repeating that Statement to us. It is not possible at present to make any sensible comment on it because, of course, we have not yet had an opportunity of reading the Report or its recommendations. But we shall study it with great care, and no doubt at a future date we shall be able to debate it in more detail. In the meantime, I should like to associate myself and my noble friends with the expression of gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Heyworth, and the other members of the Committee for the work they have done in preparing this Report. I think it is appropriate that we should be particularly grateful from this side of the House, as the Committee was, of course, established under the previous Administration.


My Lords, may I re-echo what the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, has said, particularly in our thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Heyworth, and his Committee? Of course I agree that we cannot profitably discuss this matter until we have seen the printed Report. Therefore, I would only say that it seems as if, as they say in the nursery, the Government are all in favour of social science. I hope that I may say to Lord Snow, in a friendly way, that I think that we probably would have had support for this subject from every political Party. Therefore, I think the Government are in a particularly strong position.


My Lords, I am grate-to both noble Lords for those remarks. I think the point is well taken that this Committee was set up under the previous Administration; and, of course, adequate occasion will be given to Parliament to discuss the Government's proposals when they are formulated.