HL Deb 26 June 1974 vol 352 cc1469-70

2.50 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps are being taken to evolve a productive strategy for Government expenditure on research.


My Lords, the requirement boards and committees in the Government Departments concerned with applied research are, together with those carrying out the research evolving strategies to direct their research expenditure in support of Government policies. Basic scientific research is carried out by the Research Councils and institutions of higher education with finance from the science budget of the Department of Education and Science, which receives advice on its deployment from the advisory board for the Research Councils.


My Lords, while thanking the Minister for that reply and while welcoming the creation of the requirements boards as a considerable improvement in the Governmental machinery for administering their research and development expenditure, may I ask the Minister whether he agrees that it is more than ever necessary that Governmental support for applied research should be directed towards clear-cut objectives, the attainment of which would clearly be of benefit to the national economy? If he does so agree would he encourage the boards in the moulding—and indeed in the remoulding—of their programmes (because they have inherited a great deal from the past) to keep this point of view in the forefront of their minds?


My Lords, I quite agree with the noble Lord. We need a positive strategy directed to the most productive industrial applications, and this point is accepted by the relevant Departments. In the case of my own Department, we have seven requirement boards as well as the chief scientist's board, and we have recently appointed an experienced individual from industry to help in precisely the kind of work to which the noble Lord referred.