§ 2.43 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 whether, in view of the urgent need for more marine technologists, especially for the North Sea, they will consider, in consultation with the Science Research Council, setting up a department in a university for study and training in this important subject.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY UNDERSECRETARY of STATE, NORTHERN IRELAND OFFICE (Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge)
My Lords, at present, the Science Research Council supports some 10 post-graduate courses in marine technology in general. In the more specific field of off-shore engineering, which I am inclined to think that the noble Baroness has in mind, the Council supports four post-graduate courses. In addition, in October 1975, the Council formed a Task 855 Force to study the need for research and training in marine technology in the widest sense. This body is now urgently preparing its report, which almost certainly will be presented to the Council within the next two months. I must not anticipate its findings, but I believe that it will recommend something more comprehensive than the noble Baroness has suggested in her Question. It will probably advocate a national approach involving a number of institutions of higher education rather than the setting up of a single department in a university.
My Lords, while thanking the noble Lord for that helpful reply, Iv gather than £135 million is allocated to the Research Council and about £37 million to general research. So I hope technologists will receive considerable priority, because I think money is being spent on other matters which are less important than those I have mentioned in my Question.
§ Lord DONALDSON of KINGS-BRIDGE
My Lords, I do not think anyone would doubt the need for supporting with adequate research the vast investment off the shores of these islands. I do not think I can go into any financial details. The priorities are firmly in the hands of the Science Research Council with such assistance as can be had from industry, which I hope may be considerable. Of course, in certain ways the Department of Education and Science helps, too, as does the University Grants Committee. So I think we may look forward confidently to this very important field being properly looked after.