HL Deb 22 July 1977 vol 386 cc611-2

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 they regard it as prohibitively expensive for a Ministry to ascertain the cost of a defined advertisement in a national newspaper.

The MINISTER of STATE, DEPARTMENT of EDUCATION and SCIENCE (Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge)

No, my Lords. There should be no difficulty in obtaining the cost of a single advertisement, but the Question which my noble friend Lord Vaizey asked me on 14th July related to 27 advertisements placed by 19 universities and polytechnics, dealing with a large number of postgraduate courses and research projects for which they are individually responsible.


My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for that Answer. Is he aware that it took me exactly 10 seconds on the telephone to find out from the Guardian its rate per column centimetre? It is £11 per column centimetre. Is he further aware that it took me about five minutes, with the little pocket instrument which one carries about, which is graduated in centimetres, to find that on the day in question there were approximately 135 column centimetres of advertisements which were referred to in the Question? I have done a calculation without a slide rule, and I reckon that that works out at approximately £1,485 for the advertisements on that day. Altogether it did not take me more than 10 minutes—

Several noble Lords



Does my noble friend agree that such calculations can easily be done, and will he confirm what he said previously—namely, that it is not unreasonable for universities to spend such a relatively small sum of money in advertising important fellowships?


My Lords, I agree at once, without further argument, with the second part of my noble friend's supplementary question. We take the view that sponsoring by the Science Research Council of various courses and research work by a number of scientific instititions is very valuable, and we are perfectly aware of the fact that the institutions cannot get the best people to benefit without advertising for them. With regard to the research work which my noble friend has put in, we have to ask ourselves whether it would be useful, and how often it would be useful, to employ fairly highly paid civil servants on this work. If my noble friend is willing to do it voluntarily, it would probably he more to everybody's benefit than if we set the troops on to it.


My Lords, will my noble friend bear in mind that, while his duty is manfully to defend the tongue that Shakespeare spoke, and the faith and morals which Milton held, and the beauties of Turner and the beauties of Constable, this is also the blessed isle over which the Lord said, "Let Newton be!", and all was light? Will he also bear in mind that the effect of this particular Question as it is phrased, being read in Hansard in Houston, Texas, might conceivably weaken the NATO alliance?


My Lords, I am a little unclear as to the drift of my noble friend's question, but I feel sure the answer is that I do not think he need worry.

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