HC Deb 16 May 1968 vol 764 cc274-5W
49. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what arrangements have been made by Her Majesty's Government for co-ordinating research in civil and defence research establishments and universities in the United Kingdom into the resources of the sea-bed.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

This responsibility rests on the Natural Environment Research Council, of whose Oceanography arid Fisheries, and Geology and Geophysics Committees the Hydrographer of the Navy is a member. Arrangements are in hand for permanent representation also of the Ministry of Technology on these Committees.

The Council has its own Institute of Geological Sciences and National Institute of Oceanography; it supports marine geological and geophysical research undertaken at certain universities, reviews all work going on in this field, and ensures that activities are co-ordinated and complementary. Inter-departmental machinery exists to define user requirements and assist N.E.R.C. in the direction of its programme and the selection of priorities.

Co-operation with the establishments of the Ministry of Defence (Navy), of the Ministry of Technology and of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, in respect, for instance, of the development of instrumentation, equipment, and analytic techniques to assist research and exploration is close.

Activities in this field are at present concentrated on the Continental Shelf around our shores. Exploitation of the resources of the deep ocean bed is much further removed from practical possibility.