HC Deb 29 June 1971 vol 820 cc99-100W
Sir H. Legge-Bourke

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she will make a statement on the action taken by Her Majesty's Government since the publication on 24th July, 1969, of the Third Report from the Select Committee on Science and Tech nology (Paper 400) on the Natural Environment Research Council, especially in respect of the recommendations made in Paragraphs 29, 33, 34(c), 44, 46, 47, 54, 55, 58, 63, 65, 73, 82, 90, 93, 99, 102 to 104, 111, 119, 130, and 141 to 143, and on the reasons for any variations from, or non-acceptance of, any of these recommendations.

Mrs. Thatcher

I have carefully studied the recommendations of the Select Committee. Some of those mentioned by the hon. Member, namely those in paragraphs 33, 82, 90 and 93, do not relate to matters within my responsibility. But with many of the Committee's comments I broadly agree, and steps are being taken by the Natural Environment Research Council, in so far as action lies with them, to bring about the results which the Committee recommend. This applies to paragraphs 29, 34(c), 44–46, 58, 63, 65, 99 and 130.

On the matters touched on in paragraphs 47, 54–55 and 73, the Council share the Committee's concern and are doing what they can to improve coordination and make needs known.

In two cases, paragraphs 110–111 and 119, the Committee's suggestions are not accepted. In both cases, it is consistent with present policy that the Natural Environment Research Council should be given the responsibility for basic research, in meteorology and in tree science.

Finally, in paragraphs 102–104 and 141–143, the Committee touch on important issues which I agree require further careful examination.