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Scientific Manpower And Resources (Appointment Of Committee)

Volume 416: debated on Thursday 29 November 1945

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asked the Lord President of the Council whether the Government will carry out an early survey of the national position in regard to scientific research and development work.

Yes, Sir. I have decided to appoint a committee of leading scientists and others to consider the policies which should govern the use and development of our scientific manpower and resources in the next ten years. Manpower is the most urgent problem, and I am accordingly asking the committee to submit an interim report on very broad lines at an early date so as to facilitate forward planning in those fields which are dependent upon the use of scientific manpower. At a later date the committee will be asked to make recommendations as to the establishment of permanent machinery for carrying out surveys as to the best use of our scientific resources in the national interest.

The committee will consist of Sir Edward Appleton, Sir Alan Barlow, Professor Blackett, Mr. Geoffrey Crowther, Sir Alfred Egerton, and Sir George Nelson. I am not yet in a position to announce the name of the Chairman, but to save time the committee have been asked to start their inquiry at once under the temporary chairmanship of Sir Alan Barlow, with a view to putting in hand as quickly as possible such preparatory work as they consider necessary.

:Will the committee have power to inquire into the scope of the work of the Department of Scientific Research? Will that form part of its task?

:I think so. My impression is that the terms of reference are fairly wide. I think that can be done.

Will the terms of reference be sufficiently wide to enable the relationship between this committee and the proposed National Investment Board to be fully gone into?

I am not quite sure on the face of it what the connection would be. The terms of reference broadly are to consider the policy which should govern the use and development of our scientific manpower and resources over the next 10 years. If there was a prima facie case that science should have some relationship to the work of the Investment Board it would certainly be a subject which could be discussed.

When the right hon. Gentleman states that the terms of reference "broadly are" so and so, does he mean that this is the first draft of the terms of reference, or, if the terms of reference are not already fixed, could we not have them in the OFFICIAL REPORT?

They are substantially as I have stated. I have not been quoting textually, but the hon. Member can take it that there is no conflict between what I have said and the actual terms of reference.