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Programme And Activities

Volume 531: debated on Tuesday 27 July 1954

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17.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works, as representing the Lord President of the Council, what activities of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research are included in the 5 per cent. of its programme for which no resources are to be made available between now and 1959.

On 8th December last, I stated that by 1959 the total resources of the Department should be adequate to cover some 95 per cent. of the activities projected in the plans covered by its 1947–48 Report. This statement did not imply that any specific activity would be omitted but only that the general level of activity would be about 5 per cent. less.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that that does not alter the position at all, that what he has said simply confirms that some part of the programme of the Department which was considered to be essential will not be done, whether it be 5 per cent. of one section or 5 per cent. of another? What my Question sought to elicit is what is it that was projected which will not be done? Surely the hon. Member can tell me that.

Yes, but the 5 per cent. is not one project or another; it is spread over the general activities of the D.S.I.R. I might add that the gross expenditure on the D.S.I.R. has increased from £5–8 million in 1952 to £7 million in the current year.

But is the hon. Gentleman aware that that is no increase in real expenditure? Why does he evade a simple question which seeks to find out what it is that is being dropped?

I have already said that no specific project has been dropped. As to the former part of the Question, I have already given an answer and do not wish to repeat myself.

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether the loss in efficiency that is indicated by the decrease in expenditure might have been made up if money had not been spent so readily on Lord Vansittart's house, of which we have had no notice?

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is a little apprehension, especially in East Kilbride, about the slowing down of this work, and is he aware that there is not any real economy in holding up scientific and industrial research, because our future depends on our efficiency?

I entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman. Since the planned expansion was agreed by the Treasury some months ago, progress has been made and will continue to be made.

18.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works, as representing the Lord President of the Council, whether he is now in a position to state what are the non-permanent and additional functions which were envisaged for the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research in his statement of 8th December last.

My statement referred to provision for certain services which are not a permanent part of the Department's activities. The only existing service of any size in this category is the making of grants to universities for nuclear physics research. My reference to additional liabilities was to cover any new responsibilities which the Department might have to assume. Cases in point relate to the grant-in-aid for the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, for which additional funds are provided in the Department's current Estimates, and activities in the field of industrial productivity financed under Conditional Aid.

Whilst thanking the hon. Gentleman for that information, might I ask him whether these additional and non-permanent activities are not being financed to some extent at the cost of the regular functions of the Department, since, although there is a separate allocation of money, that allocation is used to pretend that there is an increase in the budget of the Department whereas, in fact, there is not?

No, Sir, that is not so. In fact, the money for the financing of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research was financed initially by a Supplementary Estimate which was put before the House. The research on industrial productivity is financed by Conditional Aid, and the grants for the universities are an integral part of the financial backing of D.S.I.R.