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Cancer Research

Volume 640: debated on Tuesday 9 May 1961

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asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science, in view of the fact that progress in cancer research is limited, not by lack of finance but by the number of experienced scientists available, what plans he has for extending the provisions for post-graduate research in the life sciences.

The main bar to rapid progress is neither a lack of funds nor a shortage of experienced scientists engaged on the problem, but a relative lack of new ideas and promising leads. My noble Friend will give his full support to any encouraging new lines of study.

As regards post-graduate research financial support continues to be provided by the Medical Research Council to an increasing number of research workers in aid of an extensive programme of clinical and laboratory investigations. A list of these will be found in the Council's last report.

While thanking the Parliamentary Secretary for his Answer, may I ask him whether he does not agree that if we want to have promising ideas and new methods of approach it may well be necessary to have suitable men who are capable of delivering them to us? Does not that mean that we must give more money to promising young people in this form of science?

We do, of course, continually increase year by year the amount of money we spend directly, through the Medical Research Council, upon cancer research. The figure has risen from £175,000 in 1949–50 to £650,000 in 1960–61, and I am advised by the Council that merely to devote more staff to this research would not guarantee any advance towards a solution of this problem and might well retard solutions being found to other scourges of humanity.

Would my hon. Friend fully accept the statement contained in the Question that cancel research is in no way limited for lack of funds?