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Atomic Energy Authority (Research, Development And Design Contracts)

Volume 640: debated on Tuesday 16 May 1961

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asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science why the Atomic Energy Authority in the current financial year are reducing the value of research, development and design contracts placed with industry, universities and other organisations.

The Authority's expenditure on these contracts in the current financial year is expected to be about £1 million more than that actually incurred last year. The published estimates show an apparent reduction in expenditure partly because the estimate of expenditure last year was not achieved and partly because there has been some re-allocation between Subheads.

Is my hon. Friend aware that in evidence before the Select Committee on Estimates in 1958–59 the Authority said that there would be a substantial increase in the proportion of work given out to industry? The Select Committee took the view that this was very much in the interests both of economy in Government expenditure and of efficiency of scientific policy?

Yes. I remind hon. Members of figures which are strictly comparable since the date of the Committee's reporting. The figure of £2·2 million in 1958–59 had risen last year to £3·7 million and we believe that in the current year it will be about £4·7 million.