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Geological Survey

Volume 640: debated on Tuesday 16 May 1961

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asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what progress has been made towards the completion of the primary and revision Geological Survey of the United Kingdom.


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science when the Geological Survey for the United Kingdom is expected to be completed.

In 1960, 392 square miles of primary six-inch survey were completed, as well as 317 square miles of revision survey. Rather more than threequarters of Great Britain has been surveyed on this scale. At the present rate of progress, the primary six-inch solid and drift survey will be complete in about fifty-five years. It is hoped to reduce this to thirty-five to forty years.

Is the Minister aware that there has been considerable delay on this project? That is not the fault of the Department concerned, but we need more geologists and there are plenty of geologists who would love to be recruited for this purpose. Will he see that the staff of the Geological Survey is increased? Will he use his initiative to do that?

The hon. Member will recall the Answer I gave him a week ago today with regard to the difficulty the Geological Survey has in recruiting geologists, although I agree that this is one of the few disciplines in which we appear to have sufficient graduates. At the moment there are two difficulties which prevent quicker progress on the primary survey. The first is that we are doing nearly as much secondary survey as primary survey. Secondly, we are now working on the most difficult mountainous regions.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that hon. Members on both sides of the House appreciate the magnificent work done by the surveys and by the men engaged in them? We appreciate that probably this is one of the finest geological surveys in the world. Nevertheless, will he assure the House that he will do his utmost to speed up this survey, because the search for minerals and extractive non-ferrous ores is most important to this country?

I agree that this survey is important. I think we can say that progress has been speeded up in recent years. The hon. Member will recall that my noble Friend, in another place, gave an Answer in November, 1957, in which he said that he expected the primary survey not to be completed for seventy years—that is, sixty-six years from now.