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Volume 640: debated on Tuesday 16 May 1961

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Reactors, Calder Hall And Chapelcross (Performance)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science how the actual performance of the Calder Hall and Chapelcross reactors of the Atomic Energy Authority compares with their planned performance.

Operating experience and advancing knowledge have resulted in a steady increase in the heat output of the reactors to about 20 per cent. beyond the original design figure. The point having now been reached at which more steam is being produced than can be converted into electricity, the turbines are being rebladed.

May I ask my hon. Friend to indicate how this information compares with improvements in conventional power stations?

The difficulty here is that we are in the middle of the process of reblading the turbines. Therefore, we are not yet in a state of having reached the maximum production of electricity for which we hope.

Nuclear Reactors (Research)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what progress is being made with the research being conducted into the production of nuclear reactors to be used for research and teaching purposes.

Several small reactors suitable for research and train- ing are available from British firms. Research into their development and production is primarily a matter for the firms which make them.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that there is a feeling that from the point of view of exports we are losing this race to the Americans? Can he give an assurance that every firm will be encouraged, along with the Atomic Energy Authority, to produce this type of reactor for export?

Certainly we fully desire to encourage the production of goods which may be exported, but equally I think it must be left to the judgment of the individual firms whether or not there is a sufficient market for them to be justified in devoting any given sum to research and development.

Can the hon. Gentleman say how many reactors of this type have been exported, in view of the fact that the Americans, I understand, have twelve in countries throughout the world?

Will the hon. Gentleman say how this coincides with the Prime Minister's statement when he went to the F.B.I. imploring those people to get on with the job of increasing exports?

Geological Survey


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.

Department Of Technical Co-Operation


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what action is being taken or is proposed to be taken by his Department for the supervision and employment of scientific personnel in the Department of Technical Co-operation.

None, Sir. My noble Friend has no responsibility for the supervision and employment of scientific personnel in Government Departments which are responsible to other Ministers, as the new Department of Technical Co-operation will be.

Diseases Of The Tonsils


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science whether he will request the Medical Research Council to consider the problem of disease of the tonsils, and, in view of the 200,000 tonsillectomies undertaken each year, to report on the value of this operation.

No, Sir. The Medical Research Council has already considered the problem of diseases of the tonsils and has advised on the planning of two investigations which are now in progress on the value of tonsillectomy. It will give sympathetic consideration to any other promising lines of research in this field.

Will the Minister give any view about when we may expect the information to which he has referred? How long will it take?

Frankly, I do not think that either the Medical Research Council or the Office of my noble Friend would yet be prepared to forecast a date when these researches will reach a satisfactory conclusion. But I can assure the hon. Member that the Council tells me that they are going ahead satisfactorily.

Arterial Disease


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what research is being conducted on an optimum dietary for the population as a whole, and on the deficiencies in the average dietary which may have a relationship with arterial disease.

The Medical Research Council is supporting an extensive programme of research on problems of nutrition which should lead to a better understanding of optimum dietary requirements and the relationship between diet and arterial disease.

May I thank the hon. Member for his Answer, especially in view of the fact that it appears that almost every affluent society in the world is digging its grave with its own teeth?

I am glad that it is doing work with its own teeth. I can assure the hon. Member that these investigations will continue.

Industry (Scientific Research)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what are his proposals to improve existing arrangements for the application of scientific research to industry.

The Department of Scientific and Industrial Research is seeking to help industrial firms to apply the results of research by constantly improving and extending technical liaison with industry. This will be done by its own stations: by the grant-aided research associations: by grants to regional technical information centres: by ensuring early publication of, and adequate publicity for results: and by making the world's scientific literature accessible through the new National Lending Library for Science and Technology.

While thanking the Minister for that comprehensive reply, which revealed that a lot of good work is being done, may I ask whether he is aware that many hon. Members consider that this Department of State in the second half of the 20th century is far more important than the Treasury? Is he aware that British light engineering industry, dependent as it is on machine tools, is being frustrated in its competition with the light engineering products of other countries all over the world because we are so backward in our machine tool industry? Will he intensify his efforts in getting the British machine tool industry to keep pace with light engineering techniques?

The Question refers to industry as a whole and raises particularly the problem of communications and how, so to speak, we can inspire the pagan to pay for his own conversion. The Department recently had two very successful conferences on this aspect of the matter. Many excellent ideas were brought forward, and we are working on a number of them.

While the Parliamentary Secretary has given a very good reply, as my hon. Friend said, may I ask whether he is satisfied that research is being used properly by small firms, in view of the Report of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy which takes the contrary view?

Certainly one is not satisfied. That is one reason why there was recently a conference in London, which I was able to attend, of the research associations on the application of research in industry, and a very successful conference in Swansea on "Science and Industry—the Problem of Communication", which was opened by my noble Friend, Lord Brecon.

Coal Utilisation


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what type of research into coal utilisation is carried out by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what research into coal utilisation is being conducted by institutions for which he is responsible or which are in receipt of Government grants for such purposes.

Three of the research associations which are grant-aided by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research are primarily concerned with coal utilisation. These are the British Coal Utilisation Research Association, which deals with coal as an industrial and domestic fuel; the British Coke Research Association, which is concerned with the production from coal of coke for metallurgical and, to a much less extent, domestic use; and the Coal Tar Research Association, whose problem is to get the greatest value from the tar produced as a by-product during coal carbonisation.

In view of the fact that in the best interests of our national economy there is a need for further improvement and expansion in coal utilisation methods, will the hon. Member impress on his noble Friend that there is a need for D.I.S.R. to be given extended authority in order to widen its range in scientific research in this very important field? Will he draw his attention to this?

These three research associations are doing very valuable work. The hon. Member will realise that the adequacy or inadequacy of the total effort on coal utilisation is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Power as part of his general responsibility under the 1945 Act.

Will the hon. Member bear in mind the alternative sources of heat energy which are becoming more readily available and particularly the desires of the Tory Central Office and certain of his hon. and right hon. Friends about the importation of cheaper fuels, including imported coal, and remember that the nation's great asset of its coal resources should be utilised to the fullest extent and our mines not allowed to become derelict? Is he not aware that we need a still greater measure of research into coal utilisation, regarding coal not just as a heating agent but for all possible processes? Will he ask his noble Friend to consider the co-ordination of the efforts of all people concerned to bring this about?

There is a great deal of co-operation between the research associations which I mentioned, and between the National Coal Board, the Central Electricity Generating Authority, the Gas Council and the appliance and equipment makers. We have gone a very long way towards bringing about the state of affairs which we should like to see. I assure the hon. Member that the Coal Utilisation Research Association has very much in mind the kind of points which he raised.

Is the hon. Member aware of the figures given by the recent Wilson Report on this very subject, showing that the amount of money spent on coal research is inadequate? The figure for D.S.I.R. is only £253,000, which is small. We need more expansion.

The figures which are quoted for D.S.I.R. in relation to the research associations can be fairly misleading because one of the aims of the research association movement is to try to get private enterprise to pay a larger proportion towards research. The total income of the Coal Utilisation Research Association last year was just over £450,000, that of the Coke Research Association just over £150,000 and that of the Coal Tar Association just under £113,000.

Will the Minister give an assurance that there is the fullest possible co-ordination between the Minister of Power and his noble Friend on this matter?

Mineral Resources


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what research is being conducted into the better use of United Kingdom's mineral resources.

The Geological Survey and Museum of the D.S.I.R. produces maps and memoirs which give basic information on the United Kingdom's mineral resources. The Warren Spring Laboratory and the National Chemical Laboratory undertake research on processing ores and extracting metals from them. Research into the better use of minerals is also undertaken by various grant-aided Research Associations, industrial firms and universities.

In the latter part of his Answer the Minister spoke of research into the better use of minerals. As many other countries, especially small countries, have a limited supply of rare and non-ferrous minerals and metals, are the Government and the hon. Member's Department encouraging the use of other materials instead of using some of our rare and scarce mineral resources for the production of ornaments and other utility articles in the homes?

If the hon. Member means plastics, there is a Plastics Research Association. The British Ceramics Research Association does a great deal of investigation into various types of raw material suitable for the production of pottery, for example. If the hon. Member wishes to ask any question in particular about plastics and other substitutes for minerals, perhaps he will put it down.

Office Of Minister For Science (Scientific Staff)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science by how much it is expected to increase the scientific staff of the Office of the Minister for Science during the year 1962–63.

I am not at present in a position to announce plans for the year 1962–63.

Does not that Answer indicate that we are not able to expect any considerable increase in the number of scientific staff at the Office of the Minister for Science? Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that the most recent figure we had was, I think, that eight qualified scientists were employed there? Are we to take it that this reflects the importance the Government attach to the Office of the Minister for Science as a means of planning the scientific and technical resources of the country?

The hon. Lady has been mislead by an article which appeared in the magazine Today dated 6th May. She must remember that the Office of my noble Friend is in fact an administrative and co-ordinating Office, and a great deal of the work which would be done in the type of Ministry of Science which the Socialist's Party's pamphlet suggests is done by the administrative staffs of the research councils.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that not all of us read the same magazines as him, and I certainly never saw the one he mentioned? Is he further aware that we want the Office to be rather more than a channel for conveying information, valuable though this may be?

On the first point, I naturally apologise to the hon. Lady. I hope that she will have more interesting reading matter in the future. On the second point. I do not accept her definition of my noble Friend's Office.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that there is a feeling that the new Office, of which he is a Minister, should be strengthened? It can be strengthened only by more science graduates being used in the administrative field. How many science graduates are employed in his Office?

Out of about sixty persons in my noble Friend's Office, eighteen are in the administrative grade. Of the latter, half have a degree in science or mathematics.

Domestic Equipment (Fire Hazards)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science in what way the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research contributes to the formulation of standards for domestic equipment with which there is associated some danger of fire.

The Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, jointly with the fire insurance companies, runs and finances the Fire Research Organisation, with a Research Station at Boreham Wood, Herts. The Organisation, through its membership of Committees of the British Standards Institution, advises on the fire hazard of domestic equipment, and also undertakes any research or investigations required by the Institution for this purpose.

How much time is spent studying these problems affecting domestic fire hazards? There appears to be some unfortunate and wrongful thinking in the country that in fact great attention is not being paid to this matter. It would be helpful if my hon. Friend could give us a little more information.

The Fire Research Organisation devotes a considerable amount of its time and money for this purpose. I am not prepared in answer to a supplementary question to give the actual percentage. If my hon. Friend cares to table a Question, I will do my best to answer it, though it may not be possible to reach it until after the Whitsun Recess.

National Physical Laboratory


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what steps the National Physical Laboratory is taking to increase its contacts with the universities and colleges of advanced technology.

Contacts between the National Physical Laboratory and industries and colleges of advanced technology are being increased by the placing of research contracts; by providing practical experience for students on "sandwich" courses; by taking undergraduates as vacation students and postgraduates of proved research ability as research fellows; by the employment of university staff as consultants, and by the organisation of frequent joint discussions.

Road Accidents


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what research aimed at reducing road accidents the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research expects to carry out on the new road research track at Crowthorne.

The Road Research Laboratory intends to research into many factors affecting road safety. These include skidding, the behaviour of vehicles during emergency braking, and when colliding with kerbs of various types and with fixed barriers or with other vehicles; also such traffic engineering problems as the layout of road junctions, the timing of traffic signals, control systems for junctions, and the design of road signs.


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what investigations have been made by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research into the effectiveness of speed limits in reducing road accidents.

The Road Research Laboratory has analysed data from a number of countries on the speed of traffic and on accident frequency before and after speed limits were imposed.

It was found that speed limits, although exceeded by a high proportion of drivers, produced a major effect in reducing very high speeds. Their imposition in urban areas was usually followed by a marked reduction in serious accidents, but had little effect in reducing speeds just above the limit or on the number of slight accidents.

Can my hon. Friend confirm that this significant information will be made available to those authorities which have the duty of approving applications for the imposition of speed limits?

The information that I have given the House is based upon a report presented by Dr. R. J. Smeed at the Fifth International Study Week in Traffic Engineering, at Nice in 1960, and it was reproduced in the January, 1961, issue of Roads and Road Construction. I believe that this is readily available, but I will look into the matter and if it is not I will have a copy sent to my hon. Friend.

Coast Erosion


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what advice and guidance the Hydraulic Research Station, Wallingford, of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, is providing on the prevention of coast erosion.

The Hydraulics Research Station has recently published a general paper on coast erosion and defence, covering engineering questions on which information is most frequently required. It also undertakes on repayment the investigation of specific problems and has recently examined in model experiments designs for sea walls at Dymchurch, the Humber, Herne Bay, Portobello and Kirkcaldy; and in each case was able to recommend improvements.

How is the information available to river boards and other coast protection authorities? It is up to them to apply for it or is it made available when they are submitting specific schemes? What is the exact machinery?

The paper to which I referred is published by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research through the Stationery Office and may be purchased for 1s. 3d. Any specific question which local authorities, river boards and others may care to send either to our Office or direct to the Hydraulics Research Station will meet with the promptest of attention.

Beaches (Oil Contamination)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what arrangements have been made to keep coastal local authorities informed of progress in the research being carried out by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research to help to solve the problem of cleaning beaches which have been polluted by oil.

The Warren Spring Laboratory has sent to all coastal local authorities in England and Wales interim suggestions for dealing with oil contamination of beaches.

Like my hon. Friend, I was somewhat surprised when I learned that in fact it had not automatically been sent to Scottish local authorities. Should any Scottish local authority be afflicted with this very difficult problem of oil contamination of beaches, if it will let me know I will certainly see that it receives a copy of this interim report.

How far has this research gone towards solving the problem of pollution of beaches? Is my hon. Friend satisfied that enough research is being carried out into this problem, which is causing great distress in coastal areas?

I was at Warren Spring on Friday and was very impressed by the enthusiasm with which the Laboratory is approaching this problem. We certainly have not yet got a satisfactory solution to all the three forms which oil pollution takes on beaches. We still have a long way to go, but we have at any rate made a little progress.

Is my hon. Friend satisfied that enough money and energy are being devoted to the study of this problem, which is causing tremendous distress in coastal areas? Will he press forward with the utmost vigour to ensure that a solution is arrived at as soon as possible?

The suggestions made in the recent letter to local authorities will prove fairly helpful. My hon. Friend will realise that scientific research can take a considerable time, because one cannot demand of scientists that they produce a result by Thursday.

Natural Resources


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science if he has yet received a report from the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy on research into natural resources.

No, Sir. The Council is setting up a special committee to look into this matter.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that, if the nation is effectively to face its competitive struggle over the next decade, a knowledge of our natural resources is a priority? Will he undertake to expedite the research necessary for this information?

The hon. Gentleman will remember that in the recent A.C.S.P. Report the Council said that it was inviting its Biology and Allied Sciences Committee to consider the problem. It was because of the extent of the problem and the importance placed upon it by the Advisory Council that the Council has now decided that the appointment of a special committee to look into the problem is warranted.

Can the Parliamentary Secretary give us any information as to when the committee is likely to report? This is urgent, especially the problem of water conservation and land utilisation. Is not the Parliamentary Secretary aware that it may be necessary to create a separate research organisation to deal specifically with the problem? Will he consider this?

On the second part of the supplementary question, I assure the hon. Member that we have all thought very much about the desirability of setting up a Natural Resources Research Council, which was not as such mentioned in the Labour Party's pamphlet. I cannot possibly answer the question contained in the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question.

Atomic Energy Authority (Research, Development And Design Contracts)


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.

Island Of Rhum (Deer)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science how many stags and hinds were culled by the Nature Conservancy on the Island of Rhum in the 1960 stalking season; what was their average weight; and what the total deer count was in the summer of 1960.

One hundred stags and 139 hinds were killed in the 1960–61 season—shooting of hinds continued into the New Year. The average weight was 12½ stone for stags, and 8½ stone for hinds. There was no count of deer made in the summer of 1960, but the spring census up to mid-May 1960 was 1,446 adults.

Is my hon. Friend aware that the only way in which this stalking can be efficiently done is by experienced stalkers? Is my hon. Friend further aware that the weights quoted by him are well below the average for that part of Scotland? Does my hon. Friend appreciate that by not letting stalking the Nature Conservancy is losing income to the extent of about £1,000 a year? Subject to the normal safeguards which are imposed on any sporting rights, will my hon. Friend arrange for stalking to be carried out for the 1961 season?

On the question of the weight of these deer and the extent to which the Nature Conservancy can be held responsible, I will make further inquiries. With regard to my hon. Friend's substantive point, the Nature Conservancy informs me that it does not consider that stalking could be let for a sufficient sum to justify the disorganisation which would inevitably result to the scientific work, particularly as it could be let only to a person with experience of deer, and not to the richest sportsman bidding for it. I understand that for scientific reasons it may, on occasion, be necessary even to cull certain animals.

I agree with what the hon. Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Kimball) says about underweight stags and hinds, but can the hon. Gentleman indicate whether, in Rhum, any arrangements are made, as used to be the case in years gone by, for winter feeding in order to keep the deer population in the way it should be kept?

I have no doubt that the Nature Conservancy is doing all that should be done for the proper management of the deer, in the light of the scientific reasons for its being there at all.

Nature Conservancy (Research Station, Wales)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what was the total cost of the Nature Conservancy's new headquarters building and research station in Wales; and if he is satisfied that work done there does not duplicate similar research by other Government Departments.

The final cost, including purchase of the site and the office and scientific equipment, is not expected to exceed £47,500. I am satisfied that there is no duplication of research work by other Government establishments.

Is my hon. Friend aware that at the opening of this white elephant one of the most distinguished scientists said that it was primarily concerned with grassland research? Is the Minister entirely satisfied that adequate grassland research is not already done at Aberystwyth, and by the Hill Farming Research Station?

Yes. I am so satisfied. This station is studying such things as the influence of variations of rainfall and geology in Snowdonia upon the vegetation and productivity of the land, mainly at altitudes in excess of 1,200 ft. The Grassland Research Station is concerned in scientific research concerned with the economic utilisation of lowland grassland, and the Welsh Plant Breeding Station deals primarily with the breeding of grasses, clovers and some cereals. The Conservancy's Research Station is not concerned with any of those subjects.

Will the Minister resist any attempt on the part of his back benchers to persuade him not to carry out this important scientific research? He mentioned what this body is doing. We accept that the research carried out at Aberystwyth is first-class, but we must have still more research. Will he send the Labour Party's pamphlet on science to his hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Kimball) so that he can be educated?

I must not deprive the hon. Member of the joy of sending his pamphlet to whom he will. I will consider the point raised in the supplementary question. As for the other point, it is never a bad thing for hon. Members behind the Government to be careful of the expenditure of public money.

Machine Tool Industry


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what action he is taking to apply scientific development to the machine tool industry in England and Wales.

The Department of Scientific and Industrial Research supports the Machine Tool Industry Research Association, which was set up last year following negotiations between D.S.I.R. and the industry, and the Production Engineering Research Association, both of which carry out scientific development work. Research of direct value to scientific development of the machine tool industry in all parts of the country is carried out at the National Engineering Laboratory, and also in the National Physical Laboratory. In addition, twelve grants totalling over £170,000 have been awarded in the last two years to six universities and two colleges of technology in England and Wales for research and development work in this field.

That, again, is an excellent reply. But our difficulty is that in the last five years the British producers of consumer durables have been forced, to an increasing extent, to buy their machine tools abroad. The imports of machine tools are rising tremendously rapidly. Money is being spent on research and development, but it is obvious that the British machine tool industry is not expanding scientifically to the extent that it should do in order to compete with foreign manufacturers. Will the Minister do something about this?

If I attempted to answer that supplementary question I should be trespassing upon my answer to Question No. 33.


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science if he will make a statement on the Government plans to further research into the machine tool industry.

The Machine Tool Advisory Council, which is fully representative of the industry and is under Board of Trade chairmanship, meets regularly to examine all matters affecting the machine tool industry other than labour matters. In particular, the Council is reviewing the progress made in implementing the recommendations of the Mitchell Sub-Committee, the full report of which was published last November.

Are we ever likely to reach a position in which the importation of special-purpose tools will be prevented, and when those tools can be made in this country? What is the position of the smaller type of firm, with particular reference to the sub-contract firms? Do they seek advice? If so, how do they receive it?

Only at the end of last year we set up the new Machine Tool Industry Research Association, and the volume of research now is definitely improving.

That is not the answer to my supplementary question. May I persist, Mr. Speaker?

When are we likely to reach a position when the importation of special-purpose machines into this country will stop, and we are able to manufacture them ourselves? I take it that that would be the point of research. When are we going to reach that position?

When we start research we can never say when we are going to reach a final conclusion. The hon. Member must remember that if other nations are working hard on research into machine tools, from time to time one nation will have the benefit of a new discovery, but it may be that other nations will make similar new discoveries in relation to different types of machine tools. The state of affairs which the hon. Member postulates may be impracticable on a world-wide basis.

Tectonic Map


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what part the Geological Survey and Museum is playing in the preparation of the pro posed tectonic map of the world; and what progress has so far been made in the construction of this map.

The tectonic map of the United Kingdom has been prepared by the Geological Survey as part of a co-operative scheme for a tectonic map of Europe, which it is hoped will in due course form part of a similar map of the world.

Can my hon. Friend tell the House what the word "tectonic" means?

A tectonic map portrays major deformations and dislocations which have affected the rocks since their formation, changes resulting from earth movements, and what I am informed is called volcanicity.

Gear-Cutting Machines


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what contribution the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research has made to the problems of increasing the accuracy of gear-cutting machines.

Research and development work at the National Physical Laboratory and the National Engineering Laboratory has contributed to a tenfold increase in the accuracy of large modern gears over the past twenty years. Gears up to 16 feet in diameter can now be made with an error of one quarter of one-thousandth of an inch from the true form and spacing of the teeth.

Is my hon. Friend aware that his statement will be greatly welcomed by industrial interests in Birmingham? Can he state what further developments are taking place?

Yes. The automatic error-correcting system recently developed by the National Engineering Laboratory has been applied to a gear-cutting machine. As a result of collaboration with a British firm, gears of exceptionally high precision can now be produced economically by industry.

Lung Diseases


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science if he will investigate the cause of the high incidence of bronchial diseases among industrial workers.


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science if he will consider appointing a committee to carry out medical research into bronchitis, emphysema and other lung diseases.

This is the function of the Medical Research Council, which already has a number of committees advising it on research into the causes and treatment of bronchitis, emphysema and other lung diseases, including the effect of occupation and air pollution.

Does not the Minister realise the seriousness of this matter and that there are no objections to his Department carrying out some survey or scientific investigation into the causes, in addition to the study being made by the medical committees that are already in existence?

The whole question of future industrial health surveys, particularly in relation to bronchitis, is at present under consideration by a subcommittee of the Ministry of Labour's Industrial Advisory Committee, on which the Medical Research Council is represented.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary make certain that his Department does something further about this matter? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there are 30,000 deaths from bronchial diseases every year in Britain, and that 26 million working days are lost each year? Is he also aware that four of every five of that figure happen to be in the industrial North, and that, therefore, hon. Members who represent that area are especially interested in ensuring that research into these diseases is carried out? Will the Parliamentary Secretary assure hon. Members that he will do something more in this matter?

The Medical Research Council is doing a very great deal of work on this subject. It has no less than ten committees actively engaged in research work in this field.

Can the Parliamentary Secretary say whether the Medical Research Council is paying special attention to those industries where workers are subjected to the inhalation of irritating dust, such as miners, pottery workers and foundry workers? If not, will the Parliamentary Secretary urge the Medical Research Council to pay special attention to this matter?

As has already been announced, the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance is undertaking an inquiry into the incidence of incapacitating diseases in different occupations and areas. This will, to some extent, cover the problem, although the Medical Research Council covers research into causes such as occupation and air pollution.

Multi-Purpose Pipelines


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science whether his Department or the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research have sponsored any research into the use and operation of multi-purpose pipelines for the transport of both liquids and solids.

Would not the Parliamentary Secretary agree that research into this subject would be extremely valuable, and that an appreciation of what is, and what may be, possible would be of value to the Minister of Transport and Minister of Power and a guide to hon. Members when considering future legislation?

The D.S.I.R. is doing a great deal of research into the problem of transporting various sorts of liquids and solids by pipelines. With regard to the question of multi-purpose pipelines, it is not always possible to include all conceivable projects in any given research programme, but the Department is always willing to discuss with industry the part it can play in assisting research and developing techniques in every field.

Air Pollution


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what progress is being made towards obtaining figures to show the degree of air pollution in various parts of the country and as a national average.

The Warren Spring Laboratory of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research is organising a national survey in collaboration with local authorities. By October this year, measurements should begin to become available which will eventually enable reliable national averages to be calculated for various types of locality and will thus provide a yardstick for assessment of local measurements.

Can the Parliamentary Secretary say whether the inquiries being made by local authorities will include local circumstances and will take into account the possibility of fumes being directed by the prevailing winds into concentrated areas, such as my own constituency, in the district of Wilmington, in which one factory is concentrating all its fumes into one confined area, to the annoyance of the local inhabitants?

The siting of the apparatus, and the apparatus itself, is under the direction of the Warren Spring Laboratory, and I can assure the hon. Member, from my visit there on Friday that they are actively concerned about the difficult problem of the acute concentration of air pollution in one small area of a community.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary taking steps to help local authorities to get the pollution officers they need?

That is a question for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government.

Science Teaching (Technical Colleges And Universities)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what consultations he has had with representative bodies concerning the need to expand science teaching in technical colleges and universities.

The Committee on Scientific Manpower of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy has a general responsibility for reviewing the need to expand teaching resources in science in relation to other demands for scientific manpower. Consultation with representative bodies on the need in technical colleges is a matter for the Minister of Education, and in universities for the University Grants Committee. Both are represented on the Manpower Committee.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that some hon. Members believe that the recent Report was very complacent in this respect? In view of the disturbing shortage of scientific personnel at all levels, will the Parliamentary Secretary himself initiate some of these consultations? In particular, when the consultations take place will he have discussed the matter of raising in Britain a project of launching new syllabuses and text books, as has been done in the United States by the Physical Sciences Sub-Committee?

The actual curricula are not matters for which my noble Friend is responsible. With regard to consultations with representative bodies, naturally one fully supports that, but it should be kept to the constitutional channel, which in this case, is the Manpower Committee.

This is probably the whole key to our scientific effort. In view of the dreadful answer the Parliamentary Secretary gave to a previous supplementary question about public expenditure, may I ask whether he realises that we want much more public expenditure on education of this type?

The hon. Gentleman is getting more money spent on education of this type. The output of qualified manpower was 10,000 in 1955 and it is now 16,500. It will be 20,000 by 1965 and it might conceivably be 30,000 by 1973. This is a substantial increase.

Does the Parliamentary Secretary know that Japan is producing 130,000 technicians a year, and will he do something more to increase the number produced in this country?

I think that the hon. Gentleman should be careful when talking about technicians, because I am talking about qualified manpower, in the sense of the Manpower Committee's report. It is so easy to campare unlike with unlike.

What does the Parliamentary Secretary mean by "qualified manpower"? It is accepted that in Britain we are short of qualified engineers and that we are lagging behind almost every country in Western Europe, and the United States. I urge the Parliamentary Secretary to be less complacent.

I was not being complacent. I fully agree that we need more engineers and that anything we can do to encourage people to choose engineering when they go to university or technical colleges is effort well spent. On the other hand, even though we may not have the number we want, it is a little ungracious to suggest that we have not done very well.

Civil Research And Development (Expenditure)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science if he will give a breakdown, by Departments and principal items, of the figure of £42,900,000 for Government expenditure on civil research and development, excluding research councils, in 1958–59, given in Table I of the Report of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy.

As the Answer contains a number of figures, I will, with permission, circulate them in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Put in this way, a great deal of useful information is obviously being concealed from the public. Will the Parliamentary Secretary consider splitting up future Reports in a more intelligent fashion?

If the hon. Gentleman will do me the justice of reading my reply, he might then, if he thinks fit, criticise the form in which it is given.

Following are the figures:

An analysis of the source of funds is given in Table V of the document to which the hon. Member refers, and is as follows:

Funds from


Defence Departments2·9
Civil Departments34·7
Private Industry4·5
Other Organisations0·8

It would not be in the public interest to give further details.