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Office Of Minister For Science (Scientific Staff)

Volume 640: debated on Tuesday 16 May 1961

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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.