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Administration (Operational Research And Social Survey Methods)

Volume 654: debated on Tuesday 27 February 1962

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asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what discussions he has had with Ministers of other departments about the use of operational research and social survey methods as aids to administration.

So far as operational research is concerned I have taken a personal interest in the functioning of the Industrial Operations Unit of D.S.I.R. and am satisfied with existing arrangements for inter-departmental liaison. The unit has recently cooperated with the Ministry of Health, the Royal Mint, and the War Department. Social survey methods are mainly employed by the Social Survey Division of the Central Office of Information which is the responsibility of my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the large extent of the criticism which has been made of his right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport both on account of the possible quality and the cost of his London traffic survey? In view of the large amount of expertness which exists in Government Departments, which he has just mentioned, and among British universities, does he not think that it would be a good idea to set up a committee to advise Government Departments on the use of these surveys in future?

I could not accept that criticism of my right hon. Friend. The hon. Member will appreciate that the Social Survey which engages in this type of activity is the responsibility of the Treasury.

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that so long as we have a Ministry which is representing itself as being responsible for science, it clearly has a duty to see that scientific method is employed in every kind of Government work well, carefully and economically? Therefore, has he not a duty to render advice to the Minister of Transport?

My right hon. Friend and my noble Friend work closely together in all such matters and I could not accept the criticisms of my right hon. Friend.