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Scottish Industry (Research And Development Contracts)

Volume 654: debated on Tuesday 27 February 1962

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asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what steps he proposes to take to encourage greater participation by Scottish industry in research and development contracts.

The responsibility of my noble Friend is restricted to contracts for civil purposes. Successive annual reports of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research have invited proposals from industry, and widespread Press publicity was given to the first civil development contract let last year. The Scottish establishments of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research are anxious to entertain any proposals which Scottish industry may wish to put forward.

Has the Parliamentary Secretary considered the recommendations in the Toothill Report? In particular, has his Department given any consideration to the suggestion that powers should be given to the National Engineering Laboratory itself to place research and development contracts?

My noble Friend has asked the D.S.I.R. to let him have its views on the proposals in the Toothill Report. These he has not as yet received, but it is important to remember that a proposal for a development contract can come only from the individual firm that has the idea. So far, we have had only one tentative approach from a Scottish firm.

Are we to understand that the hon. Gentleman and his noble Friend are concerned only with the suggestions of industry about development; and that they never themselves make any suggestion for the development of a promising project?

Certainly not, but unless the project starts off in the stations of the D.S.I.R., the D.S.I.R. naturally has to wait for a request for help from the firm in whose laboratories the project has originated.

Is not the Parliamentary Secretary aware that his right hon. Friend the Leader of the House told us in November that the Government were giving consideration to the proposals of the Toothill Report? Has nothing yet happened?