§ Sir Granville Gibson (Pudsey and Otley)
I beg to move, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:this House, recognising the vital part which research and science and their effective application can play in reconstruction, as a means of increasing our national prosperity, raising the standard of living, recovering our export trade and developing the national resources of our Empire, urges the declaration of a bold and generous Government policy of financial assistance directed to the expansion of teaching and research facilities in our universities and technical colleges, to the extension of pure and applied research in all fields by the State, by industry through private firms and research associations and to the effective and rapid application of the results of research.I must express my thanks to the House for so expeditiously getting through Questions, and allowing the maximum time for discussing this very important Amendment. I feel that this question of research and science is one of vital importance to the future, not only of British trade and industry, but of the well-being of the people of this country. I hope that during the Debate the Government will take the opportunity of clearly de-daring their policy for the future with regard to the use they propose to make, in peace time, of the scientific and research people who have played such an important part during this time of stress in winning the war. A little time ago a series of articles appeared in the "Yorkshire Post," which is published in my own city, and is a paper of which we are very proud, dealing with the question of research in industry, and also a leading article in which occurred these words:…there is little evidence to suggest that the war effort has suffered from any neglect of scientific invention or advice.217 Then it went on to ask this question:But has adequate provision been made for continuing this fruitful collaboration into times of peace?That is the question I want to put to-day.
No doubt there are many Members of this House who, like myself, have few opportunities of coming into intimate contact with the wonderful work our scientific and research people are doing during the war period. As an industrialist, I am one of those who have few opportunities of that description, but I am well aware of the marvellous work that these so-called "back room boys" are and have been doing throughout the whole of the war period, and the important part they are playing towards winning the peace. I do not think it would be out of place to mention one other outstanding example, and he is only one of many hundreds or thousands who are just as faithfully and valiantly doing their best at this time for the good of the country. I refer to the world famous scientist, Dr. Weizmann. I was interested to read in the Press that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), in the -House of Commons after the last war, said in respect of Dr. Weizmann:I do not know whether the House realises how much we owe Dr. Weizmann with his marvellous scientific brain. He absolutely saved the British Army in a critical moment when a particular ingredient which it was essential we should have for our great guns was completely exhausted. His great chemical genius enabled us to solve that problem.Twenty-five years passed. What happened in this war? In connection with the production of synthetic rubber in the United States there were great difficulties, and Dr. Weizmann was called in again to assist them. Recently, Mr. Henry Wallace, Vice-President of the United States, stated:Dr. Weizmann came over to this country because he saw us on the point of making some very serious mistakes with regard to our rubber programme. The full story of Dr. Weizmann's achievement can only be told after the war. All that can be said now is that rubber stocks remained until recently one of the chief problems of the British and United States Governments.I say again that Dr. Weizmann is only representative of hundreds, nay thousands, of men who, unostentatiously but faithfully, are doing their best to assist the country. I do not think that I can do better than quote someone whose name I know will not meet with the approval 218 of some Members here, but who knows what scientists have done for this country during the war. He is Lord McGowan, the head of I.C.I. In an excellent address to the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, a few weeks ago, he said:The British race has not lost that spirit of inventiveness which has distinguished it. When the history of this war can be written, I am sure we shall find that every manifestation of enemy research whether at sea, on land or in the air, has been matched, and more than matched, by counter-discovery in this country, to say nothing of the lead we have given to the Allies in all sorts of directions connected not only with attack and defence, but with the health of the people.Because of my anxiety to have a definite declaration of policy from the Government, I now quote a point of criticism of our leading statesmen in respect of research and scientific discovery. In the leading article to which I have referred, Mr. J. D. Griffith-Davies, the assistant secretary of the Royal Society, is quoted as saying:Our leading statesmen have known the sublime satisfaction of an intimate acquaintance with the philosophy and literature of the ancient world; they have acquired a full understanding of the methods of government tried out by kings and peoples down the ages; but for them the stupendous scientific developments of the past 300 years are, too often, a closed book.If this criticism is true, I hope that those of my hon. Friends who follow me in this Debate will open the book, and reveal to our leading statesmen some of the wonders to be found in its pages, and the importance of research in this country. Personally, I do not consider this criticism justified. Members of this House know perfectly well how keenly interested in research is our Prime Minister. Only recently he said thatScience, now so generally perverted to destruction, must raise its glittering shield over the people of this country.We know that since 1940 he has had as his personal adviser Lord Cherwell, a man of great scientific attainments. [Interruption.] That is my opinion. In the course of his observations in a Debate on scientific research, last June or July, Lord Cherwell stated the opinion of the Government. He said:It is the intent and policy of His Majesty's Government to increase their assistance to pure research.He added that he would welcome any developments in industry in a similar 219 direction. A deputation from the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee waited upon some Members of the Government last December. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in reply to the deputation, stated that he would welcome recommendations before the next Budget, as to the effect of taxation upon private industrial research, and that there must be more science in education as a whole. My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister and Lord President of the Council—who, I am glad to see, has now recovered from his recent indisposition—said on that occasion that the nation must demand and recognise the need for research and research workers, and that the fullest cooperation was necessary in this field. I say to the Government that these opinions must be translated into action. The inquisitive instincts of human beings have been reaching upwards and outwards into the unknown in all ages. As to-day, there have been men in all ages born with the scientific outlook, which must find its expression in achievement. These men, who seem to be searching in the unknown, to grasp what they cannot see, remind me of what I read in Arnold's little book called "The Light of Asia":We are the voices of the whispering wind, Which moan for rest, but rest can never End.I hope the House will pardon my mentioning a personal experience. A few years ago I happened to be in Pisa. I was looking at the Leaning Tower, and it brought to my mind a great scientific achievement of the 16th century. Perhaps the House knows that Galileo was born in Pisa, about 1554. He was the inventor of the telescope, and the first man who used the telescope for astronomical observation. He went up the Leaning Tower, and from it dropped two stones of unequal weight, and disproved the theory that two bodies of unequal weight dropped from the same altitude would reach the ground at different times. I looked at the hanging chandelier at which Copernicus looked, about 1550. I noticed the slight swaying of the pendulum of the chandelier. It was from that that Copernicus evolved the theory of the rotation of the earth.
All through the ages there have been men, shall I say, obsessed by the scientific aspects of life. There might almost 220 have been a point of saturation reached in scientific achievement.
A friend of mine who is a doctor of physics in one of our universities in the South of England, expressed the opinion to me that the most dramatic advance will be based on discoveries which have not yet been made. It is always the discovery of something which nobody knew was there which is really important. The application of science to industry can be planned and ought to be planned by somebody, but the pure, fundamental scientist must be given his head to follow his own inspiration. I think the House would agree that in the past 200 years there has been a greater advance in scientific research and discovery than in the preceding 2,000 years. There are some who think that we are only at the beginning of an age of scientific invention, and that a vast extension in the range of industrial products and social benefits is probable. One hundred and fifty years ago, there started the Industrial Revolution. I am sometimes amused when I hear people trying to argue that the great success of this country in those years was directly attributable to the fact that we were a Free Trade country. I do not think that is true at all. The reason why we stepped ahead in the 19th century was that we, of all countries, had applied research and invention to industry, and were world producers of manufactured goods, such as rolling stock, which went all over the world. So this country became wealthy at home and abroad.
Unfortunately, some of the important inventions of this country were exploited by other countries. I am one of those who hope that in future this will not obtain, though it is quite possible. For instance, synthetic dyes, discovered by Perkins, were exploited by Germany. They had the I.G. Farbenindustrie and other companies—the greatest dyestuff firms in the world—who achieved their success because of the fact that they had exploited the inventions of our own people. I am not blaming the Germans. I blame our own people. Sorry, of Sheffield, discovered the properties of metals and alloys, and they went to Germany Mushet, of Sheffield, discovered highspeed steel, and that was exploited by Germany, who led the world at the beginning of the last war in manufactured products, such as chemicals, dyestuffs, alloys, electrical goods and such things. 221 I hold the view that, if Germany had not taken the short cut to world power by going to war in 1914, she would have been the world power in commerce. She was heading for it, but made a great mistake. I hope we shall take all possible steps to ensure that the inventions of our people will be exploited, first of all, for the good of our own people, and to develop our export trade. After the war, I am afraid this is going to be a very difficult task. My anxiety, in moving this Amendment, is that I feel we must marshal all our resources and make ourselves highly efficient if we are to win that export trade which is going to be so difficult to secure in the post-war period. Those of us who are in industry know just how difficult that task will be. Therefore we feel that we must utilise to the fullest extent the scientific genius and the brilliant minds we have in our midst to-day. Those firms and those countries that make the fullest use of scientific research and discovery 0in the future, are those who will go to the top; and those who fail to do so will go down.
A few Years ago, I happened to be in Derby, and the manager of the Rolls Royce works, who is a director of the firm, asked me if I would like to look round. He said "You can go into every department except one building." When I asked him why, he said "That is our research department." He told me the amount of money they spent on research and what a splendid investment it was. I was amazed at the money they had spent, and the small percentage of "winners" they received in the results obtained by their research workers, and how delighted they were with the successes of the department. I do not think there is an hon. Member who will contradict me when I say that it was mainly because of the research carried on in that building that Rolls Royce produced one of the finest, if not the finest, aeroplane engines the world has ever known, which along with the research of Mitchell and others, resulted in the production of the Spitfire. There was produced at that time the finest fighting machine in the world, which, in the hands of our brilliant young men, saved this country from dire disaster in July and August, 1940, in the Battle of Britain.
On the fringe of my constituency, 150 years ago, there was a thriving little village manufacturing woollen goods, all 222 by hand. There came the Industrial Revolution and the stationary engine applying power to machinery and so on, but in this little village they decided to keep to their old methods. The result, to-day, is that, if anyone visits that little place, they will see the derelict mill in the centre and all around the empty cottages where the workers lived 150 years ago. To-day, there is no wool manufactured there. They have paid the penalty for not keeping up to date in their methods and following in the train of the Industrial Revolution.
I consider that the case for research is perfectly clear. Pure or fundamental research, I suppose, will continue to be carried on at the universities, colleges and public schools, and I will not touch on that because other hon. Members know more about it than I do. I would like to touch on the question of research associations connected with industry. There are about 26 of these associations in this country to-day, and, at the present time, the chairman is a personal friend of mine, Lord Riverdale, a brilliant business man, who has rendered great service to this country during this war in arranging air training throughout Canada. This Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, of which Lord Riverdale is chairman, was formed about 1916, and it has done a marvellous job of work for industry in connection with research.
I have, however, a little complaint to make against it, and I should like the Lord President of the Council, who is, I think, the head of this organisation, to bear this in mind. In connection with my own industry—it may apply to others also —the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research started making a contribution to one research association which I have in mind, of one pound for every pound contributed by the industry. But, as the years went by, they reduced that ratio, with the result that now they only contribute one pound to every two from the industry. When the amount sub-scribed exceeds a certain maximum, there is no grant at all. Personally, I think that is a mistake on the part of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. To those 26 research associations industries have contributed £113,000 and the D.S.I.R. contributed £100,000, pretty well pound for pound, but by 1938 the subscriptions of the industries had risen to £326,000 whereas the subscriptions from 223 the D.S.I.R. had increased only to £177,000. Industry had increased its subscriptions by £213,000, whilst the D.S.I.R. increased its contributions by £77,000, and I think that was insufficient encouragement. It is encouraging to find that there is a great deal of liaison between the pure research bodies and the applied research bodies. In my own city of Leeds coal gas pure research is carried on at the university, and ever since the Coal Gas Research Association came into being they have carried on their work in the same buildings. That liaison has been very advantageous to the coal gas industry.
It is also encouraging to find that industry is prepared to spend far greater amounts upon research in the future than in the past. The coal owners intend to spend £500,000 in the next five years, and the British Iron and Steel Federation have authorised an annual expenditure of £250,000 on research. Therefore, I feel that Government assistance in increasingly large amounts must be made available to encourage research, and that the results of the research within the research associations should be made available to the whole of industry. I have often listened to hon. Members on this side criticising large firms, and they have sometimes conveyed the impression that this country was made up industrially of large firms, but actually this is a country of small firms. In 1935, out of 173,000 firms there were 163,000 employing fewer than 100 employees. In 1936 52 per cent. of the workers in factories were employed by firms employing fewer than 250 workers, and only 18 per cent. were in factories with 1,000 or more operators. Surely this suggests that serious consideration should be given to providing asistance for small firms, so many of which have not the financial strength to enable them to maintain even one research chemist.
There has been an encouraging increase in the amount contributed to research by trade and industry during the past 10 or 15 years. In 1938 firms and companies contributed £5,500,000 to research, while in 1930 the amount was £1,750,000. There has also been an encouraging increase in the number of research chemists in industry. In 1930 384 firms employed an average of only four chemists each, but in 1938 520 firms employed an average of 224 eight chemists. That shows that industry is becoming more and more research minded. Against the £5,500,000 spent upon research by industry in this country, where there are 7,000 research chemists, the United States spends ten times more, £70,000,000 a year, and has 70,000 expert chemists. In a book which I read recently by a member of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. it was stated that in Russia in 1938 they had 80,000 scientific workers and spent 15 times more than we do in British universities.
There is no doubt that some of these research associations have done really wonderful work. I sometimes think that those in industry seem to be under the impression that they should pay the scientist his wage to-day and get an invention to-morrow morning, but it may take weeks and months, or even years, before an invention sees the light of day. The research association of the wool industry in Leeds has been experimenting for years to evolve some method which would render wool absolutely unshrinkable. At last they have discovered it. All wool to-day is within the control of and is purchased by the Government, and it is estimated that this invention, which renders wool unshrinkable, has in this war saved the country at least £10,000,000. Dean Inge says that as a great industrial nation we shall not and cannot recover from this war. That is a gloomy picture by a gloomy Dean. I do not believe it. I am satisfied that that spirit of pessimism is the way to failure. I am one of those who feel that we can and must and will recover after the war.
In the post-war years we shall require the fullest assistance of scientists allied to technical skill. My hon. Friends on this side will realise that, if I do not mention it, it is because I take it for granted that we have in our industries the finest technical skill in the world. We shall require the fullest assistance of scientists allied to technical skill to win markets abroad. I have heard it said from the benches on this side that industrialists are no good at all, but there is one point which we should never forget, and that is that there is no power on earth which can prevent the benefits of an invention percolating into the lives of all the people of the country. As a simple illustration take electric light bulbs. Those bulbs have been made by the hundreds of millions. Probably millions of pounds of 225 profit have been made out of their manufacture, but who would deny that they have been a God-send to the people in providing better and cleaner light, with less eye-strain than in the days of the old gas jets and candles? Wireless has, no doubt, brought great profits to manufacturers, but who would deny that wireless has been a great instructive instrument and that it has brought pleasure into the lives of our fellow men? Whatever may be said against capitalists we can never get away from the fact that there is no invention of importance that does not in time percolate through to benefit millions of people.
§ Mr. Messer (Tottenham, South)
Capitalists would not take up an invention if they did not get a profit.
§ Sir G. Gibson
That is true, but if the people were satisfied that it was not of any use to them they would not buy the invented article. The question is, who is to pay for this research? I would like to be more optimistic, but I cannot see that we can reasonably expect to get back to the pre-war standards of taxation, and if taxation remains high then funds for research must be given in increasingly large measure by the Government. I am firmly of the opinion that expenditure upon research buildings and their equipment should be regarded as a trading expense, chargeable against revenue, in the case of firms and companies, on condition that fundamental research is carried on, or, if it is applied research, that the results of the research should be placed at the disposal of the particular industry. Alternatively, the Government should make grants towards the expenditure, in accordance with the necessities of the case. We are often reminded that expenditure upon the war is running at the rate of £13,500,000 or £14,000,000 a day. This is not productive expenditure, but an outlay of £5,000,000 or £10,000,000 or £15,000,000 more than we have been spending upon research would be an investment to the country's future and in my opinion would bring big dividends in the future.
Unfortunately, the personnel of the research and scientific departments of our industrial colleges is altogether too small. In Debates upon the coal situation I have heard hon. Members say that 30,000 men ought to be demobilised from the Forces 226 to go back to the mines, and in the Debate upon the Education Bill the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) said that 30,000 teachers should be brought back from the Forces as quickly as possible. I say that it is far more important to have 30,000 men released from the Forces as early as possible after the close of hostilities to go into scientific and research training. The universities must aim at a great increase in the number of students of science and research. Under the new Education Bill special attention should be given to encouraging young people to take up a scientific career. But how can we expect to get the numbers of students we should like to have in view of the salaries being paid to-day? In 1937 the average salary of all grades of lecturers in our universities, excepting only Oxford and Cambridge, at the age of 30, was only £313 a year. Last month I read in the Press a report by the Ministry of Labour that the average wages of skilled and semi-skilled men in certain industries in July, 1943, men over 21 years of age, was £6 1s. 3d. for a week of 47.7 hours—as much as was received by a scientific worker who had been spending the years from his teens up to, probably, the age of 24 or 25 in study without bringing any return to his parents, for whom it was expenditure all the time. Even a secondary school teacher gets £354 a year. Surely a scientific worker in a university is worth as much as a secondary school teacher, and I hope some action will be taken in this matter.
Finally, I feel that a greater use of research in future will assist in ensuring more employment for our people. It would result in the birth of new products and in higher quality goods. As I said in a previous Debate, allow Japan and India and similar countries where they work 12 hours a day for 1½d. an hour to go on producing low-priced goods and rubbish, and let us get on with the higher quality stuff, which calls for the work of specialists, and also with the production of new goods which will find new markets in various parts of the world.
As I have said, the absence of research, in my opinion, spells stagnation and ultimate disaster, and the collaboration between scientists and the producers of goods is necessary for success. There must be collaboration with all parts of the Empire, and all parts of the Empire should be invited to take part in our 227 schemes. New Zealand, with a population of only 1,500,000, cannot be expected to provide funds for carrying forward schemes of research in various types of industry. She cannot afford it. But is there any reason why they should not take part in our schemes here? They have shared our successes in the past, they are sharing our trials at the present time, and they could share our efforts in the future. I am confident they will play their part financially in our efforts to enrich the Empire.
I think this is a great opportunity for our country. The Empire has been the beacon of progress, improving the civilisation of the world. I have travelled in most countries of the world and, although I may be termed by some "a little Englander", whenever I come back to this country, I am always proud of the fact that I was born in it. I am proud of the Empire and its associations. Our country and our Empire have had a glorious past. In our struggle for existence we stand shoulder to shoulder. In the days to come, if we seize the opportunity of progress and advancement, and utilise to the full the results of our researches and inventiveness, allied to high efficiency and productivity and the brilliant technical skill of our workers, we can play our part in leading, not only our own people, but the rest of the world to a higher plane and a higher standard of living than has hitherto been the experience of millions of our fellow human beings.
§ Mr. Salt (Birmingham, Yardley)
I beg to second the Amendment.
My hon. Friend the Member for Pudsey and Otley (Sir G. Gibson) who has moved this Amendment in such eloquent terms has initiated what is, I think, the first Debate on scientific research which has taken place in this House for some years. I think the present is a very happy time to have such a Debate. There have been some 18 months of most intensive study of this subject. The Federation of British Industries issued an important pamphlet last autumn, the Nuffield College has had a recent conference, at which some hundred eminent scientists and others have been debating it, and the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee of this House has given the matter most intensive study. It has produced three different reports, to which I hope to make some reference 228 later. This Committee has the advantage of having on it some 150 Members of both Houses, of all parties and, in addition, there are 57 scientific associations who send their members to assist in the deliberations. The reports are the result of many months of study and were only brought to completion when they had been passed unanimously by the Committee. We have been fortunate in being able to meet various Members of the Government in deputation and have had, I think, a very excellent reception by them. We have a wealth of information to-day and I think we have reached a time at which we should take some definite action. The present Amendment is very similar in terms to the Motion which is standing on the Order Paper and which has in support of it no fewer than 207 names.
I wish to give my thanks, as has the mover, to the Prime Minister for making full use of scientists, in helping us through this war. I believe I am correct in saying that they have been used to a very much greater extent than they were in the last war. Of course, we hear only occasionally of their work, but we do hear, from time to time, of some of their efforts. In the early days we were faced with the menace of the magnetic mine which might have ruined our shipping. Within a matter almost of days, one of our great scientists, with great heroism, managed to conquer this and we know that that menace disappeared. We have had the advantage of radiolocation and there are, of course, a hundred and one different ways in which we are getting the support of science. Science, undoubtedly, has greatly helped us to the much happier position in which we are to-day and in which we feel absolutely confident of winning the war. If science has done that during war I think we can expect, with some confidence, that when peace comes, prosperity can once more be won, with the aid of science.
What is standing in the way of getting the full value of all this work? I think we need have no fears regarding fundamental science. In our great universities men of genius have always been provided, and I think in this respect we can safely say that we compare favourably with any other country in the world. But when it comes to the number of the rank and file who are needed to make the very great discoveries available for the benefit of 229 humanity, we find that we are very short. Sir Ernest Simon recently toured the United States of America and found that while in their universities they had no fewer than 1,000,000 students and 100,000 teaching staff, in this country we have no more than 50,000 students, and while in the realm of finance they obtain, through State gifts and endowments, some £97,000,000 a year, we only provide £6,500,000. It is, of course, true that finance would not produce the great geniuses which we usually think of in connection with science, but it is the rank and file whose number it is particularly necessary to increase.
I do not suggest that, since we have only one-tenth of the number of research workers in this country, we should try to increase our numbers to anything like that ratio which I have indicated. That would be a ridiculous suggestion, utterly impossible to carry out and not necessarily a wise one even if we could do it. But I do contend that we should consider doubling our numbers. A necessary corollary of that must be that we should have to expand our universities, and the technical schools will also need enlarging and some of them, possibly, such as that at Bradford, might be given university status. To undertake this I think we shall need a capital expenditure of some £10,000,000 over the first five years following the war and, in a long term policy, we might easily require as much as £20,000,000. As regards the annual needs, the present grant of £2,250,000 given to the universities should be increased. The figure should be increased gradually, as required, to some £6,000,000 or £7,000,000. Further, I particularly stress that the Government should consider an immediate token payment of £1,000,000, so that those in charge of our universities can make the necessary plans for expansion. We have to remember that as soon as the war is finished—and I am now talking of the war in Europe—we shall expect a great number of the men, now in the Services, to come back to their universities to complete the preparation for their careers. When this happens, it is obvious that those in charge of our universities will find little time to make their plans. Therefore, I do hope that such a payment will be made.
So far, I have referred to expenditure. I think it is only right, if we are to ask 230 the country to provide a very considerable amount of money, to see what it is likely to get in exchange. I would like to refer, as an answer to that, to the Report of the Parliamentary Scientific Committee on Coal Research. This Report says that in 1913 only 15 per cent. of the potential energy of coal was utilised, leaving some 85 tons out of every 100 to be wasted and generally lost to the country. In 1938, that had increased to 30 per cent., but there is still a wastage of some 70 per cent. This Report states and, with the backing of the scientists, I believe, is accepted generally as a statement that is likely to be carried out, that within 15 years, if intensive scientific research is given to it, a further 15 per cent. can be added to the present 30 per cent. We shall then reach a 45 per cent. average abstraction of heat energy from our coal. If this is carried out, it means that no less than £200,000,000 per annum would be added to the income of the State. During that period, naturally, it would be cumulatively remunerative and would certainly more than pay for the cost of the several thousands of extra research workers who would be necessary to carry out that work. That is only one industry, although one of our greatest. We should by intensive research have new industries and receive very many advantages, including smoke abatement. Let us consider the case of agriculture. I will not say much on this subject because I think several hon. Members are hoping to speak on it. It is still our greatest industry. I am assured from the deliberations of our Committee that we should find here similar valuable results from research. It is said that by spending £2,000,000 a year on the diseases of animals we should be able to add to the milk and meat supply of this country no less than £20,000,000 and that, I think, to a great extent, holds good right through the field of agriculture.
I had the advantage of meeting the late Professor Topley, whose death is so much lamented. I met him only a few days before he died, and had a long interview with him. He particularly asked me, if I ever got the opportunity, to remind the Government that, following the last war, when the Geddes Axe came into operation, it unfortunately included in its first efforts to economise scientific workers in agriculture. Professor Topley said that the effect of that was being felt even 231 to-day because graduates from our universities hesitated to go into that particular side of research. We have heard from the mover of this Amendment a great deal in regard to industry. I should like to refer to the necessity of encouraging research institutes. There are many industries that still have not got these institutes such as, I believe, radio and rayon. Rayon, particularly, I think, might, if full research is given to it, play some part in helping Lancashire to replace some of its lost trade in the cotton industry. I do not suggest that subsidies should be found for these industries. It would be very much better if they could stand on their own legs, but, with the present taxation, something might be done to assist them by an alleviation in that way. The Government should encourage the linking-up of graduates from university to industry.
I wish to refer to the status of the ordinary rank and file scientific research worker. This is a matter of the first importance. I am not, of course, referring to those who stay on the teaching staffs of universities and carry out teaching research, but to those who come into industry and go into the laboratories very much on their own. Their future does not lead to great emoluments, and the country and the industries are losing tremendously in not having these men on the staffs of industry itself. I hope that publicity can help to persuade industrialists to accept scientifically trained men for their industries, as this would be to their great advantage. If we do not achieve this, it will be difficult to get our best men to go into scientific research. At present medicine and law have a social status and are assured of emoluments; we must try to do what we can to raise the status of the scientific research worker.
I wish to say a word of appreciation of the work done by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. I have had the privilege of going over some of their stations. They are doing important and fundamental work, at present, almost, if not entirely, concerned with the war. I ask that they shall continue after the war, as I have no doubt is the intention, because we want the Government to have independent pure research done in their department. In asking for that, and showing my appreciation of the work done, I hope that the same freedom 232 will be given to private enterprise, so that they can also work on their own.
May I sum up the points I have tried to make? The number of students in our universities taking scientific research should be doubled. The teaching staffs will, obviously, have to be increased, and university and technical colleges enlarged, created and equipped in the most modern way possible. Capital expenditure should be provided, for a short term, of £100,000,000, and for a 10-year period, possibly, of £20,000,000. The grants, which are now £2,250,000, should be increased to £6,000,000 or £7,000,000, and an immediate token grant of £1,000,000 should be provided. Coal research should be encouraged, in accordance with the particulars given in the pamphlet produced by the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, and I would enter a caveat, that the universities should remain unfettered by State control. The fact that we ask that double the number should go through these institutions should make no difference with regard to the present very satisfactory method of subjecting them to the least possible control. In support of that, I will give a quotation from the book by Sir Walter Raleigh written in 1911, on "The Meaning of a University." He said:A great part of the business of a university is to cultivate differences and distinctions. It raises fresh crops by turning over the old soil….The standard of utility is certain to kill the university. It is the timber, not the growing tree, which serves for ships. Let us beware of making our universities the creatures of the State.I believe that we are most fortunate today in having, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, a man who has had a scientific training. We met him on a number of occasions when he was Lord President of the Council, and I think he appreciates that, if taxation is to be kept up in the country after the war, so as to be able to meet the expenditure on social services, we must have a thriving industry. Consequently, the expenditure that is being asked is in every way a good investment. It is said that the right hon. Gentleman is in this respect rather like the fox who likes his geese well fattened. We have in the present Lord President of the Council a man who, I believe, is very sympathetic with the Amendment that we have before us. I know that it comes within his province to deal with the nation's scien- 233 tific work. The only thing I would suggest is that, in view of his many duties, it might be helpful if he had a Parliamentary Under-Secretary, whose time could be devoted mainly to scientific topics, because we have reached the stage when action may well be taken.
§ Mr. Benson (Chesterfield)
The problem of research can be divided into two parts so far as this House is concerned —pure research and applied research. I do not suggest that they can be separated in reality. But, as far as financial help is concerned, pure research is a comparatively simple problem. It is a question of how far the Government are prepared to provide the money over a period. But when we turn to the question of applied research, which will of necessity, for the most part, be in the hands of industry itself, the matter simply bristles with difficult problems, which will have to be settled on right general principles, if we are to breathe the new spirit into scientific research that is really required.
The development of scientific research is not merely a question of applying cash. The State cannot hand out to private individuals or firms, sums of cash to fortify and facilitate their private researches. What the Government can do however is to relieve scientific research of the enormously heavy burdens that our present level of taxation imposes upon it. Even that is not a simple problem. Far from it. I am well aware that the Board of Inland Revenue, in considering laboratory research, is generous and has a fairly simple problem to decide, whether it is research and whether it should be set against profits or not. But industrial research is not merely a matter of laboratories. There is all the difference in the world between a laboratory process and the same process as applied in a great industrial plant. The building of industrial pilot, and experimental plants, the development of an actual industrial process is where the problem of taxation arises acutely; for example, when does a pilot plant cease to be a pilot and become part of the productive concern. These are principles which will have to be settled.
Scientific research in the laboratory is an expensive item, but scientific research in the building of particularly large experimental plants and processing plants is a matter, not of tens of thousands of 234 pounds, but possibly of hundreds of thousands of pounds, even of millions. With Income Tax at 10s. in the £—and probably it will never sink in our lifetime much below 75. 6d.—it is a very risky matter for an industrial concern to sink such large sums in a plant, or in an attempt to develop a new process, if that pilot plant or new process is regarded by the Board of Inland Revenue as capital expenditure. These marginal cases are matters of very considerable importance which cannot be solved simply. We and the Government have to recognise that the old Income Tax rules and regulations are inadequate and are likely to be increasingly inadequate to meet out future problems. I am rather sceptical whether we can ever arrive at a satisfactory solution of these points. We shall probably, eventually, have to meet the problem by a very broad, sweeping solution, that all money ploughed back into industry, for whatever purpose, whether it be for scientific research or for the extension of plant, should bear a differential rate of tax, and a very low rate at that. One thing of which I am quite convinced is, that not only will the Government have to take steps to facilitate and to finance pure research, but, if our industries are to expand in competition with Germany after the war, and with the United States, where vast sums are spent upon research and where research is encouraged, we shall have to see that our high taxation does not form a barrier to research or place an unduly heavy burden upon the widest experiments in industry.
But there is another side to this. If we are to relax our taxation laws, and give industry all the possible financial backing that we can, to experiment and develop, there is a quid pro quo that we must demand from it. Again, this quid pro quo bristles with difficult problems. The problem is: to whom shall belong the product of this research, to whom shall belong new processes and new inventions that we are to derive from the support and financial help given by the Government to industry? It is very simple, as the mover of this Amendment has said, to state the broad principle that new inventions and processes shall be at the disposal of the trade. That can be done easily if your new invention or process comes from a university or trade association. But suppose it comes from, say, I.C.I. who spend more in research than any other 235 company. That is a problem that will have to be met, and it will not be met easily or simply.
There are two difficulties. First, if a firm is to pour money into invention Dr development it requires same return for that; if on the other hand that money has been derived partly from the community, the community has its rights and we have a clash of interests. If we are going to do what we hope to do, in the interests of developing research, we shall have, at the same time, to reconsider the whole question of our patent laws. At the present moment, too many patents are bought out, not for utilisation but to be smothered and that is sinning against the light. But so long as you allow our patent laws to exist in their present state, it is possible, and in many cases highly profitable, to buy up inventions and keep them smothered.
We have to look forward in this country to an industry expanding rapidly, if we are to increase our standard of living and meet all the bills that will come upon us in the future. We have to maintain our place in the world where the industrial struggle inevitably will be more keen and vigorous than before. Our industry will have to be expansive; it will have to be alert and alive scientifically. To meet this problem, not only industry but the community also will have to pour money into scientific research. But we cannot have that money from the community devoted to creating monopolies under our patent laws. And that is a problem not to be solved easily, merely by somebody in this House adumbrating some fine noble principle of everyone sharing the fruits of research. We must solve the difficulty of how to give adequate incentive to industry and at the same time prevent public money going to create monopolies.
§ Air-Commodore Helmore (Watford)
May I remind my hon. Friend that there is a Section in the Patents Acts of 1929–32 which makes it illegal to withhold processes from development?
§ Mr. Benson
I am aware that there is a Section which demands that, but we know perfectly well that the Patents Acts are used for purposes of smothering new inventions. The question of what is development and what is utilisation is so 236 nebulous that it is perfectly easy to buy up and even prevent real development of some very important discovery and process.
§ Mr. Wakefield (Swindon)
One of the reasons why this buying up of inventions is done is because, unlike America and Canada, there is in this country an inadequate allowance for depreciation and writing off obsolete plants.
§ Mr. Benson
I am very sceptical about that. The cry of industry that depreciation allowances are inadequate is largely nonsense. When plant is scrapped or renewed, the obsolescence allowance covers any gap between cost and depreciation.
§ Mr. Wakefield
My point was that firms that have allowances in this country can be compared with the position in the United States of America and Canada and they are at a very grave disadvantage in this connection. I used a comparative basis. That is why in the U.S.A. and Canada there is this greater activity, in developing new inventions and in putting in new and more modern machinery. It is because of the greater assistance given over there, compared with this country.
§ Mr. Benson
I am very sceptical about a great deal of that. The one weakness about our obsolescence allowance is this: it may be refused if plant is replaced by plant of an entirely different character. But if plant is replaced by analogous plant then the obsolescence and depreciation allowances cover the whole cost. The problem that will have to be faced is that depreciation allowance is given on the original cost of the machinery, and rising prices may make that replacement 50 per cent. higher or even double.
I query whether this suppression of inventions is due to inadequate depreciation allowances. Very often it is because a firm does not want a competitor to start new or better processes, or it does not want the expense and trouble of renewing the whole plant. We shall have to meet this problem of how to safeguard the community's rights in inventions deriving from the money of the community and at the same time to preserve the initiative and inventive capacity of private industry to make new inventions. It is an urgent problem that will require very great thought.
§ Mr. Owen Evans (Cardigan)
I have a great deal of experience regarding patents, 237 particularly in buying patents in order to smother them. It is not the fault of the buyer, because if he does not use the patent, there is a means whereby another person can get a compulsory licence. The first thing is not the buying of a patent to smother it, but buying it to examine if it is commercially or industrially possible. If the purchaser buys and smothers it, there is still this other means whereby someone else may use it.
§ Mr. Benson
Provided the development is not "adequate" and the trouble is that word "adequate." But I wish to stress the real problem; how to solve the conflict between the right of the community to have the use of an invention or of a process that has been developed and the need of providing adequate rewards and incentives to industry to throw the whole of its energy into the development of new industrial processes. The motor manufacturers of the United States of America have a general agreement among themselves that any new invention applying to motor cars may be used by any member of the Motor Manufacturers Association on a comparatively reasonable royalty and no manufacturer has any monopoly of invention inside the Motor Manufacturers Association. It is along those lines that a solution of this very grave dilemma is possible—that inventions shall still be subject to patents but shall give no manufacturer the right to more than a reasonable royalty, if used outside. The essential thing is that our aid and help to scientific invention shall lead to an expansive industry and not to a monopolistic industry. If these very, very difficult problems, technical problems of administration, can be solved then this House will be justified in spending very generously in support of scientific research.
§ Sir Ernest Shepperson (Leominster)
While fully supporting the plea made by representatives of British industry for further generous assistance to research and examination of our production, I make no apology for putting forward a particular appeal of my own, on behalf of the greatest and most important industry in Britain. That is the industry of agriculture. Agriculture is the one industry which creates wealth without destroying wealth. I have heard it said in this House that there is not much diffi- 238 culty in British agriculture. It is said that if you plant a grain of wheat and leave it alone, each year you will produce 50 grains of wheat. Therefore, it is said, one bushel will produce 150 bushels. That is not so. One bushel of wheat will, at the outside, produce no more than 15 bushels.
In British agriculture it is always unwise to count your chickens before they are hatched. There is many a slip between the cup and the lip in growing anything. You take a grain of wheat and sow it in the land and, from the very moment it is sown, that grain of wheat is subject to attacks by bacteriological diseases, by insects, by birds and so on. It is also subject to the difficulty of obtaining the essential nutriment for its growth from the soil. We cannot obtain 150 bushels from one bushel; we only obtain 15. There is a great margin between those two, but there is some reasonable prospect of attempting to increase that 15, and this is where scientific research will come in. We attack and prevent those bacteriological diseases which are attacking our crops, and we also protect our crops from insect pests, and we can also help our crops when grown. During this war the Minister of Agriculture, through the activities of the war agricultural executive committees, our universities and agricultural colleges, has done a great deal to increase the production of the land of this country. I only hope that when this great need for food during the war period has passed, we shall not let agriculture and agricultural research slip back to their pre-war condition.
A great deal has been done to assist the nutriment values of our food. We have seen the results in the improved physique of our people during the war. We have a knowledge now, which we had not before, of the value of vitamins to increase the nutritive value. I have made many inquiries among scientific friends as to whether a vitamin is an actual food in itself, or whether it has catallactic action and enables the animal to make better use than previously of the amount of food taken. I have never yet had a definite reply to that. I would suggest that since a vitamin can add to the ability of the animal to digest, and make use of the food available, so it is possible that, in plant life, we may be able to add similar substances to our soil 239 to enable the plant to make better use of the foods that are in the soil.
When I studied the science of agriculture a great many years ago, we applied to the plant growth phosphorus, potash, and a certain amount of iron, apart from nitrogen. Since that time, a great advance has taken place, and now we know it is essential that small quantities of manganese, and so on, are essential. Is it not possible that certain other substances are essential which we may compare with vitamins? I will give an example. I myself have 20 acres of sugar. The leaves were cut off and left on the ground. Half of that ground was fed off by sheep, who ate the leaves and were sold away fat. All the land was ploughed; half had the leaves ploughed in, the sheep had eaten the leaves off the other half. The following wheat crop yielded far more where sheep had fed off the leaves than where the whole of the leaves were ploughed in. Does not that open the question as to whether the leaves, in passing through the animal which had eaten it, have been given something that will increase the yield of the wheat?
I suggest there is scope for scientific research into these matters. It is only some three or four weeks ago that I had a field ready to sow with wheat. I said to my bailiff "Why not sow this wheat? Everything is ready." He said, "It is no good sowing any seeds when the moon is on the wane. You must wait until the moon is on the make. You must wait until after the new moon if you want the seed to grow." And the wheat was not sown until the following week. A little while ago a man told me—I hope I am not committing any breach of security regulations because I understand that no weather reports are allowed to be mentioned at the present time—"It is all right, sir, it will rain to-day." I said, "How do you know?" He said, "The moon is on its back, sir, it will rain." And it did rain. I am not prepared to say whether our scientists can explain why the moon affects the growing of a seed, or why the moon on its back will cause rain, but it does prove there is some need for scientific education among our agriculturists at the present time.
I want to substantiate the appeal. Agriculture is a great industry, and there is scope for assistance to it in scientific 240 research. I make the appeal that the Government, when considering other industries, should also take into account the great help that may be given to the industry of agriculture. I trust that in the post-war period the good work now being done will be continued.
§ Sir John Graham Kerr (Scottish Universities)
I am afraid that any remarks which may fall from the lips of one who has devoted a long professional life to teaching and research in science will possibly not be regarded as quite unprejudiced. In the few words I shall offer, I do not propose to enter into any of the matters in detail which are mentioned in the Amendment before the House, because there is not one of those Amendments, which might not provide scope for hours and days of discussion. Still less, will I venture into that thorny region which is concerned with extracting quids from the quo of research. I merely offer a few general remarks. Of course, it goes without saying that I am absolutely in favour of the Amendment. I greatly enjoyed the eloquent speech of its mover and also that of the seconder, and I think the House and the country should realise what tremendous work has been done by the seconder of the Amendment, by his guidance, and by his provision of driving force to the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee which is really the backing of this Amendment.
We live to-day in a world of science. All the comforts which mark off our civilised life from the life of the primitive savage, or very nearly all of them, are due to science and its applications. Through them we are able to stretch to the ends of the earth to attain that varied diet which we enjoy even in times of war to a certain extent. Through them we obtain water supplies, heat, light, all these various conveniences. But to them also we owe something greater, our very life. The concentrated population of the great cities of the civilised communities would be swept away by pestilence in a very short time were it not for the services of particular branches of science. In Debates on science, one is, perhaps, sometimes apt to forget that science is not one thing in itself, it is merely accurate knowledge and the means of obtaining it. The means of interpreting it show most profound differences in different branches of science. A physicist or biologist, for 241 example, is quite incompetent to lay down the law about the other departments with which he is not acquainted.
For practical purposes, however, we can divide scientific research into two great sub-divisions—pure research or fundamental research, and utilitarian or applied research. One must remember that the second of those, the applied, the utilitarian, science with which we come into close contact, is built upon the foundation of pure science. Pure science, then, comes first in real importance, and it is that half of science which finds its home particularly in the laboratories of the universities.
In the laboratories of our universities we have the homes of our great leaders of science. These laboratories have something much greater than their elaborate equipment—it is the liberty that exists within them and the freedom they have from interference by the Government. In a university laboratory you have a leader at the head of it, but he does not drive his junior researchers; what he does is to inspire them and from these laboratories come the great results of science. The mover of the Amendment mentioned a personal experience he had which interested me particularly, and perhaps the House will bear with me if I, also, mention a personal experience. In my early days I was sitting at breakfast with Professor J. J. Thomson of Cambridge—1895, I think it was—when he read a paragraph from the "Standard" newspaper relating to a discovery that had just been made in Germany by Professor Röntgen—the extraordinary new fact that there was some strange influence which was able to affect a photographic plate, even when that plate was protected by black paper. That paragraph announced the discovery of X-rays. I like to think that the reading of that newspaper paragraph at that great man's breakfast table in Cambridge was the procreative act leading to these developments in the Cavendish laboratory which meant the revolutioning of modern physics.
Science does not need merely leaders; as has been said, it also requires the rank and file, without whom it would be as ineffective in fighting against ignorance, as would be an army composed of field-marshals in fighting against human foes. We must have these other ranks in science, and it is through, and in, their combined opera- 242 tions, their team work, that we have a field in which the Government can be of particular help. It already is so. It has its various organisations for helping scientific research such as the Department of Industrial and Scientific Research, the Medical Research Council and the Agricultural Research Council, each of which has been doing magnificent work in the past and will, I feel sure, continue to do so in the future. I have no desire to suggest any real change in the Government's method of encouraging research. May it go on, making its assistance of still greater value, especially its financial assistance. There is one point about these Government Departments I have mentioned and that is the very important one that they are specialised Departments. The first of them is interested in the application of physical science, and the two last are interested in the application of biological science.
Before I sit down I would like to refer to another of these scientific bodies, which is of historical interest in that it was the first of them all, namely, the Development Commission. This Commission attended to a very varied set of applications of science—agricultural, rural industries and the like—but I wish to refer to one of its activities with which I have been in very close contact for many years, namely, the encouragement of research into fisheries. We must remember that the word "fisheries" involves a great deal more than what we ordinarily understand by it. It involves attempts to tap those enormous stores, those infinitely great stores, of food material, suitable for man, which are contained in the waters of the oceans. We have tapped them to a certain extent, but we do it through intermediaries. We make use of herring and shell fish of various kinds and other creatures; we use them to extract useful food material from the waters. But anybody with a grasp of the subject and with a little imagination can see in the distant future the day when we will no longer he dependent entirely upon these intermediaries but will be able to extract for ourselves food from that great store of material. I merely wanted to offer these few general remarks bearing on the Amendment before the House.
§ Air Commodore Helmore (Watford)
In supporting this Amendment, I feel that it is desirable that I should be brief because I know that there is a large num- 243 ber of expert persons in this House who are anxious to talk on this subject—a subject of very great importance to the country which may have a great effect on our future. I have noticed recently a tendency to refer to scientific research as if it were an end in itself, whereas scientific research is merely a process from which useful results may or may not emerge. I believe that the most effective way of judging scientific research is by its output, for the ultimate fruits of research are discovery and invention. For that reason, because we require these results, we must stimulate, as far as is possible, the independent genius of out country. To put any own feelings quite shortly and crudely, I believe that one unshaven genius who produces the goods is worth 200 white-coated workers in a chromium-plated laboratory which produces nothing. If we attempt to over-regulate and control inventive genius, that particularly sensitive process of creation which is an affair of the mind, we may ultimately chain it down and so limit its growth. We have a great natural technical genius as a people and we must allow that genius to grow untrammelled, and not turn it into some restrained and co-ordinated thing. The Government should give encouragement in every form so that that genius may develop freely.
To this end, we should do everything in our power to foster and support our great university system and our technical schools. I have listened with the greatest pleasure to the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir G. Kerr), who seemed to me, as he stood here in this House, almost to embody our university tradition of reverence for knowledge. If we are prepared to give the utmost possible support to our universities we shall widen the field from which may spring those scientific and technical achievements which every one of us wishes to see realised.
Further grants of money should be allocated to increase facilities for postgraduate courses in scientific research. These research facilities are at present very limited in our universities. They enable young men at a formative time of their lives, when they have hitherto merely been absorbing information from other people, to undertake research work of their own choice and to create something with their own hands. In this way, instead of 244 retaining a diminishing memory of their subject, they may well become devotees of science for the rest of their lives. I urge the Government to accord the widest possible facilities to the universities and technical schools for the purpose of postgraduate research, and so enable picked men to study their chosen subjects and do something original for themselves.
I would like to see this system extended so that many of those who have left a university with an honours degree, and have gone into industry, thus widening their contact with reality, should be able to return to the university with any planned scheme of research which might be of benefit to the community. I have elaborated this topic because I appreciated so much the remarks of the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities. I hope we shall support university research in every possible way, and in giving that support leave our universities untrammelled and so maintain their high traditions and identity.
§ Mr. Shephard (Newark)
This Amendment is very wide and I propose to limit myself to that part of it which deals with the need for research in industry. I propose to say a few words about the export trade position. I want to make a few observations on the condition of our industrial equipment and, finally, I want to draw attention to our distributive system. The easy times of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when British industry enjoyed almost undisputed world markets, have gone and, I feel, may never return. If we are to have even our fair share of world trade I think we shall have to think in terms of a new industrial revolution. The story of our export trade during the last 25 years is not a happy one. We used to be known as the "workshop of the world": our goods were sent to every civilised part of the world and British industry was supreme. But since 1914 we have steadily and consistently lost ground in our overseas markets. Even in 1919, immediately after the last war, and when the world was starving for manufactured goods, our exports were 44 per cent. less in volume than they were in 1913, and in 1938 the position had deteriorated to such an extent that our exports had dropped in value to little more than half of those of 1924. Never before has our future been affected so vitally by export considerations. If we fail to increase our overseas 245 trade there is a danger that we shall not be able to maintain the standard of living that we enjoyed in 1939, let alone increase it.
The position to-day is that markets and customers have been lost owing to wartime restrictions, and to recapture those markets and, equally necessary, to open up new ones will call for research on a wide scale both by Government and by industry. Research into the needs and potentialities of foreign markets is necessary. Research in marketing technique is equally required. We need a new sale psychology. The attitude of take it or leave it, so much a feature of the past, will be an unsound policy for the future. We should apply research to the effects of large scale publicity, both in overseas trade exhibitions and in the foreign Press. On the whole we are poor publicists. The British industrial flag is too often at half mast. Finally, research should be directed to finding out the possibilities of trade in mass produced goods. There seems to be a consensus of opinion in this country that we can only sell high quality goods. By all means let us continue to develop the better end of trade, but it is a limited market. The bulk of world trade is in mass produced goods and this country should be able to obtain a fair share of that market. There are many who think we cannot compete.
It is a curious contradiction. On the one hand we are told that we cannot compete with Japan because of her low wage standards, and on the other hand we are told that we cannot compete with America, where wages are very much higher than here, because of their mass production methods. It seems a little inconsistent. I would almost call it a defeatist attitude. I hold the view that this country, with its dense population and its natural resources of coal and iron, is ideally suited for production on the most economic methods. But the fact remains that, although we have the most highly-skilled industrial population in the world, output per man-hour is much less in this country than in the United States, and it is fair to assume that this must be partly due to the fact that our factories and machinery are not as modern as they should be.
I may be saying something here with which my friends on this side may not agree, but I feel that it ought to be said. In my travels round industrial Britain I 246 have been shocked by the number of mills and factories, built in the middle of the 19th century at the time of the industrial revolution, quite unsuited to modern methods of production. Had they been dwelling houses they would have been condemned and pulled down long ago. Quite apart from the normal loss of efficiency resulting from the use of obsolete buildings, the workpeople themselves cannot give their best under such conditions. The same criticism applies to much of our machinery. It is antiquated and inefficient and incapable of competing with the modern high-speed machinery of other countries.
The cotton trade, one of our largest and oldest industries, has just published a report of its post-war plans. In it they envisage spending £43,000,000 en plant and machinery within five years of the end of the war. That is a realistic approach to some of their economic troubles, and I hope other industries will follow their example. But one cannot help gaining the impression that much of its machinery is obsolete, and what may possibly apply to the cotton trade may well apply to many other industries. We have built many large centres of production since the war, tank factories, aeroplane factories, gun factories and munition factories, laid out on the most modern lines. They are equipped with the latest high-speed machinery and they are achieving miracles of production. If the whole of British industry could be rehoused and re-equipped on these lines we should have little cause to worry about the future of British trade. That may not be possible, but the Government could well apply research by way of a census, industry by industry, of the state of our industrial buildings and plant so that we may know what we need to bring ourselves up to date.
In conclusion I want to say a few words about the reed for Government research into the problem of distribution. By far the greater percentage of our national production is absorbed by the home market, and any substantial reduction of distribution costs would not only increase the standard of living but would help towards securing the full productive capacity of industry, and thus help employment. I believe there is general agreement that distribution costs too much in most cases, and whereas research in industry has been devoted to reducing 247 production casts, and not without some success, little or no research has been applied to distribution, where costs have not been reduced but rather have grown. I have no wish to decry the services that the distributor renders. The merchant, the agent, the wholesaler and the retailer are all essential, but our distributive system has grown up in a haphazard way, largely improvised, and to-day we have a vast network of wholesale and retail distribution the cost of which bears little relation to the service it performs. The Minister of Reconstruction in another place underlined this fault and said:I have studied the retail and distributive trades of this country. I have no doubt at all that they represent one of the most expensive and luxurious factors of our national life."The Times", newspaper commented upon the waste involved in the maintenance of a vast number of these businesses, wholesale and retail, doing work which could be done equally well, and certainly more economically, by a much smaller number. It went on to say:This has been a major factor in creating and widening the gap between the cost of the producer and the price to the consumer. It has been a long-standing scandal.The one overriding fact is that the consumer is called upon to pay a price which is out of all proportion to the cost of production. To support that I want to give an example of distributive costs. I am speaking of pre-war days. With regard to foodstuffs, a statement which received wide publicity a short time ago was that it cost £850,000,000 to distribute foods the prime cost of which was £650,000,000. As a result of that statement the Ministry of Food made an attempt to estimate for the year 1942 the cost of distributing finished foodstuffs to the civilian population and it was found, as a result of inquiry, that whereas the goods in question entered the chain of distribution at more than £900,000,000, the retail cost to the consumer was estimated not to exceed £1,350,000,000.
§ Mr. Wootton-Davies (Heywood and Radcliffe)
Is my hon. Friend including in that the cost of advertising and distribution?
§ Mr. Shephard
No, nothing is to be added to those figures. They are the 248 cost of distribution after processing, carriage and all other incidentals have been taken off. The increase in price due to these distribution costs was 50 per cent. But many foods, tinned goods for example, are sold on very narrow margins. On the other hand, perishable foods show differences ranging in many cases up to 150 per cent.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Charles Williams)
This Amendment is largely to do with scientific research and if we are going into details, as the hon. Gentleman is, of the distribution of trade we may get very far from what is already a really wide Amendment.
§ Mr. Shephard
I am merely trying to point out that there is need for research in distributive costs and am trying to give -examples to illustrate my point.
§ Mr. George Griffiths (Hemsworth)
The hon. Member is dealing with the scientific part of distribution.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
We are going very far away from the really scientific side, which I think most people want to go into.
§ Mr. Shephard
I have no doubt that this same wide difference between producer costs and consumer prices applies in most trades. The crux of the whole trouble is that the distributive trade is overloaded and my own view is that some degree of rationalisation, both of wholesalers and of retailers, is necessary, and I see no harm in some form of licensing. The Board of Trade, through its Central Price Regulation Committee, has full knowledge of distributive costs, and I hope that Government research will be directed to an examination of those costs and their effect on the well-being of the nation.
§ Mr. R. C. Morrison (Tottenham, North)
It is very difficult to take part in this Debate, because there is a tendency, if one attempts to go into details, to plunge from one phase of the vast 249 subject to another. I do not think there is likely to be any great difference of opinion. The object of the Amendment, which I support, is to endeavour to bring to the notice of the Government the urgent need, if we are to survive as a great nation, of further research, but at the same time, having read the Government White Paper, they have no need to apologise for the amount of research that is going on. Everyone admits the great amount that they are doing. We desire to point out that it is not a question of their doing too little but that there is a tremendous amount which still remains to be done. There is a strong temptation to anyone taking part in a Debate like this to give specific instances. I will try to resist it, but I cannot resist giving one, because it only happened on Monday last. I was accompanying a member of the Government to a factory engaged in important war work where we saw, as the result of scientific research, that an important process which used to take 17 hours had been reduced to 20 minutes. Then we were taken to a research department where we were shown further experiments which were going on which, if they were successful, would in the next week or two reduce that time still further to 2½ minutes.
My reason for venturing to take part in the Debate is to say a word about agriculture. I do so with great temerity, because I am only a townsman, but take a little interest in some agricultural questions. The Minister of Agriculture gave an interview to the Press recently in which he paid a well-deserved tribute not only to the land workers but to the services of agricultural scientists. I believe that the right hon. Gentleman known quite well that before the war British agriculture was feeding only about 40 per Cent. of the population, but now, thanks to the help of agricultural research workers, it is feeding more than 70 per cent. Those figures ought to be known by all townsmen and country people, and so should the fact that one farm worker in Great Britain produces food for 17 people, compared with a farm worker in the United States of America who produces food for 13 people, in Canada for 12 people and in Germany for seven people. I think those figures are correct. They indicate that we are more highly mechanised, and probably apply more scientific methods to our agriculture, than any other 250 country in the world. This is not a time to be complacent over these things. I think the Minister would be the first to admit that still more can be done.
A few months ago I saw some of the national farms in Canada and the work that is being done by Canadian national farms. I have not had a similar opportunity of visiting agricultural research stations in this country and therefore I am rather at a disadvantage. I can only say that I was very much impressed with what I saw in Canada and with the amount of work that is going on. I am not in a position to express an opinion about this country, but if the amount of agricultural research going on here can be compared with that of Canadian national farms, we have every reason for being very proud.
I do not know whether the Minister of Agriculture noticed the very remarkable two-days Debate which was held in another place a few months ago, and in which some very important statements were made. The Government did not make any reply on the subjects which were raised, and I do not expect that any reply will be made here to-day about the general trend of that Debate, but I want to emphasise the importance of the Debate. Summarised in a few words, the object of the Debate was to discuss to what extent the health of man, animal and plant is dependent on the health of the soil. A healthy soil means an abundance of health giving food, healthy animals and, inevitably, healthy human beings. The reverse is also true, that an unhealthy soil means unhealthy food and badly nourished people. To put the question in a rather simpler form: To what extent has modern Civilisation reduced the fertility of the soil?
This question raises tremendous possibilities, far beyond the scope of anything contemplated in this Debate. The two-days Debate in another place touched only the fringe of the subject. I think the Minister will agree that the revolutionary changes implied in the acceptance of a principle of that kind will require research upon a most extensive scale. I therefore only indicate the possibilities of this vast problem, which is outside any consideration of private profits of any firm or business. It goes down to the fundamentals of our national existence. Perhaps the Government will soon be able 251 to give a reply to the speeches that were made, and to the passing reference which I have now made to them.
Another point indirectly connected with the land concerns the waste products of our large cities and their utilisation in industry and agriculture. Because of the growth of civilisation and of modern sanitation, a great deal of material valuable to the land is sent down the drains and the sewers and is dumped into the sea. Here, again, is a tremendous field for scientific research and guidance. The Minister knows that I have been dabbling in these things indirectly for some time, with a varying amount of success. We have found out in this war that hardly anything can be considered entirely useless.
I remember instances many years ago of the intensive industry of the Germans in this respect. I was informed that in Dresden, where the finest china in the world was made, the waste material from the manufacture of Dresden china was used to make dolls' tea services, which were sold for a penny or twopence, and that in another factory waste products were used to make mementos of Blackpool and other pleasure resorts in Great Britain. In another place where some of the finest watches were made, an annexe factory employed 1,000 people using the waste material to make penny watches. It is obviously much more difficult to make a penny watch than to make a five-guinea watch. In connection with salvage work, I have been impressed with the great waste of material in certain industries to-day. I believe that much of the waste could be utilised, and I hope that some attention will be directed to research into this matter.
This is not a grumbling or complaining Amendment that we have put down, but merely one to remind the Government that the House will be behind them if they take action in this direction. It has frequently been said that war is the mother of invention. We hope that that will be one of the results of the expressions of opinion upon all sides of the House to-day. We hope that the Government will be encouraged to renewed efforts, so that we may maintain our position as a really great nation. We hope that the dawn of peace may see still further research and scientific investigation into a multitude of 252 problems, most of which it has been impossible to indicate. I have tried to point out one or two vast problems to which Government assistance might be given for investigation.
§ Mr. Snadden (Perth and Kinross, Western)
I am glad to have the opportunity of following the hon. Member, who has drawn attention to the great need for extending our knowledge by means of agricultural research, which is designed to secure benefit not for agriculturists alone. It contributes very substantially to the general welfare of the community by increasing our efficiency and lowering our costs of production, and thereby raising the general standard of living. It has also a very important bearing upon the fundamental question of public health. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the benefits derived by the community as a whole from agricultural research are at least as great as those derived by the farmers.
Increasing yields per acre, the development of rust-resisting wheat, and higher milling quality are improvements, among many others, that have come about through the application of Mendelian principles. We have been able to breed animals with greater resistance to disease. Vaccines have been evolved and improved, and our knowledge of what are known as trace elements has conferred great benefits in many directions, even to the hill sheep industry. All these results have come from agricultural research and I would like to pay my tribute to our scientists. I have followed closely and with considerable advantage, the results of their work.
Nevertheless, no one would deny that, up to the outbreak of the war, taking the picture as a whole, comparatively little had been done in agricultural research. The three main diseases of farm animals, tuberculosis, mastitis and contagious abortion, for example, still remain the deadly menace of the dairy industry. Only three per cent. of milk producers in England and Wales turn out tuberculin tested milk. In Scotland the figure is a little bit better, 25 per cent. I dare say our conditions are different. If you take total milk produced in England and Wales, only six per cent. is tuberculin tested. In Scotland it is 33 per cent.
Such figures indicate the enormity of the problem ahead of us in wiping out 253 disease from our farm stock. I do not think this is due to any inactivity or any lack of skill on the part of our research workers. I think it is due to the long years of depression through which the agricultural industry has passed, arising from successive policies of restriction followed in this country and elsewhere. It seems to me that research must be stifled at birth, that it cannot possibly progress, under conditions of frustration caused by restriction, any more than agriculture itself can. I hope, as I think the right hon. Gentleman does too, that we shall embark in the future on a world policy of expansion of food production, and that such a policy will take the place of the false pre-war economy of restriction. Perhaps some will say that that is a rather pious dream, and it may be that I am personally prejudiced, as I wish to see the slate of disease wiped clean, but unless that dream is realised agricultural research in this country must remain in a rut, and, after all, a rut is not very different from a grave.
So far as I can see, two things can be predicted in the agricultural sphere with any degree of certainty. I do not think the Minister himself would disagree if I said that our future agricultural policy would appear to be one which will be based upon a proper balance between arable land and livestock husbandry, with the emphasis resting very markedly upon the latter, based in turn upon a definite expansion of what is known as the ley system of farming, having regard all the time to the nutritional needs of 45,000,000 people. Our greatest need to-day then is to improve the quality and the general level of production of our livestock industry, and, particularly of our dairy industry. That in turn calls for the ruthless stamping out of disease from our dairy herds, so I conclude that the greatest problem of agricultural research is the elimination of disease from the dairy herds of this country. A good deal of progress has, I think, been made here and there in the realm of tuberculosis. The Government and the industry have definitely made a great deal of progress by encouraging the production of tuberculin-tested milk, and it is good to see in the other sphere of British livestock industry, the beef industry, our greatest section of agriculture in Scotland, that two of our leading breeds have recently refused to allow to come to their sales any animals which fail to pass the 254 tuberculin test. There progress has been made.
But it would be idle to deny that up-to-date we have done anything more than scratch the surface of the problem of animal disease, and I would appeal to the Government to recognise that the time is ripe to go full steam ahead with this job of getting tuberculosis and mastitis, to mention only two of our most deadly diseases, under really effective control. The first blow in the battle against tuberculosis was struck by those pioneers who promoted tubercule free milk. No one can say, at least I should be surprised if anyone will contradict me when I say, that the battle has not been carried to anything like its logical conclusion. Up-to-date only the ground has been cleared. We have not even yet attacked the main position of the enemy, so that I conclude that an important place in our post-war agricultural policy must be given to a mass attack by all arms, agriculture, medicine, research and veterinary science, against these two fell diseases and others, and that it will only be through a combined operation that the desired result will be achieved, the effective control and final elimination of the main diseases which are the curse, and I am sorry to say, the disgrace, of an otherwise great livestock industry. I hope that more money will be forthcoming. I hope also that we may see more co-operation in the financial sphere from the agricultural industry itself. I see no reason why the agricultural industry should not contribute directly to research. I feel that to-day we are reaching the stage where the farmer really wants to make a job of this business of disease, and I am certain that he will come in and play his part, even in the financial sphere.
On another point, there would seem to me to be much need for closer co-operation between the research authorities and organisations and the practical farmer. There would also seem to me to be need for more practical knowledge among the research workers themselves. I read the other day the report of a Conference where a notable speaker said that out of the staff of 70 at Rothamsted, only two had any practical knowledge of agriculture. I do not know whether that statement is correct or not. If it is it is bad for the industry and bad for research, because the relationship to-day between research and the farmer is not as 255 good as it should be. I know there are difficulties. I daresay that both have their legitimate grievances. The farmer, for example, says—I am afraid I have said it myself in the past—that the research worker is out of touch with the real problems that beset him. The peculiar needs of the farmer, he feels, are not taken into account, that all their schemes are for big farms, whereas he is a little farmer. I do not think we realise sometimes that such things as credit facilities play a part in the industry. I think the research organisations sometimes forget that man must live, and that economics does not always enter into their calculations. The research worker says that the farmer does not co-operate, and I think there is a good deal of truth in that, I would like to see that put right.
I would like to suggest to the Minister that something might be done to form demonstration farms in each of our large agricultural areas, under local conditions, equipped in the normal way, with the normal credit facilities of the average farmer, so that the practical farmer could go along to these demonstration farms and say "I cannot make mine pay, and I would like to see how you do it." I know that there are arguments against this, but if it could be done nothing would give better results, because the farmer is a practical individualist. He appreciates research in terms of profit and loss, and if he has a demonstration farm where it can be said to him "You are doing wrong. Here is how it should be done. There are our costs, there is our profit," he will be convinced when he sees the profit and loss account, and notes what the profit is. I do not know whether that is a possibility or not.
Another suggestion I would put is that there should be no shelving of recognised organisations which have spent their lives in practical touch with some of the great problems of animal disease. When the new tuberculin, known as the Weybridge, was introduced in 1940 under the attested herds scheme, serious injury was done to herd owners throughout the country, not only financially, but through loss of confidence among those herd owners, who contended, and rightly so, that the tuberculin was not, in fact, based upon any real scientific foundation. In Scotland the owners of tuberculin-tested herds 256 attempted to approach the recognised Scottish research body, the new Advisory Council,. but they were refused permission to send a deputation on the grounds that the matter was outside the scope of the new Council's activities, in spite of the fact that that body and been created so that agricultural research might be linked as closely as possible with the practical needs of the industry. I am not, for a moment, blaming the Advisory Council in Scotland. They were bound hand and foot by red tape, and could not do anything else. What I say is that there is something wrong with a system which allows such a Gilbertian situation to arise.
The Department of Agriculture for Scotland has no responsibility in connection with the attested herds scheme. That seems to be an anomaly which should be removed if we are to solve the problem. What is needed is more decentralisation, more contact and co-operation between science and practical experience. I think that farmers will accept quite a lot of State interference, but what they are distrustful of is an extension of control by State officials unless it can be shown that the means to be adopted rest upon a really sound scientific basis. In the case of the Weybridge test as far as the Scottish herd owners are concerned they received great help from the hon. Gentleman sitting on the Treasury bench—I am not criticising him in the slightest degree. The English and Scottish herd owners were apparently right in their contention and the tuberculin was withdrawn.
We must not be led away by White Papers. They can impress very greatly at first sight. The one published in December, 1942, which I have here, impressed me very much, when I saw it at first. I had a picture of a great swarm of bees round the research hive, busily turning out all kinds of new schemes. One concluded straight away that the results achieved must be good, and that generally tremendous progress was being made. But take a disease like mastitis, which is one of the worst we have in the dairy industry. From page 11 of the White Paper one would imagine that the steps taken with regard to research into this disease were complete from A to Z, even down to the experimental station at Compton. Everything looks first-class on paper. What are the facts? Every herd owner knows that the results are precisely nil up-to-date. If 257 any results had been secured it would not have been necessary in Scotland for Scottish herd owners to seek a special conference with the Secretary of State on this subject. While very great help was given by the Secretary of State at that meeting, and an early conference between owners and the research body to discuss the subject was suggested, no beneficial results appear to have materialised, as a result of that conference. In fact, up to now, from the point of view of herd owners the conference suggested has not yet taken place. There is something lacking in the cooperation between the practical and the theoretical. When the Agricultural Research Council was formed, in 1931, that was a great step forward, but its membership seems to be too exclusively advisory. It would be greatly strengthened if its personnel were drawn from a far wider field. After all, our agricultural foundations were laid, not by scientists, but by farmers. We need more sound, practical men on our most important research council. Such a step would stimulate agriculturists themselves to do their best, and so play their proper part in the great work of reconstruction which lies ahead. I hope that the Government and those responsible for research will do everything possible to make more effective the contact and co-operation between research and practice.
§ Mr. Owen Evans (Cardigan)
I think the House will agree that the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee has justified its existence by the very informative Report it has published on this subject. I think that there is unanimity, in the House and in the country, among newspaper men and leading industrialists, that industrial research in this country is on too small a scale, and that it is entirely inadequate to maintain our position in industry and in commerce, especially in competition with other countries in the export markets after the war. There has been a considerable awakening in the past few years, but there is still great room for expansion and improvement. I once went to hear a lecture on "The greatest room in the world." We were all surmising what line the lecturer would be taking, and we found that the greatest room in the world was the room for improvement. That exists both in agricultural and in scientific investigations. There is a real cry, even a clamour, for 258 more research; and it is getting louder and louder. There are three things that we require. In order to have a wise organisation of research, we need a definite programme of research, more capable men to conduct research of all kinds, and more money.
I rather deprecate the comparison that we have heard in this Debate between what has been done and is being done in this country, and what has been done and is being done in the United States of America. It is very easy to give figures, showing that there are so many times more men engaged in research in America, that so much more money is being utilised for research in America, and that so many more people go to the universities in America. What we should do is to examine our own case, and to search our own organisation, our own industries, our own universities, and our own technical colleges, and see in what way we can improve matters most appropriately for this country, having regard to our population, our class of industries, and the raw material which is at our disposal, and then decide on some policy for the future. We should ascertain where we are deficient, what is the explanation for that deficiency, and how we are going to remedy it.
I shall talk mostly about industrial research, because there are others far more competent than I am to discuss Government research and research in our universities. Industrial research in this country must, of necessity, be directed to the industrial processes which now exist in this country and the discovery of new industries. We must investigate the processes which industrialists would have to use in developing those industries, and also we have to take into account the raw material which is in the possession of this nation, both in our own island and in the Colonial Empire. I do not consider that anything like enough money has ever been spent in this country on geological surveys. We do not know precisely how much minerals we have in this country. We should spend much more in ascertaining what we have in the bowels of the earth, and what we can utilise by getting them out. We know that Cornwall has got tin, and that it has got wolfram; but I suspect that no survey has been made even of those mines in Cornwall. The same thing applies to my own constitu- 259 ency, and to Merionethshire and Montgomeryshire, where there were prosperous lead mines in the past. I would like to know what steps will be taken to have a real survey of those mines.
I understand there will be a further Debate on this matter, so I will only touch upon it now, but the amount spent on the geological survey of the Colonies in the past has been lamentably small. Yet there may be wealth untold in the Colonies waiting to be obtained. I read that in another place Lord Geddes had called attention to the great difficulties that had been experienced in developing the North Rhodesian copper belt. One difficulty was that no adequate geological survey had ever been made of that area. The second difficulty was the almost entire failure to get technicians from this country, qualified to undertake the technical work in the copper mines. They had to go to other countries to get men trained in the 'metallurgical processes necessary for obtaining the copper. It is very unfortunate that, with all the riches that exist in our Colonies, we have not had sufficient foresight, at the heart of the Empire, to train men to go out to these Colonies; and so we have compelled the people controlling the mines to go further afield, to the United States in particular, to get men to fill important positions in those mines. The same thing happened with the gold mines of South Africa. The pioneers, with very few exceptions, were not British, they were mostly drawn from the United States. There was once a copper industry in this country, which unfortunately disappeared. Swansea was, at one time, the copper centre of the world. When America wanted to establish its copper industry, it was from Swansea that it drew its best men. I have met men in leading positions in the American copper industry—and my hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) has had the same experience—and their origin was the Swansea area. The same thing is true in regard to the tinplate industry. A great many Welsh tinplaters went out to America. It is not unnatural that when a new industry is established in a country, it draws experience from those older countries where the industry has prospered in the past.
Something has been said in this Debate about our falling behind in inventive 260 capacity. If we judge by the number of inventions that are registered and that we know about, that is true. I agree that we are more and more relying upon foreign firms, instead of utilising our own inventions. But, in the experience of those who have had anything to do with them, inventors are very queer people. They are terribly afraid that they will be "done." They are quite sure that their particular inventions are going to revolutionise everything in the particular industry concerned, but that does not often happen. I agree with Lord Riverdale, who said the other day that there should be some kind of central body to examine these inventions, quite impartially, and to protect the inventor. That would be a proper way to encourage invention, by encouraging inventors to go to an impartial body, which would examine inventions to see whether they were really worth anything in the field of international industry.
§ Mr. Austin Hopkinson (Mossley)
If such a body of men had existed in the days of George Stephenson we should have had no locomotives in this country at all, because instructed opinion in his time was against the invention and regarded it as perfectly useless.
§ Mr. Evans
I quite agree, but on balance I think scientific knowledge and experience have since then developed very widely. I do not think the circumstances are the same. I have had the privilege for 25 years or more to be connected with progressive industry, with an association that has brought new industries into being in this country. I am associated entirely with new industries. It is not the I.C.I. and has no connection whatever with the I.C.I.; not that I am criticising the I.C.I. because I am not sure I would not have liked to be associated with the I.C.I. However, I have no connection with it.
We have heard the expression "research and development." What is research? Where does it begin, where does it end, and where does development begin? I can only tell the House, as an illustration, and it is the best I know, that the so-called carbonate process of refining metals in this country was based on pure fundamental research. But the man who was engaged in that pure fundamenta[...] research was quick enough to see the pos[...] sibilities of it. He submitted it to a very distinguished industrial chemist. Ther[...] 261 was an industry based upon pure research, upon pure chance, if I may say so, but the man who saw it realised at once the immense possibilities and took it to a man who knew something about processes and productive industry. That is an example of a new industry which sprang up in this country. From that industry many other new industries have arisen.
Some hon. Members who get technical periodicals from America will have seen pages and pages of beautifully arranged advertisements in those periodicals, but, if I may say so, we are in advance of powder metallurgy purely through this particular industry which has drawn in other metals which have the remarkable property of a gas carbon-monoxide picking up a metal and forming a gas itself, and then dissociating itself again at another temperature. These patents expired, but immediately they expired there was not a single British manufacturer who saw the possibility of broadening and utilising them for the purpose of producing powdered metal. But the I.G. in Germany did, and immediately the patents expired they at once developed a big business in powdered metal and this country had to depend upon the I.G. at the beginning of the war to get powdered metal for radio work in this country. However, that has now been remedied, and the material is being successfully manufactured in this country at about an eighth of the cost that the I.G. were charging.
All these new industries—and I could mention half a dozen—have been founded on pure fundamental research applied to industries by experienced men who knew their possibilities. At the beginning of my remarks I said that our research should be mainly directed to our own industries, to founding industries and to examining the possibilities of our raw materials. Agriculture has been mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for West Perth (Mr. Snadden), and land, of course, is our most important raw material to-day. I have the privilege of working in a university—I am an executive officer of a university college in Aberystwyth. Only the other day it was announced that a very generous donor, Lord Milford, had established a chair of £1,500 for the purpose of studying animal nutrition and animal health, and other donors, also, have taken possession of a very large 262 farm in order to study this question in a practical way. I hope that the Minister, whom I am very glad to see on the bench just now, will be pleased when he sees the results of these investigations.
The other raw material is coal. Coal I can only briefly mention, but I can say that I was definitely amused at the pride with which it was announced that the whole of the coal owners of this country are going to spend £500,000 over a period of five years to investigate the possibility of using coal in various ways. I have no hesitation in calling that paltry and niggardly, and far below the necessities of the case. £500,000 is less than one per cent. of the total turnover of coal. As I have said, I have been privileged to be with an Empire company which is operating in Canada and in this country, and has established new industries, and is establishing new industries to-day, one in South Wales, which we hope will provide employment for a considerable number of people. In one year that single company spent £600,000 in research in Belgium and has been doing it for many years. I can only say that research expenditure on a scale of £500,000 for five years for a tremendous industry like the coal industry is really most niggardly.
What can the Government do? That is the point. I am quite in agreement with what has been said to-day, that the Government should not be called upon to finance private companies and should let them have complete freedom in research, but I do say that if there is an industry, however small, that is languishing, the Government should have something to say about it. They should want to know what the reason is. Is it because it is not progressive? Is it because it has not studied new processes, and so on? I think the Government ought to know why any industry, however small, is languishing.
There is the D.S.I.R., which is an extremely important body, and the Lord President of the Council is President of it. Are they getting the best men? I have in my pocket a little advertisement which is now in the Press. It advertises the post of superintendent of the Metallurgy Department of the National Physical Laboratory. Does not the House by this time realise that this country is mainly a metal country? The engineer could do nothing without the materials to build up 263 his designs of engines and so on. However, this is what it says regarding the salary for this advertised and very important post. The man occupying that post should be a recognised adviser and consultant and able to talk to his opposite numbers in connection with industries and metal. The salary contemplated is up to £1,250 a year—up to, mark you, £1,250 a year—but the starting salary would depend upon qualifications and experience. Just imagine that. How can the Government, the D.S.I.R., have competent men? Immediately they get a man out he goes, as somebody has already gone to a well-known Sheffield firm and is probably obtaining four times the salary. At any rate I should imagine he is. The Government cannot get men of real genius as research directors in connection with the National Physical Laboratory unless they pay them adequate sums of money and put them, at any rate, on an equal footing with administrators in the Services.
My concluding words are these. Whatever be the mass or quantity of research in America, we must always remember that America is a much bigger country, much wealthier, and has a much wider range and diversity of raw materials than we have. We are a poor country in raw materials. We depend on getting them from overseas, from our Colonies and other countries, but I do submit that the quality of our research is first-class. There is one instance which I will mention in conclusion. A great deal has been made by the Government, or, at any rate, with the approval of the Government, of the jet-propelled engine. The engineer-designer designed an engine which would work theoretically, but it could not work for any length of time. It was not a practical proposition. The metallurgists of this country began at once to design the material which would stand up to the stresses and strain of that engine and now it is, I understand, working perfectly satisfactorily. I think there are instances in this country where we are ahead of the United States, in quality and effectiveness and in the results achieved.
§ Sir George Schuster (Walsall)
I am very glad to follow the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Owen Evans) because he has brought us down to realities at various points, and I am sure we all agree that he has made a most valuable contribution. I 264 want to supplement slightly some of the things he said. I think it would be valuable also at this stage to make an attempt to put the whole picture together. We are all trying, really, to see whether we can make any useful suggestions. We want to produce effective results. This is, frankly, a utilitarian Amendment, and I propose to speak on it in that spirit. But as I see my hon. Friend the Junior Burgess for Cambridge University sitting opposite (Professor Hill) I should like to put myself right with him by making it clear that by speaking in that spirit I do not want to belittle the value of pure science. Indeed I regard the pure scientists searching for knowledge without thought of immediate or material reward as the salt of intellectual life, a necessary ingredient in any civilised, cultured society. So I value them for their own sake, but I also regard them as indispensable for other reasons since, if we did not have pure scientific research going on, all our applied research work would tend to be without inspiration and sterile.
But, as I have said, we are concerned to-day with immediate practical results. From that standpoint I join with all hon. Members who have spoken in regarding the amount of money which is allocated to research as quite inadequate. I, too, am concerned that it should be so small; but I am much more concerned about the failure to make full use of such knowledge as has been gained from the limited research carried out. Therefore I think that we ought to give our chief attention to the question why it is that the knowledge that has been available has not been taken up. It has been partly a case of failure to balance scientific knowledge with actual invention. But there has on the other hand also been a failure by British industrialists to utilise inventions which have been actually available. I could quote a great body of evidence from men who have had wide experience which appears to make it plain that the United Kingdom has fallen behind certain other countries in making inventions in a number of industries, and that the number of important manufactures in England worked under foreign licence or under foreign instructions is actually larger than the corresponding proportion in some other countries. My hon. Friend referred to Lord Riverdale's speech at Manchester. Lord Riverdale in that speech also said:It would be easy to point out a dozen or more first-class inventions invented in this 265 country. Nobody would take any interest in them, and they have been bought by Germans and then used either directly, as they were, or applied to some research they were doing and led to substantial results.Of course all these are generalisations not universally true, but I think it is agreed by men who have been connected with British industry that, broadly speaking, these judgments are correct. What we have to do is then to ask ourselves why.
Before answering that question it is also necessary that we should be clear in our minds as to just what is required in order to convert scientific knowledge into something which will help the prosperity of this country. My hon. Friend gave one very interesting example. I should like to quote another interesting example, which I have deliberately chosen, not from my own experience, but because I thought it would be more impressive if it came from a much greater authority. I was very much impressed by an article by Sir Robert Watson Watt —I think it was in the "Sunday Times" some months ago—in which he made this point:It is not, however, in the eruption of new and revolutionary conceptions that science finds its most characteristic, and, on the average, most important, mode of service. It is rather in the continuously evolutionary application of familiar scientific principles for the better doing of something which is already being done after a fashion.Then he went on, most modestly, to refer to his own achievement and experience in regard to radiolocation. Regarding that, he said:The physical facts on which it is based had long been known to many. The act of creative imagination which integrated these into a military probability was little more than an hour's exercise in approximate arithmetic and armchair audacity. The conversion of probability, into actualityand this is the important point—lay in sustained team effort, consisting in the main of stretching known methods to meet new needs.It seems to me that is a most instructive passage, and we have got to remember that this was an appliance of a very scientific kind. If we consider other appliances, and cases when it is vitally important that British industry should be inventive and progressive, the manufacture and design of machine tools, for example, it becomes still more clear what is the key importance of this practical process of "stretching known 266 methods to meet new needs." In fact we must not look to the scientist as a sort of magician who can wave a wand to give us all prosperity. It is a matter of hard work, of patient progressive steps, and also a matter of the marriage of scientific knowledge to practical experience.
It is against that sort of background that one has to consider what should he done, and I want to stress the need for three main lines of action. First of all, there is the need to create a more scientific frame of mind in British industry. It must be more thoroughly pervaded with the scientific mentality. What use is it having scientific ideas or inventions if people are not tuned in to take them up? Secondly, and closely connected with my first point, there is a need to bring about a closer interaction and exchange of work between those working on pure scientific research and those concerned with practical application. Thirdly, there is need to consider whether further means can be found to assist the stage of development and the practical evolution of new industrial ideas. On these three points I have time only briefly to outline certain practical proposals. As to my first point, in order to create a more scientific frame of mind in industry, I want to see a very great increase in the number of workers who are trained scientifically. And these have got to be available, not only for fundamental and applied research, but also to increase the proportion of men in industry who can be described as technical and scientific workers. And these men must be given a chance of expressing themselves. On this point, too, I would like to quote Sir Robert Watson Watt again:The scientific method must pervade all stages of production and all stages of the use of the product. The scientific worker must live with the maker and the user.Unless we can get that spirit, we can expend millions on research and new inventions, without reaping any harvest. To get it means education, and, of course, on that one looks back to our recent Education Bill. I want to urge to-clay— in the spirit already expressed by the mover and seconder of the Amendment—that we need a very rapid development of all forms of technical and scientific education in our universities, in technical colleges and in our schools. As to the universities, I stress the point, in passing, that research work and teaching must 267 both flourish, for unless the two are balanced together you are not going to get full value out of either. I want to stress the need for much more generous provision both of teaching personnel and equipment, and to urge that the newer -universities especially, are understaffed and underequipped. We want to have them staffed so that their teachers can have time to undertake research work. We want the same sort of generous treatment regarding the technical colleges, which I would like also to see staffed on a basis which will allow teachers time to carry on their own original research work. I want to urge too that there should in the secondary schools be a weaving in of science into a general liberal education so that the nation may gain advantage of all the potential scientific talent we have got. There is to-day an enormous waste of potentially valuable material.
Education is important, but education alone is not enough. Industrial scientific careers must be made sufficiently attractive. I want to put on record with my right hon. Friend the suggestion that we really need something like a MacNair Committee on the supply of scientific workers. I shall probably be told that there is a "Hankey Committee" already sitting on it. There seems to be a Hankey Committee on almost everything in this field, but I should like to ask for a special Committee to survey this matter.
That leads me to the closely connected point of the interaction between the pure scientists and the practical men. This is a vitally important matter. We want a two-way traffic, and a constant interchange of workers. I do not want the former to lose anything of their pure scientific quality, and I want the latter to remain frankly utilitarian. It is a fine national service, of which none need be ashamed, to make new ideas commercially possible. But we need a "mix" of the two. And in this mix of the two, we need also as a catalyst the man who can see what one means to the other. Thus we can produce results. Now this whole question of the interaction between the pure scientist—the university worker —and commercial enterprise raises questions of very great difficulty which are well known to anybody who has had anything to do with the matter. I have no 268 time to enlarge upon them, but will again content myself with recording the suggestion that it is really very desirable that that matter should be specially inquired into with a view to working out practical arrangements and a code of conduct. I am not sure that a Government Committee would be the best for this inquiry. It might be better if a Committee of university workers and industrialists could go into the question; but, possibly, the Government might encourage it by saying that they would like to see an inquiry of that kind carried out.
I come now to my third point—the question whether something can be done to assist the stage of development and the actual introduction of processes. We heard a very interesting statement from my hon. Friend who is connected with one of the most progressive international metal companies. But we are not concerned only with these large companies. If all our organisations were like that we should have little to complain of in lack of progress. But we have to consider the position of our great mass of small industries. It is among them particularly that we want to create a spread of the scientific mentality. In their case the financing of development expenditure often proves to be an unduly heavy burden. It is worth considering what can be done to help them. I agree with my hon. Friend in deprecating some of the comparisons which are often made now with the United States, but I think we have quite a lot to learn from them, and there is one interesting lesson which might be valuable in this connection. That is their experience with the Mellon Institute, where it is possible for small firms to create fellowships and send their men to work there with first-class appliances on the solution of particular problems. I think it is worth our while to consider whether something could not be done here on those lines.
Then, of course, in considering the question of encouraging development, one enters the whole field of taxation, over which the hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benson) has travelled already. I do not want to deal fully with that to-day. We shall get the Budget next week and I hope we may hear that the Committee which has been inquiring into these matters has been able to persuade the Chancellor, who I know is most sympathetic towards anything to do with the 269 encouragement of scientific work, to adopt a very generous line regarding research expenditure. I hope we shall also have some evidence of a step forward in the direction of taxation relief in a form which will encourage the "ploughing-back" of profits into industrial development. I leave these matters till next week and will only, in passing, throw out this one idea. If any hon. Members opposite fear over-generosity of private enterprise, I would ask them to remember that the public purse is now interested to the extent of 50 per cent, through Income Tax plus an extra margin through Surtax, etc. This may well represent a total interest of something like 70 per cent. in the profits of industry. Therefore; if the Revenue authorities are a bit generous in deciding distinctions between capital or revenue expenditure, they are going to get a very large part of the benefit immediately if industry profits. Also, in the long run, they really cannot lose by it, because there will be so much less depreciation to be allowed for as a future deduction from taxable profits. I want to urge therefore that the revenue authorities should not be under the influence of too great a fear that they are going to give a lot away if they are generous to industry in this particular form, and if thereby they encourage expenditure on development.
Lastly under this head I want to throw out an idea to the Government. One cannot ask them to commit themselves to any general policy of helping private industries, but there are certain fields in which the Government should consider mobilising the public credit to enable large scale development work to be undertaken. I have in mind the possibility of providing grants for large scale tests with some of these coal treatment processes, for example, the Fisher Tropsch process, in which the hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) has for example shown an interest in the Report of the South Wales Reconstruction Board. I do not speak as an expert, but many people tell me that we ought now, even during the war, to be spending money in putting up an installation of that kind, not necessarily for processes which are altogether new, but in order to gain the "know-how" of treating coal in that way in this country, and thus from our experience perhaps to advance to new developments and new processes. Therefore I do seriously put it to the right hon. 270 Gentleman, that the Government ought to consider generous financial provision for special purposes and on special terms in cases of that kind.
There are a great many other points that I wanted to make, but I must stop. There is only one thing I wish to say in conclusion. We shall never get the whole of this research business going with a proper swing in the setting of a restrictive economy. We need to have an expansive economy; we need to exorcise the fear that, if you develop new labour-saving devices, you are going to throw men out of jobs without the chance of finding others. If the Government can find the methods for a successful expansive economy, and if within that setting they can be inspired by the suggestions made from all quarters to-day then we shall have done a very good day's work.
§ Mr. A. Hopkinson
On several occasions in the course of his speech, to which I listened with the greatest interest, the hon. Member told us that we industrialists ought to have inculcated into us something called "scientific mentality." Can he explain exactly what he meant?
§ Sir G. Schuster
I cannot explain that to my hon. Friend because he has already got it. But I would ask him to go round any of our small industries to discover examples of what I mean. I would ask him too to examine the experiences of small manufacturers, who think they are going to be progressive and say, "Research seems to be a good idea, let us have a research worker." I would ask him to ask the experience of sonic of these research workers who find themselves employed by people of that kind and are then expected to produce the rabbit out of the hat the next morning. I really do not think that the question of my hon. Friend needs answering, because the answer must be obvious to anybody who has had a general experience of some of our more backward industries in this country. I need say no more.
§ Mr. Price (Forest of Dean)
This Debate has narrowed itself down, although it has covered a very wide field, to certain rather definite propositions, and I think it is generally agreed that if this country is to maintain its standard of living in the post-war world, it must maintain a very high standard of technical efficiency 271 in its industry. Although the reforms which we foresee in our education system as a result of the Education Bill will, we hope, create a new body, that body will not live unless we inspire it with the spirit of scientific research. I am very glad that this Amendment has been put before the House, because it enables us to see how we can inspire, and how the State can assist in inspiring the development of scientific research which, in the long run, is necessary as one of the ingredients by which we shall maintain our high standard of living.
The Debate 'has shown that there are two main methods of doing this, the first, in the direction of State assistance to pure science; the second, in the assistance that it can give to applied science in industry and to agriculture, and last, but not least, public health. Like the hon. Member who spoke earlier, I am not so much impressed by the argument that because the United States and Russia spend so much more per head of the population on scientific research than we do, that therefore we ought to screw up the figure to that amount. That is a rather too easy an ad hoc argument. It is unwise to create the impression that the results of scientific research are directly connected with the amount of money spent upon it. It is not like a sausage machine, where you put in meat at one end and the sausage comes out at the other. The results do not depend entirely, but only in part, upon the money that is spent. Rather would I say that it is like a field where there is potential fertility, but cultivation as well as the application of manure is needed to obtain the desired crop. Moreover, the law of diminishing returns reacts fairly quickly, as any farmer knows, and beyond a certain figure it is probable that you will not get commensurate results if you spend money on scientific research. I am informed by a very good university authority that, on an average, this country turns out one first-class physicist per annum per million of the population; about 45 first-class physicists are turned out by this country every year. I do not want to argue from that, that we should not necessarily spend any more in this direction. It is probable that as regards the first-class brains, further expenditure of money is not likely to bring much more. On the other hand, with regard to the second-class but ex- 272 tremely useful brains, nevertheless there is a great deal now going to waste. There is no doubt that if we could spend money in encouraging research students it would be a great advantage.
§ Mr. Price
Money is now being spent and the first-class brains are there. There is a limit of first-class brains, but where we need to spend the money is upon producing the second-class brains, to assist the first-class brains. A great deal of invaluable work has been done in the discovery and development of radiolocation by a large number of research students, working on grants of £120 a year from the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. They were the assistants to a certain number of first-class men and the feeling in the universities, among those who really know, is that if the Government can see their way to increase this amount of grant, from the very small figure of £120 a year for the research student to something higher, probably that is where the cultivation of the already manured soil might produce the higher crop which we desire.
I am particularly stressing this matter because, up to now, many speakers in this Debate have referred to industry and the application of science to industry as if that is the main consideration. I am not going to deny that that is important, but pure science is the source from which all this springs. It is here in our universities that there is that great aristocracy of intellect not affected by the profit motive from which inspiration has come and from which our civilisation has benefited and is benefiting. There is the University Grants Committee which advises the Treasury how grants are to be made. I am not sure whether this Committee is constituted satisfactorily. It is under the control of the Treasury and appointed by the Treasury. I think it would have been better to bring the machinery which gives grants to the universities more directly under the office of the Lord President of the Council, who already has the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research and other scientific bodies under his wing.
I am inclined to think that it would be a good thing to bring the financing of pure research by the State, to the universities under the same apparatus as advises 273 in regard to grants made towards scientific research in industry. I do not say the Treasury should not be represented but we are more likely to get the scientific point of view represented, and not merely the Treasury point of view, if we have machinery of this kind with the department of the Lord President of the Council to deal with it. I would plead that one of the first things to do is to see that the present grants for pure science to universities are increased. At present, the figure is only about £50,000 a year—that is the grants to universities for pure research. They should be, at least, doubled. Further grants should also be given for special and very expensive appliances, which are needed if this work is to be properly carried on, because some of these scientific problems do require most expensive apparatus. I will not deny that it is important also for the State to take an increasing interest in research carried on by private industry, if only because the State has become so directly concerned in the welfare of industry; also that because of the standard of taxation, industry itself will not be able to finance, as in the past, the very large demands of the present situation.
On the other hand, it will not do for this to be uncontrolled. The profit motive does not apply in the case of the universities but we cannot be sure how far the application of State funds will redound to private interests, and therefore a much stricter control must be placed on this kind of State investment in research, than in the case of the other. But the second must follow after the first because, otherwise, we shall not get the full results. I come back to what I believe to be the most important of all these demands, and that is pure science at the universities, because here we shall be able to find the key to many of the problems which plague the modern world. Enormous value has come to civilisation from the study of pure science, though it has not been plain at first. But results come sometimes even quicker than one expects. Although I do not wish to belittle the efforts of private industry, still we cannot do the great work before us unless we look to the centres of learning as the source from which inspiration is to come.
§ Mr. Wootton-Davies (Heywood and Radcliffe)
I am glad to follow my hon. Friend the Member for the Forest of Dean 274 (Mr. Price) because, in this matter, one thing I quite agree is essential, and that is fundamental science and fundamental research. But to-day, it may be said, fundamental research is undertaken by two bodies, the universities and private establishments. In the private establishments, it is not always undertaken for the good of the country alone; it is sometimes undertaken to prevent progress and not always for the good of any single nation. But, by and large, if we are to make any real progress, we must have fundamental research at our universities. And how is that done at the present time? Professors are grossly underpaid; they are forced, in order to keep themselves, to take consultative work, which means that this fount of pure science is not available to everyone in this country.
There is often another great danger in the graduates we turn out. Much has been said in this Debate about the small concern. Where are the small concerns to get their first-class men from to-day? It is common knowledge that most of our chemical graduates, most of the small number of physicists, go to one or two great big people, who sift the wheat from the chaff, and the chaff only becomes availaible to the smaller concerns. The House will expect me to make some sort of proposal on how to get over it. I suggest that fundamental research should be organised by some sort of Parliament of Science—that universities should be represented on some sort of committee or parliament, with some directive force, such as a Prime Minister of Science to direct it. Anyone of us who has to deal with this question knows that the bane of any professor's life is to find a subject on which his students can do research. More often than not, the subject is chosen so that graduates can take a degree. This is not for the benefit of a nation or the great schemes of a nation. And very often when a new thing, or a new reaction, is discovered, all our universities hunt the same hare and some men are largely wasted. I suggest to this House that professors, be they ever so noble and yet underpaid, cannot be expected to live, as Milton said, forFame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise(That last infirmity of noble mind).While they are working separately, we cannot expect to get organised science and 275 to get progress. The problem, therefore, is how to translate science into industry, if we do get them organised?
There are one or two ways. If we supply more money to these universities, there will be a greater number of trained graduates. Surely, these graduates are the best missionaries of science, the best people to link industry with fundamental science in the universities. I am not going to admit that industry is indifferent to science, but industry must become more open-minded. This science which germinates in our universities belongs to this people, and any industry which uses that knowledge against the nation must be tackled. Only to-day a friend of mine telephoned me. He was the inventor of a process for making glacial acetic acid, 100 per cent. acetic acid, from alcohol. This process is at work in two factories in this country. At the moment, India is about to buy an artificial silk plant which will cost £1,000,000. Now India has got that money and will get the plant somewhere, but before she spends that £1,000,000 she will, naturally, wish to see what she will get. And no British manufacturer will show this acetic acid plant, nor will they show the machinery for making artificial silk, and that order will go to America. Not only industry but all our workpeople must be more open minded. Members of the House will remember the time when welding came into use. Its inception always reminded me of the old days when Lancashire people tried to destroy cotton machinery. Ships were once riveted and five or eight men did the job. Welding made it possible for two men to do it but five or six men had to look on. I do not know if that position still holds to-day, but I do say that, not only industry and private enterprise, but every working man and woman in the country must be more receptive to science and what it can do, and take advantage of it.
One thing this Debate will do to-day. It will tell the world we are not unmindful of science. Among the nations of the world we are not considered a scientific nation. We have rather neglected our inventors. Things, perhaps, have been too easy. Perkins invented analine dyes; the Germans developed that until, in 1914, Germany produced 90 per cent. of the world's dyes. The position is rather different to-day due to science in this country 276 but I do think we ought to ask ourselves why we, who invented dyes, who invented wireless, why we who have done so many things have never brought these things to fruition. I am going to say that it is almost entirely due to our attitude to pure research. Germany has gone in a big way for the marriage between pure research done in their universities and industry and has done more than could have been done by either side singly.
If we are to progress we must protect our scientists and inventors. The Patent Law in this country is by no means perfect and I would like to see some sort of Committee get on to this job and see if we cannot protect the inventors. I am going to tell the House a thing I know something about and what I call the tragedy of an inventor losing the products of his brain. In 1902 Norman brought out a process of hydrogenating oils, that is for sticking hydrogen into oils. It was the first time that this technical process for putting hydrogen into a molecule had been worked in this country. In 1908, 1909 and 1910 it was being worked in Lancashire as a commercial proposition. The patent ran, you take a refined oil and add a nickel catalyst prepared as Sabatier described in the comptes rendus and bubble in pure hydrogen—the oil becomes white and hard. From the process you get your margarine. That was the first time oil had been hydrogenated; it was applied to mineral oils later. Naturally the inventor did not want to disclose the exact details of his patent, hut nobody else could work it. What happened? An enormous sum of money was spent to imitate the process, but ordinary chemists could not repeat the reaction. Professors were employed and they could not do it. It could not be done, so the lawyers came into it. They said, "If the ordinary chemist cannot make this thing, if the good chemist cannot make it, if the professors cannot make it, this patent is a had patent." As a matter of fact in 1910 that was the position, and this patent, which was a revolutionary one, was entirely lost to the proprietors because they had not disclosed all the details.
I think we must try to protect inventors. I suggest that if the Government could be part-signatories to the patents they would prevent them being stolen, they would prevent the misuse of them and, most of all, they would prevent patents being locked up in a safe, so that they 277 could not be used, which is perhaps the most dangerous of all. I have had to earn my living as an industrial chemist, and I am glad my hon. Friend warned the House that the chemist, the scientist, is not a conjuror. He is not there to produce rabbits out of a hat, as was rightly said. He is not going to remove all the ills of this nation, but if this country will appreciate science more than it has done, if it will back it, if our bankers will give the young inventor and the young scientist some little money to start these undertakings, it will go a long way. How many inventors do you see dying millionaires? No, the syndicate must have it, the financier must have it, but the man who does the trick is usually left out in the cold. So I appeal to the Government to increase these grants to the universities and also look into the patent position. I think the Debate has been an opportunity of telling the world that we are not quite so blind to the use of science as might be supposed.
§ Mr. Edmund Harvey (Combined English Universities)
As one of the representatives of the universities in this House I would like to thank the last speaker, and other speakers who have made an earnest appeal to the Government for greater financial assistance to the universities, especially in the matter of research and the teaching of science. The Debate has made it clear that on all sides of the House hon. Members realise how important this issue is to our future. It is tragic that it should need a war to awaken us to the immense importance of this issue. It has happened in the past that only during war time has there been a utilisation of scientific research and discovery and then, when a time of peace has come, this has been neglected. In the famous case of the discovery of the electric telegraph, the young inventor, after the close of the Napoleonic war, wrote to the Admiralty to announce his invention. He receive in reply a letter in which my Lords thanked him courteously and told him that, as the war with France was now over, there was no need for further inventions with regard to the telegraph. So that invention was laid by almost for a generation. We must surely see to-day that we act now—not just wait for a happier future. We ask the Government to take prompt action now, to enable the universities to go ahead.
278 Allusion has already been made to the inadequacy of the present scale of salaries at the universities, and the difficulties under which teaching and research goes on. I could have given, had time permitted, a number of figures to illustrate this, but I do not think I could do better than by reading a single paragraph from a letter which I have received from one who is doing remarkable work in a responsible position in one of the universities which I have the privilege to represent. I think his words are true of the scientific departments in many other universities. He says:Members of science and medical faculties are ill-paid and over-employed with teaching and sometimes routine duties. The burden of teaching compared to the Arts standard is overwhelming. The opportunity for good investigational work has often to be fought for, and this struggle is a waste of energy and time. I used to eat my lunch at my bench each day so that I might use my lunch period, at least, for research. This problem is one of staffing. We are shamefully understaffed, both for teaching and research. Indeed, the position is so bad that we have lost some of the capacity or the vision or the courage to see and to ask for what would be adequate.Those words, coming from one who is in a responsible position, show how great is the need to-day. If it is great to-day, how much greater will it be when the war comes to a close? We must not forget that then we shall have to deal with vast arrears. We have our duty to the men and women who are serving in the Forces to-day, who have been deprived of the opportunity of study, and who will surely be encouraged by the State to take up the broken threads of their lives and go on with the best help that can be given. If that is to be effective, the university staffs must be increased. They are overworked to-day, they will break down tomorrow with the influx of new students. Then we have to remember that there is human material of the utmost importance to the nation which will be wasted if we do not give this further opportunity to the universities to train the scientific workers of the future. All those young men who have gone in for radio-location, and have had a limited period of scientific training in the universities, must surely be helped when the war comes to an end to complete their training in the interest not only of their own lives but in that of the community. There will be a vast increased need in the secondary schools for science teachers, and those must be supplied by the universities. As has been 279 pointed out, that will involve increased capital equipment as well as increased annual help for the regular charges on the university.
I hope we may have a clear assurance from the Government that these needs will be met. It may be said, "Are we sure that this is coming in the right way and that it will be spent in the right way?" One or two Members have already made suggestions as to improvements in the present method, but I believe that the different universities, whatever improvements they would like, are grateful to the present University Grants Committee for their labours. They have an admirable Chairman and the Committee has worked in the most friendly spirit in the past. But I think it would assist, if not the University Grants Committee, the work of the universities, if there could be formed in the near future an advisory council for the universities to allow for the interchange of experience, for the development of work in harmony in different parts of the country, the prevention of overlapping and arrangements for starting of new chairs that are needed for new subjects, so that money will not be squandered by three or four different universities trying to start some new chair in a particular subject when one university would be sufficient if the effort could be concentrated. Unless you have some such machinery as that you cannot prevent a good deal of waste of money and human effort.
We have no other opportunity than this of making a suggestion of this kind, because the work of the universities is rightly left free to them and I do not want Parliament to interfere with that. Indeed, I was delighted to hear Members from both sides of the House emphasise the importance of the freedom of research work and of the freedom of the whole life of the universities. That can and should remain but we can, I think, have some arrangement by which there should be better coordination among the universities themselves and I hope that the Government, through the Lord President of the Council, may be able to encourage in some way that voluntary association of universities through a universities advisory council. I am aware that already there is the machinery of a committee composed of vice-chancellors and principals. This is 280 a most valuable committee but it has no legal existence; it is a self-constituted body which has done useful work and will, no doubt, continue that work in future. But we need, in addition, a wider council which will represent the actual teaching and research staffs of the different universities. I hope I have made clear how important it is that this should be the work of the universities themselves. When some of us were assured, recently, that universities are looking forward with keen interest to this Debate to-day, we were told, at the same time, by some of those who have distinguished themselves in science and who were deeply interested in its progress, that while they felt the urgent need for this assistance they did not want it to come in such a way as to make the gift to the universities a lopsided one, destroying the balance which is essential to the life of the universities between scientific work and work on the arts side.
It is characteristic of the generous attitude of the faculties of science and medicine that in making this appeal today they are also asking the Government not to forget the almost equally urgent need of the arts side of the universities, if they are to do their part in the life of the nation, not only by supplying the teachers, technicians and research workers which industry needs in the future but something more than that, to help the whole life of the nation in its deepest place, to give something which they can give from their position which cannot be given by any other means and which can never be supplied even by the best of Government Departments.
§ Captain Plugge (Chatham)
As Chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee for its first four years of existence I would like to voice a word of appreciation to the Government for having afforded this opportunity for a Debate on a subject which has come so much to the fore in past years and during the present war. Our battles have been won by the heroism of our sailors, soldiers and airmen, but we must not overlook the fact that they have also been won by scientists working in their backrooms and in their laboratories, and by the great discoveries which they have evolved in the scientific world. As a result of the war, many subjects have arisen within the world of scientific research and I 281 would first like to call the attention of the Government to the lot of the research workers themselves. Have we treated them fairly? Do they receive sufficient remuneration for their services? Scientific research workers form the spearhead force of our war industry. They are the commandos of our civil workers.
If we compare the status of the scientific research worker in the Civil Service with the administrative branch, we find that salaries are sometimes 30 to 40 per cent. lower and that promotion in the administrative branch goes more rapidly and with greater jumps ahead than for the research worker. Yet the research worker is a man who has to be exceedingly alert, who is not left to carry out routine work, and has always to be ready to accept the new and the unusual. Therefore, I feel that there is room for great improvement in the emoluments paid to scientific workers and in providing for a more reasonable way of arranging for promotion. Promotion, very often, is only brought about at present according to establishment or length of service. In the case of scientific research workers, it should be based more on work achieved, on special success in one direction or another, and should be left more to the discretion of research executives, who are in a better position to judge the ability and aptitude of any particular scientist who is working under them.
I also think it ought to be made possible for research executives to make special monetary awards to scientific workers for special results which may have been achieved. We have, for instance, in this country no special civil honour for the scientific worker. It is true that there are the letters F.R.S.—Fellow of the Royal Society—but this is a very great honour and one very much coveted, and the scientific research worker can hardly hope to be awarded such a high honour before reaching the age of 45 or 50. Could I suggest to my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council that he might consider the possibility of a special civil scientific decoration or award as there exists in other countries? Such a scientific order could be bestowed upon scientific workers for work carried out in the laboratory, not necessarily under danger, but as a result of great forethought and perseverance?
282 By granting special monetary awards, by increasing salaries and by making promotion more rapid and more in keeping with achievement, I feel that the status and prestige of scientific workers would be very much enhanced in this country; They would feel that their work is appreciated by the community at large, and the community at large would benefit by the great amount of specialised work that they are carrying out for the country and for the community. Although scientific research has been given a great fillip during the war, we are certainly not carrying it out on anywhere near the scale on which it is carried out in the United States and Russia.
Nevertheless we have had certain advantages and I should like to carry the House into one specific field. So many subjects could be quoted and many have been reviewed by hon. Members but I should like only to talk of one. When I worked at the National Physical Laboratory and when I served on the Directorate of Research at the Air Ministry, my subjects were aeronautics and aeroplane construction. I should like however to refer now to a subject which relates more to my later work, the development of radio. Immediately before the war we were very backward in many fields connected with radio but there was one where we were ahead of all other countries and where we could be favourably compared with the United States. That was in television. No single man has invented television as we know it to-day, although we must not forget such names as Campbell-Swinton, Baird, and Zworykin. It has been the outcome of the work of a great number of British scientific workers. They are the "backroom boys" who have produced what we are using to-day. I should like to ask my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council if notice has been sufficiently paid to the achievements of these men and if, for instance, great scientists such as Alan Blumlein and C. O. Brown, who lost their lives so tragically two years ago in the performance of their scientific duty, have received-posthumous awards.
We are too liable to forget that not only soldiers, sailors and airmen lose their lives in war. The "backroom boys" are often carrying out similar work and running similar risks. Grants made by the 283 Government are few and far between, and I have on many occasions had reason to criticise, and even condemn, the B.B.C. on matters of policy. But I am only too happy to have the opportunity of giving praise where praise is deserved, and I feel that if Lord Reith and Sir Allan Powell, and Sir Noel Ashridge through the B.B.C. had not provided the funds, the field and the opportunity for the development of television, we should certainly never have seen television so ahead as it is in this country to-day, and it is television that has been the forerunner of that great development radiolocation, which the Americans have christened with a so very much better word and call "Radar." Radar would probably never have been born, had it not been for the great number of television circuits which we evolved by scientific research workers in this country.
We have parted to the United States with a great deal of this advance work, and I should like to ask my right hon. Friend the Lord President if safeguards have been taken on behalf of these young British inventors and research workers, with regard to the patents which, normally, would have been taken out for their inventions. We have been very loyal to our Allies and in the course of the war, very rightly so, have given them an enormous amount of information which has been fully used by them. America is not well fitted to carry out an immediate intermediate production stage when standardisation is not yet reached, but now we are getting rather near to standardisation and the Americans are getting ahead of us. In the meantime we have parted with our information and the time to take out these patents has expired. Are steps being taken and negotiations entered into with the American and Russian Governments to make sure that the legitimate interests of these British inventors are safeguarded, and are closing dates being properly extended so as to permit the possibility of taking out those safeguards?
Few people realise how science penetrates deeper and deeper into our lives. Few realise that after the war we shall not only have in our homes television such as we have known it but television in colour and in three dimensions. We shall all have the television phone by means of which we shall never talk to anyone 284 without seeing them, being with them and being seen by them at the same time. We must be prepared to face these new inventions and be able to adjust our mode of living to them. We must for this have a Ministry of Arts and Science.
Take a commodity which we all use—the newspaper. Do hon. Members realise that the newspaper as we know it to-day is completely obsolete? The newspaper of the future is going to be printed in our home by radio. It is completely obsolete to transport daily hundreds of tons of paper with news which will be stale when it reaches us when this news can be transported through the ether. When you go to bed you will press a special button on your radio set according to you being a reader of the "Daily Express," "The Times," the "Telegraph," "Daily Mail," "Sketch," or even the "Daily Herald." In the morning you will simply tear off your chosen newspaper and read up-to-the-minute news with all the usual special features and photographs just ready for use.
§ Captain Plugge
Radio will also be able to print HANSARD in a similar manner. This apparatus, the "Finch Facimil," is in actual operation in my laboratory to-day and is due to the genius of Commander Finch, of the United States Navy, a world known scientist in the field of telecommunication. Radio will go still further. It is destined to give us a new method of travel. It will be obsolete to pack a bag and go into a train to board a ship and cross the seas in order to carry out our business. You will be able to detach your mind from your body for the purpose of business journeys. Park your body by the seaside and by the side of your family and those you love, and radio will detach your mind from your body and send it through the ether at the speed of light, carry out your business and bring it back with the same lightning speed. This may seem sensational, but George Stephenson was told 120 years ago not to disclose to Members of Parliament that to travel 30 miles an hour with his locomotive was possible. They might turn down his proposals. Twenty-five miles an hour was the highest figure he was allowed to disclose. There are many examples of progress like that in the past which must 285 have seemed sensational. I am talking of advents which although very close at hand will take two or three generations to get used to when I speak of detaching the soul from the body and extending our spirit and our mind through the great distances of space by the combination of the radiophone and the televisionphone.
§ Colonel Greenwell (The Hartlepools)
Does my hon. and gallant Friend sec any risk of the soul or the mind getting back into the wrong body?
§ Captain Plugge
My hon. and gallant Friend's suggestion allows my imagination to see further possibilities which the future will no doubt be able to take care of.
These possibilities will certainly come to pass and we must be prepared. This brings me to my suggestion that the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research which has such a brilliant record might well form a useful nucleus for a Ministry of Arts and Science. In most democratic countries there is a Ministry des Beaux-Arts, a Ministry of Fine Arts, which includes science. It has been needed for many years in this country.
I should like, before I sit down, to draw attention to one other specific point. This relates to the supply of gear and scientific instruments for laboratories. After the last war the occupied countries which had lost the whole of their laboratory apparatus turned to England for that equipment, and we could not supply them. There are many more countries occupied in this war than in the last and it would be very hard if because of our fault we could not supply them, and they should be compelled to turn towards Germany for their laboratory equipment. As the result of our failure in the last war we were thrusting into European students' hands instruments and apparatus made in Germany. What will be the effect upon the student of the next generation? He starts to believe that only Germans can create those instruments. He is led later to read German books, and when he comes against a problem he goes to Germany to find the solution. We must be ready to supply the laboratories of Norway, Holland, France and Belgium with all the scientific instruments and apparatus they want. We can produce instruments here as good as any that can be produced in Germany but we must have some assistance from the Govern- 286 ment to ensure that the instrument makers have plants large enough to produce scientific instruments in great quantity and quality as well as to produce what the Continental countries really need. It is a most important point.
I am afraid that I have exhausted my time. I wanted to stir hon. Members with one or two other suggestions about what will happen in the future. [HoN. MEMBERS "Go on."] Despite that very kind invitation, I will conclude by saying that I hope this Debate will do much to further the advance of scientific research in this country, so that England will be able to lift up her head proudly among the nations of the world and take her place with them in accordance with the high scientific achievements of those great British scientists who have gone before us.
§ Dr. Haden Guest (Islington, North)
Like everyone who has spoken in this Debate, I support the Amendment. I am very hopeful that the Government will make a pronouncement that they are proposing to make more money available for scientific research. I want to contradict to some extent remarks that have been made conveying the suggestion that if you pay a man £2,000, you get so much research, and that if you pay him £4,000 you get twice as much. That suggestion is entirely nonsensical. The value of research cannot be measured by the payment made to the research worker. If it were the case that research workers give good results only when well paid, we could never have got anywhere at all. Up to the present, research workers have been very badly paid and there is a very good case for all research workers to be paid on a higher scale. I think the suggestion made earlier hit the nail on the head. It was said that those who wished to do research work were prevented by the pressure of teaching and routine duties, and that it was necessary to relieve them from such pressure, in order to give them free scope for research work which might bring interesting results. We have just been hearing about such results from the hon. and gallant Member for Chatham (Captain Plugge) in his fairylike trippings over the ether waves.
One of the interesting things about this Debate is that it has been made the occasion for presenting to the House a White Paper on scientific research de- 287 velopment. I want to direct the attention of the House to the last page of the White Paper where is stated the constitution of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the War Cabinet. It is a body formed in war-time and includes the Lord President of the Council and others. The Chairman is the President of the Royal Society, while two secretaries of the Royal Society are members, and there are also the secretaries of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, of the Medical Research Council and of the Agricultural Research Council, representatives of very powerful scientific bodies.
This Scientific Advisory Committee ought to have not only functions laid down for it in the White Paper—to advise the Government about scientific problems referred to it, and so on—but it ought to be asked by the Government to suggest what money should be spent on research and how that money should be allocated as between industrial, agricultural, medical and other research, and pure and applied research. It also ought to plan research in advance, so to speak, not in detail but in the general plan. Only men of the calibre of those who are on the Scientific Advisory Committee are in a position to make this contribution to the planning of research. They ought to be asked to plan the main outline of research work, and to say what money would be required. They are in a better position also to say how much should be paid to scientific research workers than are some Members of this House, who seem to take as the only criterion of what rewards should be given, the rather excessive rewards of some of those engaged in industry. I do not think that we ought to try to scale up to that sometimes excessive height. I believe that if this were done, and the Scientific Advisory Committee were asked to prepare a plan of development and research, say for the next 10 years, and to state what amount of money ought to be allocated to the different departments of research—more money is certainly required—we should get a scientifically conceived plan. After all, that is what we require. We know that a very great deal in this direction can be done.
Let me remind the House of a proposition Which the whole world, as well as this House, has applauded. Approval was given at the Hot Springs Conference 288 on Nutrition, a little time ago in the United States, to the proposition that all nations should supply the proper amount of food to their peoples. All nations have undertaken to do so, or at any rate, all those who are allied, and who were represented at that Conference and subsequent conferences. The possibilities of that really revolutionary world policy affect agriculture, as well as medicine and the science of nutrition. This policy was made possible only because the scientific foundations were laid by the Health Committee of the League of Nations as long ago as 1925. From that date, the Scientific Committee of the League of Nations produced various reports, including the report on the Physiological Basis of Nutrition. This report, which I have in my hand, was produced, I think, in 1936. Because of that scientific work, the later great social and economic work was possible. It would not have been possible without that kind of plan which we ought to have in regard to industry and every other department of our lives. There ought to be scientific planning on the widest possible scale.
The Colonies and Colonial development are mentioned in the Amendment. It is only by large-scale scientific planning of what should be done that we shall get proper Colonial development. We can never get it by asking people to invest money and then employing labour at the cheapest possible rate. Take the territories of West and East Africa, with their 40,000,000 odd people and immense natural resources. We can plan their development in precisely the same way as the Soviet Union have planned the development of large areas of their own territory, in order to improve the nutrition of the people and abolish the diseases which afflict them and which can be abolished by the application of medical knowledge. We can survey the geological and other natural resources, and with all the knowledge at our disposal, we can make a plan which will give us Colonial development on a very large scale.
If we are to have real value from scientific research in all departments of our lives, the research must be carried on in close co-operation with scientists of other nations. Science must be international and all research workers ought to be given an opportunity of travelling and making contacts with scientific workers in other countries. It is a most 289 important thing, because they will get new ideas, hear new views, see new problems. I hope, therefore, that in any provision that is made for increased scientific research in the immediate future there will be very considerable provision for allowing scientists to go on considerable and long journeys to all the different parts of the world to make contact with other scientific workers in other countries, and to see the other problems which arise in those countries, which they do not come into contact with in our own.
I return to what I said in the beginning, that the way to get this plan of scientific development, and I hope the President of the Council will take this into consideration, is to announce that the Scientific Advisory Committee of the War Cabinet is not only to be a war measure but is to be made permanent, and that this Scientific Advisory Committee shall be asked to make a plan for the development and carrying on of scientific research for a ten years period in the future.
§ Major York (Ripon)
I shall not follow the hon. Gentlemen the Member for North Islington (Dr. Guest) except to say that I was glad he was able to say what he did about making the food production of the world into a world nutrition policy. I am certain that if we have an expansionist policy in this country we shall be able fully to use the vast resources which science is putting at our disposal to-day. I wish for a few minutes to go back to the subject of agricultural research, which was dealt with as to some aspects by the hon. Member for West Perth (Mr. Snadden), because there were certain gaps which he left which I hope to fill. At present agricultural research is hampered by the residue of the "fight for survival" farming, which was the fate of the agricultural industry, just as it was the fate of many others. On top of this came war necessities. Most of the research which has been going on during the past few years has been largely related to that war necessity, and to obtaining the nation's food supplies at all costs.
It can, therefore, fairly be said that a constructive and consecutive research has been side-tracked for a considerable period, and it is only now, when we have had four years of agricultural activity on a wide scale, that once again we see the possibility of a really live agricultural 290 research policy. The organisation of that policy has been laid down in the report of the Committee of the Privy Council which was issued in February, 1943, but there appears in that document to be no defined purpose for agricultural research, and the objectives seem limited and haphazard. I would like, if I can, to try to put a purpose for agricultural research. It is to take the unknown element "natural growth" into the service of man, and find ways of giving it the best chance of survival and multiplication, guarding it against known enemies, and anticipating new enemies. When discussing objectives I must point out certain differences between the agricultural industry and other industries, because while in other industries which have been mainly discussed to-day there are raw materials which can be varied, and changed rapidly and repeatedly, that is not possible in agricultural research, because the raw materials are natural growth, living organisms and soil. They cannot be changed, they can only evolve slowly over a period. It is rather a curious but nevertheless a true fact that we have never been able materially to alter the rate of growth. I believe that the gestation period of an ass is still 380 days, as it was in Biblical times.
I want to discuss very briefly three missing links in the agricultural research world. They are co-ordination of effort, regional research and the dissemination of information gained through research. I am quite convinced that a co-ordinated national plan of regional research into soil and into animals is vitally necessary at the present time. Regional research into regional problems of production is where the lack of co-ordination is at present most noticeable. For instance, in the North of England there has been, in the past, very little actual research work going on, and that mainly of a private nature. This has been made good to a large extent during the war under the help and stimulation of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, but a great deal of leeway has to be made up, and the results of this research do not get out to the farmer. This dissemination must be done by education, by farm institutes, by colleges, and there are practically no colleges open at the present time, and by research stations which should be at least within 50 miles of every farm in the country. These research stations should not only be open to all but should be worth the while of all the 291 farmers in the neighbourhood going to see, for in no other way can the information gained by research be put quickly into practical use. In no other way can the farmer and the scientist get together, nor can the scientist get his information properly utilised.
Research into soil, crops and the chemistry of the farm have made very great progress over the past years; there is no doubt that we can now grow practically three blades of grass where one grew before. That has been done by heavy expenditure, by new knowledge of cultivation and fertilisers and so on. We are now able to say that we have conquered heavy clay land which 50 years ago was subject to the gravest suspicion by anyone who claimed to be a practical farmer. But there is a great need for further research into the composition of the soil. In the veterinary sphere, which has been fully dealt with by my hon. Friend, I feel there is a lack of direction of research into the positive health of the animals. All research that has been going on has been into preventive work and not into positive health. A great expansion of money would be well justified, in the interests both of the nation and of the industry, because of the great losses which have been sustained every year through animal disease.
I want to discuss research into animal breeding and genetics, especially in cattle. As far as I can gather, there is no work whatever going on in this country, except for a small localised effort in Edinburgh. In America, at a place called Mount Hope, for 15 years a very carefully worked-out scheme has been followed, to find out the production factor in milk cattle, and it has had a great deal of success. For instance, they have found that the productivity of the daughter of a cow is halfway between the parental levels. Suppose we were able to fix the dominance or recessiveness of that factor of milk production, it might make an enormous difference to the welfare of the industry, and more especially to the welfare of the country. If we were able to raise the milk yield per cow, we should thereby reduce materially the cost per gallon. That is a line which we ought to follow. We ought to have research centres dealing with breeding and genetics, and those centres ought to be fully co-ordinated with all 292 the high-class and extremely clever breeders that there are in this country.
In research in agricultural engineering, there is a limiting factor, which is not so dominant in other industries. No agricultural equipment of any sort can ever be fully efficient, for no equipment is used for more than three or four months in the year, with the exception of milking machines, and they are used only for three or four hours in a day. Therefore, capital costs are always high for the output attained. But, subject to these limitations, we need to find the all-purpose tractor, which the small farmer, farming 50–100 acres, can use. We need to make sure that this tractor and the implements behind it are within the financial resources of that type of fanner. In planting and harvesting machinery, we are very backward in this country, and, although there will always be only a limited demand for this type of machinery, the present models are most primitive. Research is also urgently required into the drying of grass and corn, and I would appeal to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture and ask whether he could not get started on some really deep research into these two problems. I know that there is some research going on into corn drying, but there is none whatever, so far as I know, into the drying of grass. Research is inadequate into equipping the farm and the Askham Bryan Institute in Yorkshire is the only place where this research is going on.
Let me say a word on finance, because, as in every other type of research, it is the inadequacy of finance which is holding back progress in this matter. I understand that the Government's expenditure for 1942–43 was just over £400,000 a year. As to private expenditure, I have no definite figure, but I imagine that the total figure cannot possibly be £100,000 a year. The Milk Marketing Board spent £27,000 in seven years up to 1942. The National Farmers Union have, so far as I can discover, spent nothing at all. Yet the cost of animal diseases alone is £20,000,000 to £30,000,000. There is a turnover in the industry of £600,000,000 a year. It is surely in the interests of the industry to reduce production costs, to increase the health of the animals and of the soil, and thereby to increase the standard of living of the fanner and of the farm worker. A 293 levy of one quarter of one per cent. of the income of the industry would raise £1,250,000, at least. Would it not be in the interests of the industry that the industry itself should raise a large portion of that sum, and would it not be in the interests of the Government, on top of that, to increase the £400,000 a year which it is expending at present. Progress in farming is a combination of science and of good farming. It is a combination of private thought and private experiment with Government assistance and co-ordination which will produce the science. The British farmer will produce good husbandry.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
I am sure that I shall be voicing the view of every Member who has listened to this Debate in saying that we have had a very interesting and a very informative Debate, and I hope that, when we have listened to the reply of the right hon. Gentleman, we shall find that it has been a profitable Debate for the House and for the nation. Two kinds of speeches have been made. Some Members, including those who represent the universities, have pleaded very eloquently for greater financial assistance for universities and other bodies which are engaged in what is called fundamental research, to maintain their work and to develop and expand it. I am sure that those who have spoken in this Debate, as I propose to speak, more from the utilitarian standpoint, will agree that it is essential that the universities and their allied bodies shall be given the greatest possible assistance to carry on the great task of fundamental research. If that is not maintained and expanded, there will be no discoveries and no inventions which we can apply to industry to the advantage of the wealth and welfare of the nation. Then, there has been the other kind of speech, calling attention, first of all, to the inadequacy of the expenditure which has been applied to research in agriculture and in industry, both by the Government and by those research associations that are connected with particular industries. In that case, too, there have been pleas—and I will add my plea in a moment or two—for a very big expansion.
The war will have given, both to fundamental research and to research in agriculture and in industry, a very great impetus. I read last week, as I hope that 294 many other Members have read or will read, the very important and interesting document produced by the executive body, or the body comparable to the executive, of the International Labour Office The report which that body will present to the convention of the I.L.O., which meets in Philadelphia this week, refers to the fact that in this war, more than in any previous war, technical and social evolution has been given an enormous impetus. I will quote some sentences from the report, which puts the position very much better than I can do myself. Here is what they say in this respect:In terms of technical and social evolution, the war has telescoped years into months and generations into years. New inventive processes have increased. Aviation, radio-location, television, light metals and plastics, prefabrication, dehydration—these are but the precursors of that new age which will add to the world's wealth and welfare in the next generation, as coal and steel and the steam engine, electricity and the internal combustion engine, added to it in the past.I think those words indicate that during the war there has been an enormous development in, and a very great impetus to, fundamental research and applied research, and the problem we have to confront is in what ways we can maintain, increase and expand the tremendous work done in the war to the advantage of our country. I want to refer to two aspects of this. It is clear that we are entering upon a new industrial age and that we are living in a transition period, in a new industrial revolution which will have very great consequences for our nation. Britain, as we know it to-day, is the Britain built up in the 19th century upon the basis of its older basic industries. They provided the main source of our wealth inside the country and also the bulk, or the largest quantity in money, of the export trade of the country. In between the two wars we saw a decline of the old basic industries, both in their importance to our internal economy and in their importance to our export trade.
Therefore, we have to confront the fact that the old basic industries, upon which we have based so much of our economy and upon which we have depended to such a very great extent, are not, in future, in their old form—and I emphasise that—going to provide the same kind of life for us. Therefore, it is essential that we should regard this problem in a utilitarian light and ask ourselves, first, 295 how can we use the new scientific knowledge that is available to us and apply the new technical processes that have been derived from that new scientific knowledge to the resources that are available to us so that we can increase the wealth of the nation in the days that lie ahead. I think the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Owen Evans), who spoke earlier, approached it in the right way when he said that, from this standpoint, the important thing is that we should concentrate, not entirely, but mainly, our work in this direction upon those resources which are available to us in this country and in the Dominions and Empire.
In our own country there is, first of all, the soil, and very interesting and very informative speeches have been made by many hon. Members, including the hon. and gallant Member for Ripon (Major York), urging the Government to be more liberal and generous in the provision for all research work and its application to the problems of our agriculture, because everyone realises that agriculture in future must play a bigger part in our national economy than for a long time past. I am sure the appeals made in that direction will not fall on deaf ears—the ears of the Minister of Agriculture, the Lord President of the Council, or of the Treasury, which has to find the money.
Next to our soil, what is our richest natural resource? Unquestionably our coal, and I want, therefore, to plead that we should pay far more attention to the development of the scientific use of our coal. I read quite recently a book which, though published some time ago, is still, I think, of importance, and the sentences which I am about to quote are equally applicable to-day as when they were written. The book was written by Mr. Hugh Quigley, and this is what he said:We have not yet begun in this country to make proper and real use of the immense wealth contained in our coal supplies. Coal, as a raw material, has probably been more carelessly handled than any other raw material in industry.Using the new technical knowledge available to us, there will be built upon the foundation of coal, I believe, a new kind of industrial structure. I have been sitting with other hon. Members for just over 12 months on an advisory council set up 296 by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) when he was Minister without Portfolio, to examine and advise the Government as to how we think the area which we know and in which we live could be rebuilt. There we come down very definitely on the need for a real foundation, a new industrial structure, for building up an integrated industry, such as coal, oil, power, and the chemical industry. We believe that what is essential is that all these industries, which derive from one another, should be treated as a unified industry. In the past, we have had one group of research workers and scientists, and sometimes of owners, going off in one direction to discover the ways by which oil can be extracted from coal. Some favoured low temperature carbonisation, others were for high temperature carbonisation, while others have concentrated on the generation, at ever lower cost, of electric power. Others have made researches in other directions. We believe that it is essential, if we are to make the fullest use of the knowledge now available to us, to bring the whole body of this scientific knowledge together, to work, not separately, but as a team directed towards the common end. We believe that the drive and the direction must come from the Government itself.
During the war, as a matter of security, because we have been cut off from some of our supplies, we have had to develop the beginnings of an integrated industry using coal as its foundation, and I want to put a few questions to the Government about this. Speeches have been Wade here to-day on this utilitarian aspect of the problem, and suggestions about the desirability and necessity of our building up new industries in the post-war period. The truth is that we have established an industry of that kind during the war—not wholly, but very important elements of it—and therefore what we ought to get from the Government at a very early stage is an answer to this question—have the Government got a definite plan by which this new industry which war circumstances has compelled us to build up will be maintained? Now that we have begun in the circumstances of the war to build up this body of scientific knowledge for the benefit of industry, is it, at the end of the war, to be scrapped? We have, for the first time on a large scale in this country, begun to produce 297 carbide. With other hon. Members, I became interested in this. It is a basic industry, an industry in which, by processes which are fairly well-known, coal and limestone are converted into carbide. That is only the first process. That carbide could be changed into other things —into an ever-widening range of products. Why stop at the first one?
§ Mr. Griffiths
That may be so. I was concentrating on what my hon. Friend said, that we must develop the resources available in our own country. I was thinking of the development of carbide and what comes from it from our own resources of coal and limestone. I agree that these other things can be made from other raw materials, but they cannot be made in this country.
§ Mr. Griffiths
Up to now the bulk has come in this way and it does not invalidate the argument. We have the industry. What is to happen to it? It is a basic industry and upon it other industries can be built. I hope that the Government will bear that in mind and pay attention to the problem. During the investigations we discovered an interesting thing. I know that it is due to the circumstances of the war, which the Government could not control, and I am not therefore blaming them, but it so happens that one of the most promising and potent developments the war has compelled the Allied Nations to undertake is the production of synthetic rubber. Scientists have told me—and I accept their word for it—that the production of synthetic rubber is extremely important, not merely in order to learn how synthetic rubber itself can be made, but in order to learn the various things that are learnt in the making of synthetic rubber. The only important country engaged in this war which, during the last three years, has not been producing synthetic rubber is this country. America, Russia and Germany are doing it, and our own technicians and scientists have 298 not had a chance of seeing how it is produced. They have had no experience. We put a proposal to the Government two years ago that, in view of the importance of this process to our scientific and research workers and technicians, there should be established, in connection with the plant already referred to, a plant for the production of synthetic rubber. Nothing came of it. It is a great pity. I see that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Production is here and I believe that his Ministry had something to do with it. I believe that the suggestion was a good one then, and it is a good one now. If he would consult the scientific advisers in the Department, they would tell him what a great deal it would mean if our own scientific advisers could have an opportunity to take part in this process, as so much knowledge and experience could be gained of immense importance. I hope that the Government, by the maintenance and retention of these industries, and the building of other industries upon them, will utilise the scientific knowledge we have already. Unless we utilise it and its advantages are brought to the people, of what use will be the effort?
I turn to another aspect of the problem. We are told that industry in this country is crying out for more and more technical and research workers. I want to put in a plea for what is becoming a very important section of the community in this country—the great number of technicians and scientific and research workers. Industry needs them and will need more and more of them. I say to the hon. Member who moved the Amendment and to others that industry has no right to make a great plea here or elsewhere for young men to come and give of their scientific knowledge, very often dearly bought, to industry for the abominable wages and salaries that are now paid to them. I will read from a letter, which I saw in a newspaper some time ago, written by a member of a technical staff engaged on design at an aircraft factory. He refers to the fact that there had been a suggestion mooted in an aeronautical engineering journal in favour of the establishment of an aeronautical college in this country in order to train a new team of aeronautical engineers. He goes on to say:If there is to be the training of more and more men, it is essential that the salaries and 299 careers available shall be commensurate with the high standard of technical training and skill demanded from them.He gives this example:In my own plant, where I work, there are nine of us; the average age of the nine is 28. All nine have Batchelor of Science honours in either the first or the second class. Each one of us has, on an average, had seven years in aircraft design work. Our average basic weekly salary is £5 17s.I put it to my friends in industry, that if industry needs more and more scientific workers of this kind, better brains, more highly qualified, these workers are entitled to a salary commensurate with their skill and training for their task. In the application of scientific knowledge to industry, in many cases, the jobs are dead end jobs. This has been put to me many times by young men who have gone into the metallurgical industry. An hon. Friend who spoke earlier belongs to one part of it, perhaps the biggest part of it in more senses than one, where there is a high salary, but there are other places where young men from college receive only £4 a week, and that is the end of it. If industry is to attract the best scientific brains from colleges and from the faculties of science and technology in the universities, it must give them a salary that will enable them to live at a standard commensurate with the services they give to industry, and must provide opportunities for advancement. At present they are dead end jobs. They stay until the end of their working lives, receive a wage of £4 or £5 a week, and there are hundreds of these men to-day who feel a sense of frustration. They tell me that they were under the Essential Work Order at that salary. I appeal to those responsible for industry, who say that they want more and more young men to come and give of their best, to offer these men a better inducement.
§ Mr. Levy
I think that the instances the hon. Member has quoted are quite exceptional. I am associated with a firm which employs 400 chemists and scientists such as the hon. Member described, and the bottom wage at which they start is far in excess of anything he has quoted. Therefore, do not blame industry, but blame the Essential Work Order for freezing these men at that wage.
§ Mr. Griffiths
The Essential Work Order may have frozen the wage, but industrialists have fixed it.
§ Mr. Griffiths
Quite likely there may be substantial additions, but at what cost? Many of these young men in industry are working 70, 80 and go hours a week. From one corner I get an interruption that this wage is an isolated example, and from another that it is basic—
§ Mr. Griffiths
I was proposing to leave it, but what I have said evidently got under the skin of some people. I want to put this point to the Lord President. Since the beginning of the war large numbers of young men from the universities, technical colleges and other walks of life have been drawn into Government service in the Ministry of Supply, the Ministry of Aircraft Production and other Supply Ministries, and they are engaged in research work at varying levels. I want to put in a plea for them. Very many of them have gone straight from college and university to these posts. What is to happen to them when the war comes to an end? Some of them had from three to five and sometimes six years in college or university before they went to their present posts, and they took their degrees. Now they have had this experience I would like to see provision made by which they can be enabled to return to the university for further study and research work. I should think that at least 10 per cent. of these young men deserve to get further opportunities after the experience they have had. It would be a splendid thing for the country in the long run if it got the full advantage of the experience they have had and they were given opportunities for further study. They cannot do that unless they are assisted. Increasing numbers of such men, come from working-class homes, and the wages they have had in the Government service have not enabled them to save very much. If they are to get further opportunities it is essential that there shall be provision in the way of generous scholarships to enable them to go back to the universities and resume their studies and to engage in research work. In that way we could build up that team of scientific and research workers which the country will so badly want.
301 I want to deal with what is obviously a controversial question, to which reference has been made in the Debate. There is a growing feeling of suspicion that over the whole field of discovery and invention, particularly in the inter-war period in this country, there was the frozen grip of the combines. Very often a combine got hold of inventions and discoveries, not in order that they might be used, but in order that they might be frozen. There are many of us who suspect—we may be wrong, but we are entitled to put our suspicions—that one of the reasons we have not had a development of an integrated coal, oil, power and chemical industry in this country is the influence of the oil interests in this country. It is essential that the scientific knowledge, and the inventions and discoveries that flow from scientific knowledge, shall not be frozen by any kind of cartel whether at home or in the international field. This knowledge has not been built up as the result of one man's effort or one man's discovery; it is a cumulative result from the work of many people. Inventions are social creations. No one of them stands out alone. They are all the ends of long processes to which large numbers of people have contributed, and all have in them the possibility of developing, extending and increasing the standard of life and adding to the welfare of our people. How are they to be used? Are we at the end of the war to return to a control in which, by a restrictive economy of scarcity, scientific inventions and discoveries are not utilised to the full to increase the standard of life of peoples everywhere but are got hold of by combines in order that they may freeze them in the interests of their own private ends and profits?
I would, therefore, put this to the Lord President. We fully support from this side all the pleas that have been made for greater support to the universities so that they may develop their fundamental research in complete freedom, giving scientists the opportunity of working on their own untrammelled by anyone, because that is the way important discoveries are made. We agree to more money being made available for research into applying science to industry, on the condition that if the knowledge thus made available is the result of public money it shall be used for public ends and not for private ends. Finally, we agree that the Government must ensure that at the end of the war 302 we shall have an economic system that will provide for the full utilisation of all our resources, human and material, in order that we may build up the higher standard of life which the people need and deserve. In these days we hear a great deal about the possibility that at the end of the war we may be a poorer country, because, it is said, we shall have to depend more and more upon our own resources. I hope that that does not frighten us. We have material resources in this country in our soil, in our coal and in our other minerals; we have resources in the knowledge, the skill and the craft of our workmen equal to anything in the world. What is required is an organisation at the centre which will make full use of these resources. If we had that organisation we need have no fear for the future welfare of our country and our people.
§ The Lord President of the Council (Mr. Attlee)
I am grateful to the hon. Member for Pudsey and Otley (Sir G. Gibson) for having taken advantage of his luck in the Ballot to raise a matter of such vital importance to this country. I think it was essential that this matter should be raised, and it has been raised on an Amendment with which I find myself in general agreement. We have had an interesting Debate. I have heard most of the speeches, except when I had to go out for a little necessary nutrition, and I shall read carefully those that I have missed. I felt sure when the Amendment was put down that I should find in these speeches a great deal of information, and I have not been disappointed. I should like to refer particularly to the speeches of the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Owen Evans) and the hon. Member for Walsall (Sir G. s Schuster). They were both extremely informative speeches. There has been a whole range of speeches raising particular points of interest. Some of these perhaps went a little beyond this Debate, and I shall have to take care in replying that I do not trench on the preserves of some of my colleagues.
My hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benson) dealt with the interesting question of the Inland Revenue in relation to research institutions. I should hate to anticipate anything that the Chancellor of the Exchequer might have to say on that subject. I recognise the eagerness of my hon. Friend to get on to 303 that seductive subject of finance. My hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), in a very interesting speech raising some points with which I will deal a little later, trenched on some matters which are concerned more with the question of industrial reconstruction, but they can come up again when we debate those matters. The Government are in full sympathy with the terms of the Amendment which is, indeed, in full accord with the policy which the Government are following now and which they desire should be followed in the post-war period.
I do not intend to cover in detail the present provision made for scientific research and development. I think the White Paper which we circulated has given hon. Members a good deal of information, and perhaps some information that they had not quite had before in their minds as to the extent of the support given by the Government to research. It covers a wide field. There are the organisations with which I am more particularly connected, the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, the Medical Research Council, and Agricultural Research Council; and in addition to these there are the research activities of industry which are helped by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. There is a whole range of research work carried out by particular Departments, and in the White Paper there has been given a general conspectus of these activities, with one great exception, and that is the bulk of the work being done in direct connection with the war. For obvious reasons it is impossible to set out in detail at the present time the amount of work and, particularly, the direction of the work of our research Departments. I am quite sure, however, that this House realises the debt the country owes to our scientists, and I am sure it is present in the minds of all hon. Members that, to a far greater extent than ever before, this war has seen the application of science to the production of weapons of offence and defence in all three elements.
It has 'been said often that we have tended to fall behind other countries in the quantity of our scientific output and the number of our scientists. It is quite true that other countries have more numerous bodies of scientists, and devote more 304 money to science, but there is no doubt whatever—and this war has shown it—that in quality we fully hold our own. I do not know whether the warfare that goes on between the scientists is sufficiently realised. We think of the war in the air, the war in the sea, and the war on the land, but there is also the war that takes place in the study and in the laboratory, and there the brains of our scientists are pitted against the best brains of our enemies. They have not been found wanting. Instances have been given, and there are a great many instances that cannot be given. One, however, was alluded to by an hon. Member, the countering of the magnetic mine and the acoustic mine, and the speed with which the answer was found to the enemy's weapon. Another instance is the development of the various devices for detecting the submarine. Indeed, the Battle of the Atlantic was fought not only by our crews on the high seas, but by the scientists continually at work at home. Take again the ever increasing efficiency of our aircraft. Perhaps most striking of all has been the development of radio. There is a field in which our scientists have consistently led.
I mention these few fields of activity—there are a great many more—that we may be conscious of our debt to the scientists, that we should recognise this great asset which we have in the brain-power in this nation, and that we should make full use of it in the post-war period. However, it is inevitable that at the present time our best scientific minds are devoted to the war effort, and this Amendment is rightly directed to the consideration of post-war problems. Before I leave the question of science and the war, there is one field perhaps not so generally known. It is called operational research. After operations have taken place there is a kind of post-mortem by trained scientists who make a careful examination of all the factors that have made for failure and success so that we may learn by them. It is a remarkable development.
This Amendment, however, deals with post-war matters, and it rightly stresses the vital part which research and science can play in reconstruction. I can assure the House that the Government are fully alive to the fact that the winning of the peace, just as the winning of the war, will largely depend on a full and a right use of the scientists and of scientific organ- 305 isations. The Amendment goes on to ask for a bold Government policy and for Government assistance. This we shall give. The Government should give assistance, and should take a lead, but it is not a thing which can be left to the Government. Government support for research must be backed by a readiness to use the results of that research. It must be backed by public opinion, and the nation must become more aware of the importance of science. Now that is a matter, I think, of very slow growth in a nation like ours. There is sometimes a danger of thinking of science as something quite separate from the rest of human activity, almost a thing you keep for a special day in the week. Science should not be something suggested as a kind of after-thought. We should be utilising scientific methods right through all our activities of Government and of industry, and industry must be ready to take advantage of the new openings which the application of scientific research affords.
I was very glad to hear that point made very strongly by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardigan, by my hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly and other hon. Members. We must constantly keep in our minds the need of moving into new fields of activity. It is the nature of a highly industrialised country like ours, that we should gradually move away from the older, the coarser, the simpler products towards the more refined ones, and we must acquire the readiness of mind to do so. It is not enough to have highly skilled scientists in your universities or even in your research institutions. You must have receptive minds in those who are carrying on industry, and receptive minds in the general public.
The Amendment asks for money. That is very good. The hon. Member had, I thought, a very advanced idea of money, because a million is only a token payment to him. I would like a token payment like that; it seems to me very considerable. I think the request is quite right but, remember, it is all right to call out for money now, but, if you want your research to go on, if you want your universities to flourish, you must get sustained support for this kind of effort. I cannot help remembering that at the end of the last war there was an enthusiasm for these things and then came the "blind fury with the abhorred shears"—though it was not shears, it was the Geddes Axe. 306 That cut down a very great number of promising things. Industry must make up its mind that it does not intend to be stunted by anything of that kind again. I was particularly glad to hear the hon. Member for Walsall say that we were not going to move into the restrictive sphere. We have learnt during this war the urgent need of promoting the growth of scientific knowledge by its practical application to industry. It was after the last war that the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research was created, and it did escape the Geddes Axe. That Depart-merit, as hon. Members know, devotes its funds partly directly to the prosecution of research and partly to the stimulation of co-operative research by industry. That is important, because there must 'be partnership in these matters. If it is all to he done by the Government for the benefit of industry then industry will not take much notice of it.
The great advantage of co-operative research organisations are that they make for a lively interest by those people who are contributing. Some industries have been far ahead of others in making use of these facilities. Some have been very slow, but there has been a quickening recently. The development of these research organisations has not been conditioned by any reluctance on the part of the Treasury to find funds. Indeed, we have been urging the extension of these undertakings but, as I say, there has been a slowness on the part of some industries. Where these research organisations have been set up there are always keen business men who take advantage of the results achieved, but there is always a certain number who do not. The research worker works in vain if the minds of those engaged in industry are not sufficiently educated to appreciate what is done. I am told that perhaps we lag behind the United States, not in the quality of our research work, but in that there is a wider dispersal of university education among industrialists in America than on this side of the Atlantic, which means that industrialists are readier to take advantage of research. I readily recognise that there has been a great awakening recently. There was a stimulating pamphlet by Sir Harold Hartley and there have been very valuable reports by the Federation of British Industries and by our Parliamentary Scientific Cornmittee. These have attracted wide atten- 307 tion. That is not the only side of industry that is interested in research. The T.U.C. has been showing great interest, and on it we have two Members who serve on the Committee of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, while the Mineworkers' Union have shown great activity in regard to fuel research.
There is another matter which has been engaging the attention of the Government, and which has been alluded to by several speakers in this Debate, and that is the need for the establishment of a fund of some kind to meet the cost of developing new inventions and of providing facilities for testing new ideas for industry. The Government recognise that need and the best way to meet it is now under examination. We must obviously consider how best this can be fitted in with the work of the co-operative research organisations in industry. I cannot at present give detailed plans, but when decisions have been come to they will be given to the House. This is not a matter, however, which has escaped the attention of the Government. We are very keen that these should not be any loss of valuable inventions. People of experience tell me that you do not find very many cases where really first-class inventions fall by the wayside. There are a good many inventions one hears about that are important more for the enthusiasm of those who think they have discovered something than for their own intrinsic merit.
I would now like to turn to a point raised in the Amendment, namely, the request for generous support from the Government for the extension of teaching and research at the universities. Here, again, the Government are entirely in favour with the spirit of that request. It has been said, rightly, that you cannot separate applied science from pure science. Pure science must go on at the different universities, and there is a fund to give the financial support that is necessary. The Government recognise that it is quite obvious that there will be a much greater expenditure both on fundamental research and on teaching at the universities. I do not think it is recognised quite how much is done by the Government in this regard, but a great deal is done, and the University Grants Committee, the personnel of which has been changed recently—with advantage, I think, by 308 making it somewhat wider—has not really been tied down narrowly by the Treasury. I think Members rather thought that it had. As a matter of fact, grants have been made in accordance with the requests of the universities and I think you will find that the universities have, in the past, been perhaps somewhat hesitant in seeking Government financial aid. They have the laudable desire of preserving their independence and are always a little afraid of selling their birthright for financial pottage.
§ Mr. Attlee
Yes, in certain respects. Formerly, its personnel were restricted to persons whose services were not at the time actively engaged in connection with a university. That has been altered. Generally, I do not think you will find that the Treasury have been niggardly towards the Grants Committee. I can assure the House that these needs will be met. I think my hon. Friend the Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. Harvey) was a little optimistic in thinking that it is easy to get all universities to work together. I think the Committee of Vice-Chancellors is admirable, but I doubt whether any statutory advisory body would be a really useful or possible thing to set up. The universities are very tenacious of their independence and their individuality and they are quite as capable of vigorous dissensions among themselves as any Members of this House.
We have to see to it that in the post-war world there will be an adequate supply of teachers and research workers. The question of supply is being considered by the Norwood Committee and the question of demand is being investigated by the Hankey Committee. We must have an adequate supply, and we must draw on the whole of the community. No one can tell in what garden the flower of genius will suddenly blossom. It is true that there are very few men and women in any generation who can make discoveries. We must see to it that we get an adequate supply and we must see to it that there are adequate rewards to the scientific research worker and the teacher. We are very alive to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly about the future of these young 309 people who will come into industry after refresher courses at the university, but we must also see to it that we must not overstock the market by providing more scientific workers than can be absorbed, and it is for that reason that we are looking at both supply and demand.
The point has been raised of adequate payment for the scientific worker. I think the reward has been insufficient in many cases hitherto. The whole question of the relation of the payment made to scientists in Government employ in relation to other Government employment of similar status is now being carefully inquired into and already steps have been taken to raise the remuneration of the heads of research institutions. There were certain points where there was obvious disparity between the scientific worker and his fellow on the administrative side.
Mr. Galkteher (Fife, West)
Give them all their increase and then look into it.
§ Mr. Attlee
When the hon. Member becomes Lord President of the Council, perhaps he will look into it and see which is the best way. It is very important that we should not think that science is something that can be put away in one place and kept out of other Government offices. It has been suggested that we should have a Ministry of Science. I think that would be a great mistake. Once you have that, other administrators would say, "This is a scientific thing. It belongs to the other Department." What you want is to see that there are persons in all Departments who are trained in the scientific method and appreciate what it means. It is also right that, while you have certain centralised institutions, you should have special research going on in the various Departments. There is a great deal of research going on both in connection with war and also with post-war problems. A great deal is being done by the Ministry of Works and Buildings in regard to materials of all kinds. There is a great deal being done in agriculture. Many Members have referred to various agricultural problems, some directly connected with research and science others perhaps rather wider. I should like to refer to one piece of work which was initiated by the Development Commission, and that is post-war fisheries research, by a very strong committee presided over by the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Graham Kerr).
§ Mr. J. J. Davidson (Glasgow, Maryhill)
Is that the committee which decided that fish six inches long could be sold but if it was only 5¾ inches it should be thrown away?
§ Mr. Attlee
I could not answer on technicalities like that. I was glad to hear hon. Members who spoke for agricultural suggest that, if we are to have proper agricultural research, the agricultural industry should make an adequate contribution. There again the same thing applies, that they will value it more if they contribute. I think, broadly speaking, if the agricultural industry gives enough to research they will sufficiently value the results of research. The same applies to the mining industry, in which certainly much more might have been done. I think the strictures of the hon. and gallant Member for Ripon (Major York) with regard to the new regional research organisation were perhaps directed rather to the past than to the present.
§ Mr. Attlee
Of course there has been a general policy. There is sometimes a tendency in the mind of people to narrow science down to mean the natural sciences, but it is capable of application in other directions. I should like to draw attention to a considerable improvement in the machinery of government that has taken place during the war, and that is the creation of a Central Statistical Section and a central Economic Section. These were set up in order that we might ensure the collection, through the different parts of the Government machine, of the data necessary for determining policy and to survey systematically the underlying economic causes, trends and effects. It might seem surprising that we have not had that organisation before. It is a piece of permanent machinery. We must see to it that, in the machinery of Government as well as other things, we utilise to the full the valuable lessons that we have learned in the war.
§ Mr. Gallacher
Will it be possible to decide that we can get rid of some of these Tories on the other side?
§ Mr. Attlee
I think the hon. Member makes the mistake of imagining that statistics are an aim to be pursued. They are an instrument to be used. They are an instrument for discovering the results of actions and the likelihood of where future actions will lead. Generally speaking, I should like to assure the hon. Member who moved the Amendment and those who have spoken that there is no question that the Government are fully seized of the need for proper expenditure of money and time on research; both technical and in the universities. I cannot come down with many millions—that is not my function—but hon. Members will find reflected in the figures of the university grants a steady increase, and it is quite obvious that it would be rather a futile thing to be passing a great Education Bill through the House and to neglect the universities at the top. I regard the Education Bill as an essential means of getting the nation scientifically minded. My view of this is that you have three parties. There is the Government and there is industry, and you also have the general public. I am grateful to my hon. Friends of the Parliamentary Scientific Committee for the work they are doing.
This kind of work will not endure unless public opinion is behind it. There is sometimes a readiness to support things with money in war and to have a cold fit of repentance after the war. I hope that the work which is now being done will be sufficient to prevent that from happening. I therefore suggest to my hon. Friend that he has achieved his purpose in initiating this Debate, and that he will now withdraw his Amendment and allow us to get Mr. Speaker out of the Chair.
§ Sir Granville Gibson
This is a unique occasion, inasmuch as it is, I believe, the first time that a full day's Debate has been devoted to the subject of research and scientific knowledge. I am very gratified personally that I was able to put this Amendment on the Paper. The Debate has ranged widely. In view of what has been, to me at least, the exceedingly interesting and very satisfactory reply, to which we have just listened, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.312
§ Supply accordingly considered in Committee.
§ [Mr. CHARLES WILLIAMS in the Chair]