§ Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £21,098,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the expense of scientific services, including a grant in aid to the National Institute of Oceanography, and a subscription to the International Hydro-graphic Bureau, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1962.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Wingfield Digby
I wish to raise two short points on these Votes. First, under Subheads A and B, the Royal Greenwich Observatory. I wonder if we could be told a little about the move from Greenwich to Herstmonceux, whether it has been completed and how successful it has been. It is known that there have been some delays, but 1259 I also believe that observation at Herstmonceux is very good and that this is regarded as a satisfactory move. However, I have seen very little in the newspapers on this subject.
Secondly, I wish to ask about the National Institute of Oceanography which, I believe, does very important work. When we remember that 70 per cent. of the earth's surface is covered by sea we realise that our knowledge of what goes on in the oceans is very limited and that this Institute serves a useful purpose. I am glad that the Admiralty has been able to get permission from the Treasury to rebuild "Discovery II". While that ship has done excellent work, it is not one of the most modern vessels. It is excellent that money is to be found to replace her. We are given a little information about this, but I hope the Civil Lord will tell us more about it. I hope he will be able to tell us that when the replacement is made it will be a really up-to-date vessel and not skimped.
I should also like an assurance that there will be money to operate the vessel. I think I am right in saying that in the case of "Discovery II" the Institute has had difficulty in commissioning her for more than a comparatively few months at sea. If it is to carry on this very important research work into the oceans, which it is equipped to do, it needs to commission the vessel for very much more than has been the case in the past. The Institute, to a certain extent, has had to look for contributions from the Commonwealth as well as from the Treasury. I do not think anyone would dispute that the resources have been somewhat limited. I should be grateful if my hon. Friend can tell the Committee something about this.
§ 6.43 p.m.
§ Mr. B. T. Parkin (Paddington, North)
I wish to ask the Civil Lord a few questions about the administration of the observatory at the Cape of Good Hope.
A little time ago, following the shameful episode when British sailors were put ashore from H.M.S. Victorious "on the grounds that the colour of their skins might offend Dr. Verwoerd, I asked the Minister of Defence some questions about the system of records kept in the Service Departments which 1260 enables ratings and other personnel to be identified according to the colour of their skin or their supposed racial admixture. That raised a rather important, indeed a profoundly important, question of records, because this was something which it had never been thought proper or desirable to do in any other Ministry. Neither, I think, have any of the Service Departments had trouble of this sort before.
The Minister replied that such records were kept as was necessary to help the commander of the establishment to reach certain decisions. In other words, it was implied that this was a matter for the commander of the vessel to decide. We were allowed to presume that he merely said tactfully that certain faces would not fit. That may be the policy as handed down, but it does not quite answer the question about records at headquarters. It would seem, if we are asked to vote this money for the maintenance of the observatory, that there must be some headquarter's record of the personnel there. Therefore, I wish to put again to the Civil Lord my question as to what is the basis of this classification. No one would admit that any racial classification is possible since there could not possibly be any question of inquiry—at least I hope not—into people's ancestry. How is it possible to keep records at headquarters which enable such establishments to be maintained without offending Dr. Verwoerd or any Government in any other part of the world who might have prejudices about certain facial characteristics?
I suppose that in this case the records and the administration must cover Service personnel and civilian personnel. I wonder if the Admiralty lays down any conditions in the appointment of scientists, observers, meteorologists, astronomers and so on at this observatory. I wonder whether there creeps into advertisements the phrase, "Sorry, no colour", or something of that kind, or how it is managed to avoid offending Dr. Verwoerd? Could the answer be—and this would be the most cheerful news we have had—that this has gone on happily without it being found necessary to eject people because they did not look as the hon. Gentleman himself looks when he comes back from a skiing holiday and no such problem has arisen?
1261 I am sure the Navy has the same sort of experience in these matters as the other Services. I am sure that hon. and gallant Members on either side of the Committee who have served in the Min, would not like this matter treated flippantly, as if it were only a political matter. From our recollections of Service life we know that this sort of thing does not arise when we are members of a team working in danger. I remember the case of a young engineer whom I taught at school and who came from the West Indies. He had a face about the colour of the Dispatch Box, or a little darker. He became the captain of a bomber and his team went through a couple of tours.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member, but something to do with personnel in a bomber has nothing whatever to do with this Vote.
§ Mr. Parkin
I am sorry about that, Sir William. I had hoped it had because I hoped that the feeling that not only had we no colour bar but simply did not notice these differences would have been so well established in the Services that it would demand a major effort of office organisation to comply with the conditions necessary to make the sort of classification which would enable people to be ejected from Her Majesty's ships or Her Majesty's observatory at the Cape of Good Hope. I am asking the Civil Lord to give all the details he can about the administration of the observatory and necessary assurances about it.
§ 6.47 p.m.
§ Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett
I hope the Civil Lord will not waste one penny in keeping additional records such as have been mentioned by the hon. Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin).
On this Vote I wish to join my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, West (Mr. Wingfield Digby) in congratulating the Civil Lord on the extra grant to the National Institute for Oceanography. I agree with my hon. Friend that the case for spending more money on research into what goes on in the deep seas is well worth while. If this country were to spend a fraction of the money on this kind of research which the Americans and the Russians put into space research 1262 we should very likely find that we had more useful dividends with good results.
I am, however, a little disturbed about this Vote having risen by over £1,700,000. I know that it is always considered almost irreverent to criticise anything described as research and development, but with some experience of these matters I know that a great deal of what passes for research and development frequently has very little connection with research and development in actual fact. The big fee in this Vote is to be found on page 64 under Subheads N and 0 and the heading "Scientific Research and Experiment". I see that the salaries and wages of those working on this task have gone up by nearly £660,000 and that the amount spent on equipment has gone up over £1 million. These two items account almost entirely for the increase in the Vote.
During our earlier debates on naval affairs, the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) said more than once that one of the reasons for the high cost of the Navy as a whole and the aggregate of these Votes was that the Navy was made up of a little of everything. I think it would be more accurate to say that the Navy since the war has developed into what, in effect, is an experimental Navy. The fleet is largely made up of prototypes, and it is that fact which has tended ever since the war to go on swelling the research and development Vote. I feel that the time has come when we must pass out of the experimental phase and make up our minds what sort of Navy we want. We must be prepared to put, perhaps, not more money but as much money into the teeth—the end product—and to economise in the ancillaries of which this research and development is probably one.
As I have said, it is extremely unpopular to criticise research and development. I know that these Estimates must have been drawn up some months ago when, perhaps, the difficult financial position of the country today was not fully realised. I am sure that every hon. Member on this side of the Committee, as well as a good many hon. Members opposite, will agree that the paramount need at the moment is to try to reduce Government expenditure. The appeal which I make to the Civil 1263 Lord is to underspend this Vote. It is quite impossible to criticise it in detail because those responsible for drawing it up take every precaution to see that one does not know exactly where the money is going. I can only say to the Civil Lord that if he comes back in a year's time, not with a Supplementary Estimate but with a report that this Vote has been substantially underspent, he will have earned and deserved the gratitude of both sides of the Committee.
§ 6.52 p.m.
§ Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)
I support what has just been said by the hon. and gallant Member for Croydon, North-East (Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett) because it seems to me that there is every likelihood that there could be a saving, particularly if there were proper co-operation with our allies. It may be that there is and it may be that there is not, but I always have the fear that the people doing this research are doing it too much in the spirit of competition—of the Englishmen saying, "I am going to do something better than the Americans",—so that both spend an enormous amount of money and discover exactly the same thing. I hope that can be avoided, but I do not know how it can be. I wish that the Civil Lord would look into this, in a way which we cannot do in this Committee because we have not the information, to see what can be done.
§ 6.54 p.m.
§ Commander Kerans
I consider that this work is certainly worth while. The hydrographic work in our surveying ships, which goes on throughout the world year after year, gets very little publicity. The hydrographic survey fleet is a very silent service. It goes on year after year with very little publicity, but it is an excellent training ground for young officers and ratings who care to go into that branch of the Service. I hope that the Civil Lord will ensure that the recruiting officers know how youngsters can get into the surveying service.
As regards the chart depôts referred to on page 76, can the Civil Lord tell us if he has now decided to reduce the number of our chart depôts in the United Kingdom in order to save on the Vote and why we should not have a depôt 1264 centrally situated in the United Kingdom to supply all our services and thereby reduce the staff?
§ 6.56 p.m.
§ Mr. W. A. Wilkins (Bristol, South)
The Civil Lord must understand that there is a considerable amount of anxiety on both sides of the Committee about this Vote.
This is one of the most alarming Votes that we have to consider. Alarm is created by the rather substantial increases in almost every instance. There are only three instances in which there there is— a decrease—£700, £10,200 and £3,540. When we look at Vote 6, page 62, we see that for the Royal Greenwich Observatory alone there is an increased estimate of about £30,000.
§ Mr. Wilkins
I am referring to page 62—Royal Greenwich Observatory: Salaries, wages and allowances; astronomical equipment and contingencies. I hope that the Civil Lord will be able to tell us what is involved in the term, "and contingencies." It is stated immediately below that at the Observatory at the Cape of Good Hope there is to be an increase in salaries, wages and allowances, and equipment of about £15,000—£30,000 increase on Greenwich Observatory and £15,000 on the Observatory at the Cape of Good Hope.
Then we have the hydrographic department, where we see the only reduction. On page 64, we see an increase in salaries, wages and allowances alone for scientific research and experiment of £659,000. Under Subhead 0 there is an increase of £1,027,000, and the total increases are £l¾ million. The interesting thing is that it is almost the identical sum which the Minister of Health is trying to save by increased charges on dentures and spectacles. Yet no one raises any objection in this Committee. It could have gone by the board without comment unless hon. Members on this side had drawn attention to it. But let me say that the hon. and gallant Member for Croydon, North-East (Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett) also, scrutinises these accounts with very great care and often suggests ways and means for economies.
I do not think that the Committee should allow this Estimate to go through 1265 unless justifiable evidence is given to us of the need for the amazing increase. I hope that the Civil Lord is fully prepared to tell us what is responsible for the £1,027.000 increase under Subhead O, on page 64—equipment, materials, etc. for research establishments, contract work on research and miscellaneous research expenses. It is a terrific increase at a time when the Government are cheeseparing and mean in the way in which they are dealing with the human problems con- fronting the country. How this vast sum of money can appear in an Estimate with no one hardly batting an eyelid about it, passes my comprehension, but I hope that there is a good explanation for it.
§ 6.59 p.m.
§ Sir John Maitland (Horncastle)
We should not leave this Vote without paying tribute to the work of the Hydrographic Department which has done enormous service to the rest of the world by providing charts and sailing instructions and all the other amenities for safe navigation. It is a matter often forgotten. It is one of the great services which the Royal Navy has performed for the benefit of the world in general over the past years. It is, of course, also true that by being the greatest chart producers in the world we have a very large business. The Board of Admiralty is to that extent in the position of a board of directors. I cannot help feeling that more could be done to save the country money by the sale of charts and sailing instructions and other information.
I know that I must not talk about appropriations in aid, and I should never dream of doing so, Sir William. This is a slightly different matter, because they are really profits of a business. There is a table on page 85 which shows the rather small profits which have been made recently. They have varied but little. I should like my hon. Friend to assure us that the most is being made of this great international business which is doing so much good for the world. The figures seem to be fairly constant. Have the prices been put up? What have we done to make the very most of this great national asset?
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Paget
In that event, why have they to be serving sailors? I should have thought that this was really a business in which the experience of sailors is of tremendous value, and, as has been said already, it is extremely important to provide careers. This is surely the sort of department in which jobs might be available for retired officers of great experience. Why, in this branch, do we not civilianise?
The other branch where the same thing seems to apply is that dealt with under Subhead L, on page 78, the Weapons Department. Why do we want a captain, a commander, and five naval assistants to produce compasses? Here again, this seems to be a civilian occupation.
Finally, coming to the very last point made by the hon. Member for Horn-castle (Sir J. Maitland), it has always struck me—I say this against my interests as a consumer—that the charts, considering what they provide, are very cheap. I should have thought that this was one case where the market would stand a good deal more. I know that it is not strictly in order, but I make the suggestion.
§ 7.3 p.m.
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
By far the biggest subhead of this Vote is Subhead O, Equipment, Materials &c. for Research Establishments, Contract Work on Research and Miscellaneous Research Expenses. The total figure is £14,816,000, which is an increase on last year of £1,027,000. If hon. Members will refer to the last paragraph on page 63, the Explanatory Notes, they will see thatProvision is made under this Vote for stores to be obtained from the Ministry of Aviation and the War Office to the extent of £5,000 and £1,000 respectivelyand then we are referred to the note on page 99.
On page 99, we see that the Admiralty is purchasing from the Ministry of Aviation no less than £61,400,000 worth of goods, of which £5,000 occur under this Vote. I will try my best to confine myself to that rather than to the rest of the £61 million. 1267 I wonder what this is for. We are running into the danger—this was raised at Question Time today, and I think that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Croydon, North-East (Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett) raised the same point—of having so many different people indulging in various types of research that there is duplication and, as a result, the taxpayer is beginning to suffer unduly. I should be the first, if I possibly could be—if other people had not said it already—to assert that we must keep up to date with our research and development, but we have here a field which is becoming more and more complicated.
Moreover, every time we see the Estimates we find that there is a process called the bulk agreement adopted—I have referred to this on other Estimates, notably the Air Estimates—and there is a tendency for Government Departments more and more to bury the procedure by which the money is obtained and still more to bury what it is spent on.
I appreciate that in defence matters we have to have regard for security and that, obviously, secret projects must be kept secret for as long as possible. Indeed, I have always understood that secrecy should include not only the details, but the existence of the details. I do not ask my hon. Friend to tell us anything which would fall into that category. Nevertheless, we have in mind, on the one hand, the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough and the cost of that, and then, on the other, we are referred to the Ministry of Aviation here and we are being asked to consider this before the Estimates of the Ministry of Aviation have been published. I take strong exception to this. In my view, we are entitled, for that reason, to probe these matters a little more deeply than we have so far done.
When dealing with the Service Estimates now on these matters, all we can go on, as regards the Ministry of Aviation, is its last year's Estimates plus any Supplementary Estimates it may have published since then. We have no more, so we cannot see what bite it is making or what saving is being given to the Ministry of Aviation in relation to its total Vote this year. I wish simply to take this occasion to protest at the pro- 1268 cedure which is being followed. The more Governments spend, the more careful they ought to be in telling us how they are spending the money and why. In fact, precisely the opposite is happening. I deeply regret that so much time was wasted earlier this afternoon on points of order so that we have not time to go into these matters in far greater detail.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I hope that the hon. Member will not proceed further to discuss what happened on points of order. That subject is quite outside this Vote.
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
Having regard to the short time we now have, I do not wish unduly to probe these matters. I should like to have said a great deal more on the subject, had there been time, but I do not want to hold up the Army or Air Estimates, and that is why I sit down now.
§ 7.9 p.m.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
The remarks made by the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir Harry Legge-Bourke) go to the heart of the problem. We are discussing in this Committee specialised Estimates which ought to be carefully examined by hon. Members with specialist experience long before they come here in this form. There is an item of £21,098,000 for scientific services. There are 22 pages of highly specialised technical and scientific detail beyond the comprehension of anyone who does not devote special study to the matter. I submit that we are being involved in enormous public expenditures on vague projects described as scientific research.
I am all in favour of research, provided that it is in the national interest, but we must avoid duplication in our research activities. Not long ago, the Minister of Science was appointed. To what extent is he co-ordinating expenditure on the various services, especially the services in the Defence Estimates? Considering the length and extent of these Estimates, I think that the Committee is entitled to devote to them more of the probing and examination for which the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) used to call in the days of the Labour Government.
How much educated manpower is absorbed in the £21,098,000? Scientific education in Scotland is being starved.
1269 We cannot find scientific teachers for the lowest levels in our secondary schools. We face enormous difficulties in providing adequate scientific training at the levels where it should be.
I agree entirely with the idea of research, whether in the sea or in the sky. We should not co-operate only with our allies; we should co-operate with other nations, also. Why is it necessary for America, Russia and other countries to be developing their own specialised research services at enormous expense to their citizens? I should like a very careful probe into this to see whether the Minister for Science can co-ordinate the various research departments under the heads of various Ministries. How many civil Departments have this enormous sum of £21 million to play with for research? Compared with research into housing problems and hospital building, this is a gigantic sum.
We have heard much about inter-Service rivalry in the United States. We have heard how the Army fights the Air Force and how the Air Force fights the Navy. I suspect that something similar is going on in this country. We should set up a committee of hon. Gentlemen who are qualified to examine these matters to see if there is unnecessary duplication.
I am surprised that the Astronomer Royal receives such a small salary as £4,013. I do not contend that his salary should be substantially increased, but the Astronomer Royal is a very important scientific personality, with great knowledge. In this age he is very important to the national interest. How does his salary of £4,013 compare with the salaries of the chairman of the National Coal Board, the chairman of the British Transport Commission, the chairman of Guinness, or the chairman of I.C.I.? How does it compare with the salary of a big executive?
The Explanatory Notes to Vote 6 list a whole range of scientific activities, which seem to open out endless vistas of expenditure if the House of Commons does not exercise its right to scrutinise. For example, how does the Royal Greenwich Observatory co-ordinate its activities with, say, Jodrell Bank? Are there half-a-dozen different astronomical telescopes in the country all watching or trying to watch the latest Russian 1270 sputniks or the rockets going to Venus or the Moon? Is there unnecessary duplication? I suspect that there is. I am not sure that we should spend so much money on studying the stars when there is so much to be studied on earth.
Is there any co-ordination with the Minister of Aviation? The first paragraph of the Explanatory Notes, on page 67, uses these words:
other observations of an astronomical character are stellar photography, measurement of the distances of stars …Does it matter very much if we do not know the distance between Mars and Venus if we have not the money to solve the housing problem and if money is needed to such an extent that prescription charges are being increased? I do not care what the Americans or the Russians are doing.
The Estimates mention space research. I am more interested in the space which is required in my constituency for people who are living six or seven in a room. We seem to be involved in purely academic intellectual research which is largely irrelevant to the social problems of our times. When I think of the £21,098,000, this huge sum which is being invested in scientific research, I wonder whether it is not taking away the brains and equipment which are necessary for research in industry.
The country's future does not depend merely on having a strong Navy. Nobody has an idea what it will do in the next war. Our capacity to live as a nation depends upon our industry being adapted to modern needs. This immense sum is absolutely irrelevant to the problems facing the country today. I shall vote against this Vote also, as a protest against this big increase and this unexplained expenditure at a time when the Government are cutting down the social services, cutting down their expenditure on housing, and cutting their expenditure on the things which we know are practical needs today and spending it in a way for which there is no real explanation. No attempt has been made to justify these astronomical estimates.
§ 7.17 p.m.
§ Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing
I will start by considering the Vote as a whole and then deal with the various points which have been raised. The Vote as a whole has 1271 risen by £1.7 million. As the hon. Member for Bristol, South (Mr. Wilkins) and my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, North-East (Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett) said, the great majority of this is on Subheads "N" and "O". This may seem a large sum, but one must remember that it is only just over £21 million out of a total Navy Vote of £400 million. We are devoting 5 per cent. of the Navy Vote to research and development.
Considering it in that light, do hon. Members really think that we are overspending on research and development? The well-being of the Navy for the future, certainly for ten years' hence and possibly for even twenty years' hence, may depend on the amount of effort which we put into this Vote, and the weapons and the ships and everything else which come out of it must surely be of tremendous importance to the safety of this country and our vital interests overseas.
§ Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett
My hon. Friend said that the expenditure on research and development is 5 per cent. of the total Vote. Quite substantial sums in the other Votes are related to this Vote, although we cannot discuss them. The true figure spent on research and development must be a great deal more than £21 million.
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing
That is correct. The true figure is more than £21 million, because there is the Ministry of Aviation side which it is not in order to discuss. Besides the Vote we are discussing the Ministry of Aviation undertakes its own research and development. It develops and buys its own aircraft stores and aircraft and hands them over to us under a different Vote. I still think that we are right to spend a considerable effort on our research and development, and I should like to highlight those aspects of our programme which are drawing extra money in the coming year.
My hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, West (Mr. Wingfield Digby) asked about the progress being made in the reconstruction of Herstmonceux. The new 98-inch Isaac Newton telescope, now being erected, will not only be used by the Royal Greenwich Observatory but will also be available for general use by other astronomers in the United 1272 Kingdom. This is the largest telescope project which we have initiated in this country for many a long day. We recognise that it is expensive. In the long run, it will cost us £23,¾ million, of which half will come from Navy Votes and half from the Treasury.
It has been said quite correctly that Herstmonceux has proved a very good site for observation. Last year was one of the worst climatic years in memory, but we had useful observation on 207 nights. In the previous year there was useful observation on 260 nights.
Several hon. Members have drawn attention to the hydrographic side and, in particular, to oceanography and the importance of the new vessel to replace the "Discovery II". Here, again, we felt that it was essential for our undersea warfare research and development that we should at the same time undertake increased oceanographic research. This vessel will cost in all some £570,000 this year. Of this sum, £285,000 will come out of this Vote, and another £285,000 from the Development Fund which pays on behalf of others who will also gain from the ship's work.
The vessel's maximum range will be 15,000 miles, and it will have a cruising speed of between 9 and 10 knots. Its principal dimensions will be 260 feet, and it will have a loaded draught of 18 feet. Its construction will be right up to Lloyd's standards, and its layout will meet our latest scientific needs. It is planned to have a scientific plotting room at boat deck level; electronic, hydrographic, biological, chemical and general laboratories; a long-temperature laboratory, and an underwater instrument room with a trunk leading through the bottom of the ship.
These facts will show the Committee that we are modernising our methods of oceanographic research, and I am glad to have the Committee's endorsement of its importance. As chairman of the National Oceanographic Council I take special interest in its work. I have recently visited its headquarters and I endeavour to make sure that the work is proceeding as economically, efficiently and quickly as possible.
The hon. Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin) asked about a number of aspects of the Vote, and it would be very difficult for me to keep in order if I attempted to answer all of them.
1273 On the general policy point, I have nothing to add to what my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence said. The Observatory at the Cape of Good Hope is entirely manned by civilians, so there is no question of any colour bar or colour discrimination in respect of Service men. There are no uniformed staff there.
Two hon. Members asked about Subheads N and 0, so perhaps I might just deal with those. I recognise that there is a considerable increase in salaries, wages and allowances, but it will be noticed that our numbers have not gone up very materially. The increase in salaries is the result of keeping our scientific staff in step with scientific salaries outside, thus truly reflecting the demand for scientists occurring in all parts of industry and in the Government service as well. At the same time, on the wages side, we have had to make a slightly increased allowance as a result of the introduction on the industrial side of the 42-hour week, which adds to overtime payments and payments of that nature.
The emphasis in these subheads has been on undersea warfare, for example, at the Admiralty Underwater Weapons Establishment at Portland, and only to a lesser extent to surface warfare at, for instance, Surface Weapons Establishment at Portsdown. We have emphasised, and this fits in with the oceanographic side, the vital importance in a nuclear submarine era of underwater research, and this is reflected in an increase in staff and salaries.
I now turn to the increase shown under Subhead O. The biggest increase there was a sum in excess of £1 million on research and development contracts. This is not in the nuclear field—we are to spend about the same amount as last year on research and development of nuclear propulsion—but in the conventional field and, again, mainly on underwater warfare.
The right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) ——
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
I tried to draw the attention of my hon. Friend and of the Committee to the point in page 99 where we see a sum of £5,000 paid to the Ministry of Aviation. It appears to come under the bulk agreement arrangements. Does it mean a big delivery from the Ministry of Aviation in the last year—£5,000 worth of more 1274 aircraft or something, than the Department had before?
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing
I was coming to that point, but perhaps I might answer in; hon. Friend at once. The £5,000 is for the Ministry of Aviation. We do some work for the Ministry of Aviation on the compass side and call on that Ministry for certain stocks to enable us to do the work. The £5.000 is accounted for in that way.
The right hon. Member for West Bromwich asked about allied cooperation in research and development. This has been a little disappointing in the past—interdependence has not been quite so "inter" as had been hoped—but there are some very encouraging developments with our N.A.T.O. allies. We are pursuing that, because I think we would all agree that this is a way in which to save our scientific manpower and an amount of research and development effort directed into the various channels.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for The Hartlepools (Commander Kerans) asked about the chart depots, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Horncastle (Sir J. Maitland). It is true that we maintain six depots—at Portsmouth, Plymouth, Rosyth, Gibraltar, Singapore and Malta. There was another at Sheerness, but that was closed down about two years ago. Her Majesty's ships carry as many charts as can reasonably be maintained aboard, and when they move from one station to another it is generally necessary to exchange the sets of charts they carry for others. It is necessary to have three depots at home, near ships' bases, so that we can provide the best service for the fleet. At one time, we had a central chart depot, but that system broke down during the Munich crisis, because we could not deliver an entire set of charts as quickly as was necessary. That is why we have the added depots.
There is the question of whether we are charging the right price for our charts. We always have this matter under review. We feel that the Admiralty's reputation as chart makers to the world has not boo lightly earned. but we have to recognise that American competition in chart production is becoming intense, and we have to charge what the traffic will hear. If we charge 1275 very much more we may lose business to the American chart makers——
§ Mr. Dugdale
Are not American wages much higher than ours, and would it not therefore be easy for us to undersell them?
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing
They may be able to spread their overheads and thus gain business. However, we are endeavouring to achieve a return for the investment we have put into this field. In 1959 we produced 1.9 million charts, of which 1.2 million were sold to the general public. We are not slow to consider new types of chart. After consulting the yachting authorities we are at present trying to produce a miniature chart in colour that might be of use to small boat owners and users. I hope that that will be a popular line and will expand our sales. As has been said, our revenue from this source is at present £345,000.
The hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) asked about Subhead E, which deals with the number of naval assistants. I would answer that nineteen naval assistants are engaged in the maintenance of sailing directions, light lists, notices to mariners, and tide publications, and I think that the hon. and learned Gentleman will recognise that this work needs a background of some practical sea experience.
Of these 19 naval assistants, only 10 are on active service and 9 are retired on civil rates of pay. We are considering whether we can employ more retired officers or civilians in the place of active service officers. I announced that we were trying to increase the number of retired officers in this service, among others, during the debate on Admiralty Headquarters. We will certainly examine this aspect very carefully, and I am grateful to the hon. and learned Gentleman for his suggestion. The hon. and learned Member asked why the price of the Compass Division of the Weapons Department had gone up. I forget his exact point.
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing
I now recall the point. The reason was that we consider it necessary that these largely retired officers should be responsible overall for the in- 1276 stallation and testing of the compasses in ships. They should, therefore, have fairly up-to-date sea experience. They should be able to speak from practical experience. That is why the director is a retired captain. We must have people with practical and fairly recent sea experience if they are to have the confidence of the fleet in the testing and installation of these latest compasses and navigational instruments. I hope that my answer covers the points which have been raised.
§ Mr. Parkin
I asked a number of questions about the recruiting of personnel to the observatory at the Cape of Good Hope. I know that the subject is distasteful to the Civil Lord and I did not expect a full answer. What I had not expected, however, was that the hon. Gentleman would attempt to shelter behind the rules of order. He did not ask for a Ruling from the Chair, but he implied that he would be out of order if he replied to my questions about the advertisements and the method of enrolling.
It is true that the procedure for fixing the numbers and scales of salaries and allowances of civilian non-industrial staff is explained under Vote 12, Subhead A, and it is true that we are not able to discuss Vote 12. On the other hand, the Vote for the observatory is set out on page 68 of the Estimates and the Explanatory Note on page 69 contains the somewhat sinister sentence that
The rates for locally entered personnel are assessed in relation to local standards.I ask you to rule, Mr. Williams, that the Civil Lord would not have been out of Order had he chosen to answer my questions.
§ Question put and agreed to.
That a sum, not exceeding £21,098,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the expense of scientific services, including a grant in aid to the National Institute of Oceanography, and a subscription to the International Hydrographic Bureau, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1962.