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[News and Views]

Nature volume 128, pages 215220 (08 August 1931) | Download Citation



No one will deny that Great Britain, and indeed the whole world, is passing through a phase of acute economic and industrial depression. We have referred to this repeatedly in our columns and urged the importance of research in providing new outlets for trade, new methods and new materials. Research in all departments of life must at all costs go on, and we had hoped that the days were gone when the so-called unproductive research department was the first to go when economy was called for. Yet “research” and “education” are prominent among the recommendations submitted by the Committee on National Expenditure (Cmd. 3920. London: H.M. Stationery Office. 4s. net). Apparently research is still regarded as an expensive luxury. The report emphasises the point raised in our leading article that public opinion is not yet educated to the value of the scientific worker and of scientific method to the community. The Committee on National Expenditure consisted of Sir George Ernest May (chairman), Mr. P. Ashley Cooper, Sir Mark Webster Jenkinson, Mr. Charles Latham, Lord Plender, Mr. Arthur Pugh, and Sir Thomas Royden—the omission of any person of scientific eminence will be noted—and in its terms of reference it was charged to make recommendations for “effecting forthwith all possible reductions in the national expenditure on Supply Services”. Among the recommendations are the abolition of the Empire Marketing Board, abandonment of the new programme of research in civil aircraft, reduction by 12½ per cent of expenditure on research and technical development for defence, wholesale reduction at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, including 50 per cent reduction of grants for agricultural education and limitation of grants for research, and a quarter of a million reduction in the grant to universities. We would urge the Cabinet committee which is to examine these proposals to consider very gravely the proposed restriction of research which, in the long view, can only impede the return of prosperity.

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