Zuckerman Archive: Advisory Council on Scientific Policy

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

SZ/ACSP/2 Documents, 1947-1964, contains 18 files which consist chiefly of numbered papers, but includes: drafts of some of the papers, drafts and published texts of annual reports and other Council reports; press-cuttings; and correspondence, reports and papers from a variety of sources, including US sources, on topics under consideration by the Council. In some instances the quantity of un-numbered papers and correspondence is significant, for example in SZ/ACSP/2/4 (relating to the drafting of the third annual report); in SZ/ACSP/2/6 and SZ/ACSP/2/7 (relating to the economy and investment by companies in research and development, on which the Council commissioned a report); and in SZ/ACSP/2/13 (relating to the rate burden on charities, especially learned societies). Sub-file SZ/ACSP/2/8/1 includes a copy of the official report on the East Coast floods of 1953.

SZ/ACSP/3 Correspondence, 1947-1964, contains 143 files, arrranged aplphabetically. The contents deal chiefly with the business of the ACSP's Committee on Scientific Manpower, and include personal experiences of difficulty in finding appropriate employment by qualified scientists or engineers reported by J.R.Wilson and C. Hoyle. Other topics which feature are: the ACSP Biology Committee; investment by industry in research and development (R&D); the Brain Drain; the future of the Seaweed Research Station and the Council for the Promotion of Field Studies (Field Studies Council); support for scientific research overseas, especially in Africa, and the establishment of a centre or institute for tropical agriculture; world population growth and demographic studies of the Caribbean region; space research, astronomy and the construction of a southern hemisphere observatory; the placing of contracts with UK universities by US defence agencies; investigations into toxic substances in food and consumer goods; the impact of the launch of Sputnik and the establishment of the NATO Science Committee; the tax and rate burden on learned societies; fisheries research and the licensing of vivisection (Sir James Gray); medical studies of Japanese air-raid victims (Alexander King); Zuckerman's problems with the membership of the Zoological Society of London (Alan Lennox-Boyd); water conservation (G.J. Spence); the 1947 white paper on the scientific civil service (R.R. Welch); electricity supply and peak loading (Sir Alfred Egerton); the need for research on non-flammable and fire-resistant clothing (Dr Leonard Colebrook); the future of the Fuel Research Station (Lord Salisbury); the patenting of inventions by universities (Professor John Squire); the aircraft industry and future of the College of Aeronautics, Cranfield (Sir Thomas Padmore); the industrial demand for mineral resources (W.A. Macfarlane); and the future of the Nature Conservancy (C.H. Waddington). The early correspondence with J.D. Bernal is concerned with the role of science in tackling the economic crisis of the immediate post-war period (see also Series SZ/BAAS), while R.J. Bailey gives his views on the post-war reconstruction of Europe and its relation to military strategy. Correspondence with Max Nicholson discusses the remit of the Committee on Industrial Productivity (CIP) and includes a 1950 report on labour relations in the London Docks by R.P. Lynton and S.D.M. King. I. Montgomery's file includes references to the British Bombing Survey (BBSU) report on German war production, and to the energy consumed in house-building. Geoffrey de Freitas is interested in weather control and rain-making, while Keith Joseph's correspondence touches on the views of the One Nation group on the impact of disarmament on R&D in the UK, the Rucker Plan, and the Clean Air Act. The Ministry of Defence file consists of 20 reports on Soviet scientific manpower and science education. Sir Claude Gibb writes of the export problems faced by British industry as a result of government policy, and enquires about treatment for diabetes-related blindness. Eric Weiss, whose company was a contractor to several government departments, seeks a meeting with Zuckerman for some unspecified purpose that is connected with Zuckerman's research for the Ministry of Supply. Zuckerman's extensive correspondence with Sir Henry Tizard, while primarily concerned with ACSP business, also covers operational research in World War II, political and psychological warfare, seasonal processes in mammals, and the post-war reconstruction of the French railway system. In the even larger collection of correspondence with Sir Alexander Todd are references to the cost of German medical and scientific journals, the preparation of mammalian skeletons for laboratory work, and a spoof application of anonymous authorship for a research grant to study Alcoholism among Naval Personnel.

Correspondents not individually listed above include: J.F. Baker, Cambridge University Dept of Engineering; Dr Joseph W. Barker, President of the Research Corporation, New York; Sir Alan Barlow; J.D.K. Beighton; General R.F.K. Belcham, Tube Investments Ltd; G.F. Bell; Professor T.A. Bennet-Clark, King's College London Dept of Botany; Sir George Beresford-Stoke, Royal Anthropological Institute; Aneurin Bevan, MP; Lord Bilsland; Dr Leslie Brent, University College London (UCL) Dept of Zoology; Martin Brunt, Directorate of Overseas Surveys; R.E. Galley, Lord President's Office; Hugh Gardner, Ministry of Agriculture; Professor E. Giffen, Queen Mary College Dept of Civil and Mechanical Engineering; J.S.L. Gilmour, Cambridge Botanic Garden; J.M. Green, HM Treasury; H. Guitfreund; Professor J.M. Mackintosh; Harold Macmillan, MP; Professor Charles Madge, Birmingham University; Dr A.J. Manners; Mrs M. Margolouth; Dr L. Harrison Matthews, ZSL; Sir Harry Melville, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR); Sir Thomas Merton; Professor Neville Mott, Bristol University; P.G. Myers, Lord President's Office; F.B. Roberts, Editor of Engineering; Professor Rucker, Bavarian Ministry for Education and Culture; and Dr Donald Stewart.

SZ/ACSP/4 Committee on Research and Productivity, 1947, contains three files. The Committee, of which Zuckerman was a member, was chaired by Sir Claude Gibb and was required to report to the Advisory Council of [sic] Scientific Policy regarding the directions in which a scientific approach is most likely to promote an increase in the national productivity. On 18 December 1947 its functions were transferred to a new body, independent of the ACSP, the Committee on Industrial Productivity (see SZ/CIP). A working party was established to initiate enquiries, study and report on documents relevant to the Committee's remit, and make recommendations; it produced reports on the effects of colour and lighting, and nutrition, on productivity. A sub-committee set up to study technical information services evolved in 1950 into a separate Scientific Library and Technical Information Committee chaired by Max Nicholson, the recommendations of which led to the establishment of a National Lending Library for Science and Technology (see the ACSP Annual Report for 1950-1951, Cmd. 8299).

File SZ/ACSP/4/3 contains agenda and minutes and three Documents: Working Party papers 8, 16, and 33, being respectively papers submitted by DSIR, the Director of the Royal Ordnance Filling Factories, and the National Coal Board. The work of the Committee and its recommendations are described on pp. 9-12 of the first Annual Report of the ACSP, July 1948, Cmd 7465.

SZ/ACSP/6 Committee on Toxic Substances in Consumer Goods (Committee on Consumer Standards), 1949-1950, contains three files. The Committee was chaired by Solly Zuckerman and its terms of reference were to examine existing arrangements for regulating ingredients or processes potentially injurious to health used in the preparation of foods, beverages, drugs, cosmetics, insecticides and other substances intended for use in contact with the human body; and if desirable, to make recommendations for the better control of these substances and processes. The Committee reported its findings and recommendations in 1950. One outcome was the establishment by the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries of a working party to investigate the safety of workers engaged in the agricultural use of toxic substances which was also chaired by Zuckerman. The work of the Committee and its recommendations are described in the Third and Fourth Annual Reports of the ACSP, Cmd 7992 (July 1950), and Cmd 8299 (July 1951).

File SZ/ACSP/6/4 is a slim file of correspondence and papers relating to a conference convened by the Medical Research Council on 10 June 1954 in the light of the recommendation of the Committee that an information and research service should be set up as a measure to protect the public against the risk of toxic substances being inadvertently included in consumer goods [Letter, R.H.L. Cohen, MRC, to Solly Zuckerman, 9 April 1954]. In the interim between the Committee making its recommendations, and the convening of the MRC Conference, the MRC's Food Adulterants and Toxicology Committees had been engaged on the difficult problem of trying to design standard methods for the assessment of toxicity and it was concluded that sufficient progress has now been made to enable at least tentative proposals to be put forward [op. cit.]. The file contains the minutes of the Conference, which was chaired by Sir Harold Himsworth, and which Zuckerman attended.

SZ/ACSP/7 Committee on Foreign Seaweed, 1950, contains two files. The Committee was set up under the chairmanship of Sir Edward Salisbury in response to a proposal made to the ACSP by the Director of the Scottish Seaweed Research Association that the seaweed Macrocystis be introduced into British waters. Macrocystis, it was argued, could be harvested more easily and economically than the native species Laminaria. The Committee advised against such a move, even on an experimental basis (see the Third Annual Report of the ACSP, pp. 12-13).

SZ/ACSP/8 Committee on Scientific Manpower, 1950-1964, contains three files. The Committee on Scientific Manpower was established by the ACSP in December 1950 under Solly Zuckerman's chairmanship to study the future needs of scientific and technological man-power for employment both at home and abroad and to report to the Council from time to time. While the ACSP's annual reports routinely covered scientific manpower issues, and those for 1951-1952 and 1960-1961 were given over entirely to its reports, from 1955 the Committee also separately published reports on specific topics: the recruitment of scientists and engineers by the engineering industry (1955); the number and distribution of scientists and engineers currently employed in Great Britain and the likely trend in future demand (1956); technical education (1956); a review of current numbers and distribution of scientists and engineers (1959); the long-term demand for scientific manpower (1961); and a survey of scientific and technological manpower in Great Britain in 1962 (1963).

The numbered committee papers in this sub-series are augmented by press-cuttings and memoranda, reports, and pamphlets on related topics. The Committee commissioned investigations and statistical surveys in the course of its business, to which the much of the correspondence in Sub-series SZ/ACSP/2 relates. As well as investigating the numbers of scientists and engineers in employment, these investigations looked at: scientific, mathematical and technical education from secondary school to higher degree level; the supply of teachers of science, mathematics and technical subjects; the case for university expansion and the development of institutions for higher technological education; and the Brain Drain of scientists and engineers to North America. Comparative studies paid particular attention to the situation in the United States and the Soviet Union but also noted that in other countries.

A bound set of the Committee's reports, 1955-1963, incorporating a copy of the Barlow Committee's report Scientific Man-power, 1946, and of the Fifth Annual Report of the ACSP, May 1952 (Cmd 8561), is available for consultation in the Archive.

The Technical Sub-Committee (SZ/ACSP/8/3) was established in February 1956 and chaired by C.T. Saunders of the Central Statistical Office. Its task was to produce estimates of the long-term demand for science and engineering graduates and report on other statistical questions, including international comparisons and the employment of those leaving school or university. In 1960 the Sub-committee was re-constituted as the ACSP Statistics Committee under the chairmanship of Sir Harry Campion, Director of the Central Statistical Office.

SZ/ACSP/9 Committee on Biology and Allied Sciences, 1951-56, contains three files. The Committee was established in November 1950 under Solly Zuckerman's chairmanship to examine the recommendations of the Royal Society Empire Scientific Conference, 1946, and to advise on the need for the expansion of facilities for research, in the biological and allied sciences, other than medicine. Many of the papers are concerned with education in the biological sciences, and the demand for, and supply of, qualified personnel, but they also touch on the role of the Nature Conservancy and ecological studies generally, chemical microbiology and the production of novel foodstuffs, and Dr Norman (Bill) Pirie's work on leaf protein. The contents of sub-files SZ/ACSP/9/2/2 and SZ/ACSP/9/2/3, which include some un-numbered papers and correspondence, are almost entirely given over to an investigation into the value of the work of the Institute of Seaweed Research and its future.

SZ/ACSP/9/3 Working Party on a Centre for Tropical Agriculture 1955-56, contains two sub-files, the contents of which are complementary to those in Series SZ/ORC. The Working Party was chaired by Solly Zuckerman and had its origins in an informal meeting in May 1954 between Zuckerman, Alexander Geddes, Professor J.F.V. Phillips, Sir Geoffrey Clay, and Sir Alexander Todd at which the case for establishing in London a post-graduate research centre for tropical agriculture was considered. The task of the Working Party was to examine the idea in detail. It reported in August 1956, recommending that such an institute, if established, should not be a government organisation (see the ACSP's Annual Report for 1955-1956, Cmnd 11, pp. 7-8).

SZ/ACSP/10 Committee on Fuel Research Organisation, 1951, contains two sub-files. The Committee was established under the chairmanship of Sir David Brunt in May 1951 to advise as to whether or not the Ministry of Fuel and Power should take over the responsibilities of the DSIR for the Fuel Research Station and the financial and administrative support of the Electrical, British Coal Utilisation, Coal Tar, and Coke Research Associations, and the Gas Research Board. SZ was a member of the Committee. The Committee recommended transferring the Fuel Research Station to the Ministry and retaining DSIR's link with the research associations.

SZ/ACSP/11 Committee on Overseas Scientific Relations, 1957-1962, contains three sub-files. The ACSPl had had a Committee on Overseas Scientific Relations since 1949 that had focussed on the work of scientific attachs in British embassies and missions abroad. It was re-constituted in November 1957 under the chairmanship of Sir Alexander Todd, in the light of an agreement made between the Prime Minister (Harold Macmillan) and President Eisenhower during the visit of the former to Washington in October 1957. Solly Zuckerman was a member of the new Committee. Its task was to consider and advise on questions of UK government policy on matters of overseas scientific relations, with particular attention being paid to Anglo-US co-operation via such organisations as the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). The contents of the file also refer to overseas scientific research in Africa, collaboration in scientific research by Baghdad Pact members, the scientific attach service, and the establishment of the Overseas Research Council.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Advisory Council on Scientific Policy (ACSP) was established in January 1947 by the Lord President of the Council, Herbert Morrison, in the light of recommendations made in the report of the Committee on Future Scientific Policy - the Barlow Committee. The ACSP assumed the mantle of the Scientific Advisory Council to the War Cabinet in respect of civil science, with responsibility for defence research falling to its twin, the Defence Research Policy Committee (DRPC). Specifically the remit of the ACSP was to advise the Lord President of the Council in the exercise of his responsibility for the formulation and execution of Government science policy. Sir Henry Tizard chaired both the ACSP and DRPC from 1947 until 1952. Solly Zuckerman, who had played a significant part in its creation, was a founder member of the ACSP and served as its Deputy Chairman, first under Tizard and then under his successor, Sir Alexander Todd (Later Lord Todd). Zuckerman also chaired some of the ACSP's committees, notably the Committee on Scientific Manpower.

In some years the Council's Annual Report, usually published in July as a Command Paper, was given over to a single topic. The 1951-1952 and 1960-1961 reports (Cmd. 856 and Cmnd 1592) consisted of reports of the Committee on Scientific Manpower, while for 1952-1953 (Sixth Report, Cmd 8874) the subject was the exploitation of science by industry.

An indexed bound volume of the ACSP's annual reports, incorporating a copy of the Barlow Committee's report Scientific Man-power, HMSO, 1946 Cmd 6824, is available for consultation in the Archives Department.


Contains 11 sub-series

  • SZ/ACSP/1 Agenda, Minutes and Chairman's Briefs, 1947-1964
  • SZ/ACSP/2 Documents, 1947-1964
  • SZ/ACSP/3 Correspondence, 1947-1964
  • SZ/ACSP/4 Committee on Research and Productivity, 1947
  • SZ/ACSP/5 Committee on Radioactive Substances, 1947
  • SZ/ACSP/6 Committee on Toxic Substances in Consumer Goods (Committee on Consumer Standards), 1949-1950
  • SZ/ACSP/7 Committee on Foreign Seaweed, 1950
  • SZ/ACSP/8 Committee on Scientific Manpower, 1950-1964
  • SZ/ACSP/9 Committee on Biology and Allied Sciences, 1951-56
  • SZ/ACSP/10 Committee on Fuel Research Organisation, 1951
  • SZ/ACSP/11 Committee on Overseas Scientific Relations, 1957-1962

Conditions Governing Access

Please refer to the fonds-level description for GB 1187 SZ.



Other Finding Aids

Typescript lists of the contents of the files and sub-files in this series are available for consultation in the Archives Department.

This series is described to sub-series level in the online catalogue of the Zuckerman Archive and in the general guide to the Zuckerman Archive, Deirdre Sharp: The Zuckerman Archive: a General Guide, University of East Anglia, 2000 , which is available in print and online on the Internet.

Conditions Governing Use

Please refer to the fonds-level description for GB 1187 SZ.

Related Material

The history of the ACSP is to be found in Philip Gummett: Scientists in Whitehall, Manchester University Press, 1980 .