29 JANUARY 1965, Page 14

Prophets Without Honour

SIR,—Public attention is now focused upon the critical controversy concerning the future of our aerospace industries. Employment of our gifted technologists and skilled craftsmen is again in jeopardy. That there is any doubt whatsoever as to the essential importance of maintaining a high pitch of technical activity which directly affects every aspect of our commercial and industrial develop-

ment is unfortunately significant in an era of high education and normally well-informed public opinion. In the perspective of the insatiable inter- national demand and active recruitment of British scientists, technologists and craftsmen, it is evident that they are not without honour--save in their own country. But it seems that these prophets of progress are without honour in a confused genera- tion; and their own country is without the profit made by their skills.

What Britain lacks today is the will to use the skill of our technologists and engineers, in aero- dynamics, electronics and mechanics. Lacking tech- nical projects that daily train and develop essential experience which extends practical knowledge to maintain vital competitive capability, we inevitably lose all technological impetus and drive. Hence, expedients that accentuate our financial maladies misguidedly continue to be used to cure what was the real cause and origin of our failing export markets. Our verbal gymnasts arc not talking the language of the twentieth century, which is why our younger men in the new skills look westward where the land is bright. Bright for development, bright for encouragement of invention, of scientific and technological enterprise. bright for a future of high accomplishment. So away they go in their expensively trained technical thousands; leaving us only the very heavy expense of their education and training. Merely a nation of shopkeepers, 'keeping shop' with less to sell and still less flowing into the till.