Late in 1919, when preparations were in hand to wind up the Ministry of Munitions, responsibilities for certain aspects of civil research and for the completion of certain technical publications in progress were taken over by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.
The Inventions Department of the Ministry of Munitions was established with Mr. (later Sir Ernest) Moir as controller, on 6 August, 1915, to deal with the large number of proposals which were received by the Ministry of Munitions from outside inventors. In November 1915 when responsibility for design and invention was passed on from the War Office Inventions Branch to the Ministry of Munitions, the Inventions Department became responsible for accepting, testing and developing inventions relating to all War Office Stores as well as those stores supplied by the Ministry of Munitions
The Explosives Supply Department was formed in June, 1915 with Lord Moulton as Director General. The department became responsible for the supervision of all contracts for high explosives and their ingredients, the organisation of state manufacture through national factories, storeholding, accounting and transit arrangements relating to these supplies.
The Nitrogen Products Committee was appointed in June, 1916, with the sanction of David Lloyd George, then Minister of Munitions, as a Committee of the Advisory Panel of the Munitions Inventions Department to make a detailed examination of the nitrogen problem in its relation to the military, agricultural and industrial requirements of the United Kingdom and other parts of the British Empire.
John Allen Harker was born 23 January 1870 at Alston, Cumberland. He was Director of Research, Ministry of Munitions 1916-1921 (formerly Chief Assistant at the National Physical Laboratory, Teddington). He was responsible during the First World War for the organisation of the work of the Nitrogen Products Committee of the Ministry of Munitions and was Director of the Research Laboratories set up to study modern nitrogen fixation processes. He was also a member of a large number of Government committees on scientific problems including the Oxygen Committee and the Gas Cylinders Committee of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. He died 10 October 1923.
The Chemical Inventions Committee was appointed in August, 1915, as a committee of the Advisory Panel of the Munitions Inventions Department. In September, 1915, a sub-committee consisting of the chairman and one other member of the main committee was formed to report on all cases dealing with chemical inventions before they were submitted to the main committee. Inventions which had been reported for further consideration by the sub-committee were considered by the committee. Inventions which had been unfavourably reported on by the sub-committee were submitted to each meeting of the main committee and the report of the sub-committee was confirmed. In March 1918 Dr. Harker, then Director General of Chemical Research was appointed a member of the Chemical Inventions Committee.
In 1918, the Controller of the Munitions Inventions Department decided to set up a committee to deal with the question of unutilised chemical waste products. The committee was created with the same members as that of the Chemical Inventions Committee. The duties of the Chemical Waste Products Committee were to carry out investigations with a view to the utilisation of chemical waste products throughout the country and, in addition, to carry out research on remits from the National Salvage and other government departments requiring research on waste products.