Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Commerce – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd January 1959.
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will investigate the new wave of redundancy and short-time working in Coventry's machine tool factories; and what steps he is taking to arrest the decline in this industry.
No, Sir. The Machine Tool Advisory Council keeps me in close touch with the situation in the industry. Orders for machine tools depend on the level of investment at home and abroad.
Is it not precisely the point that that very serious decline in this key industry flows directly from the Government's restrictionist policy? In addition, is it not a very serious matter that, at a time when the imports of machine tools from abroad are running at a level of about £21 million per annum—much of which could be manufactured by our own domestic manufacturers—the machine tool workers of Coventry are being sacked? Will not the Minister invite the industry to put its own house in order?
The level of orders for machine tools also depends very much upon the state of world trade and orders for exports. The hon. Member was referring to 1957, when the imports were £20 million. They were only £16 million in 1958. The general trade in machine tools has declined since last year, but we are hopeful that it will recover.