Machine Tool Industry

Oral Answers to Questions — Technology – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 2nd March 1965.

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Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester 12:00 am, 2nd March 1965

asked the Minister of Technology what action he intends taking to improve the performance of the machine tool industry.

Photo of Mr Quintin Hogg Mr Quintin Hogg , St Marylebone

asked the Minister of Technology whether he will make a statement on his policy towards the machine tool industry; and what aid he proposes to give to it through his Department.

Photo of Sir David Price Sir David Price , Eastleigh

asked the Minister of Technology by what methods he intends to sponsor technological advance in the machine tool industry.

Photo of Mr Arthur Newens Mr Arthur Newens , Epping

asked the Minister of Technology what steps he is taking, by Government action, to improve the performance of the machine tool industry.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , West Lothian

asked the Minister of Technology what he is doing to improve the performance of the British machine tool industry.

Photo of Mr Robert Sheldon Mr Robert Sheldon , Ashton-under-Lyne

asked the Minister of Technology what consideration he has given to the problems of the machine tool industry; and what action he proposes to take.

Photo of Mr Frank Cousins Mr Frank Cousins , Nuneaton

My Department is urgently carrying out a study of the machine tool industry and I hope to make a statement shortly.

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

Will the right hon. Gentleman now agree that the fact that the machine tool industry increased its exports in December by 15 per cent. and in January by 30 per cent. is an outstanding record on which he as Minister should congratulate it?

Photo of Mr Frank Cousins Mr Frank Cousins , Nuneaton

I shall be seeing representatives of the machine tool industry within the next few days, subject to my engagements here. I shall convey to them the views which we hold on the industry's performance during the last few months. The criticism was that there had been a declining performance over a number of years while the figures for the imports of machine tools rose considerably between 1963 and 1964. In 1963, the import figures were £26·2 million and in 1964 they were £33·2 million. This is a difference with which I am trying to get the machine tool industry to deal.

Photo of Mr Robert Sheldon Mr Robert Sheldon , Ashton-under-Lyne

I welcome the energy with which my right hon. Friend is tackling this crucial problem. Will he not agree that one of the very important aspects is the way in which the latest types of machine tools are introduced into industry generally? Will he consult the Chancellor of the Exchequer to see whether some financial incentives might be suggested for dealing with this problem?

Photo of Mr Frank Cousins Mr Frank Cousins , Nuneaton

A whole range of problems affects the introduction of machine tools into industry and this is a matter which we shall be examining. There are many aspects, including the fact that a similar allowance is paid for bad as for good machine tools.

Photo of Mr Quintin Hogg Mr Quintin Hogg , St Marylebone

While we welcome the right hon. Gentleman's statement that he will be making a statement shortly, will he give us some indication of when "shortly" is likely to be?

Photo of Mr Frank Cousins Mr Frank Cousins , Nuneaton

As soon as the facts have been ascertained, I shall provide them. I shall remember the suggestion about the electronics industry and I shall make a careful study rather than a predetermined judgment.