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asked the Minister of Technology what action he is taking to avoid long-term damage to the heavy electrical plant industry by the reduction of £17 million in the home generating ordering programme for 1968–69, and the further likely reduction of £20 million for 1969–70.
I am in touch with my right hon. Friends about the future power station ordering programme and its consequences for the manufacturers. Export orders for turbo-generators are at a record level, and there is scope for further increases of export orders for heavy electrical plant, which in the past have been restricted by the pressure of home demand.
Does not my hon. Friend agree that this important industry cannot hope to maintain its excellent record in the export market with a steadily diminishing home market brought about by short-sighted deflationary policies?
Clearly, it is undesirable to build power stations when there is not a demand for the electricity generated and the power station programme is sufficient to meet expected needs. As my hon. Friend knows, any revision in the power programme comes mainly from changed forecasts of demand.
Will not the hon. Gentleman agree that part of the problem raised in the Question is not so much the change in forecast demand but the fact that changes are made almost in the current year, whereas it would be much easier if they were made earlier in the five-year programme under which the C.E.G.B. works and not in the last year before an order would normally be placed?