I know that the hon. Gentleman has a serious interest in the computer industry. He does that interest no credit with this kind of muck-raking.
Will the Minister give an assurance that when the report is received he will seek to abolish the single tender scheme in the public sector, which favours the English ICL manufacturer against the Scottish computers produced by IBM, NCR and Burroughs? Does he realise that this does immense harm to Scottish jobs in the computer industry?
The hon. Member must be complimented on extending his Scottish nationalism across the Atlantic. I have had consultations with both Burroughs, whose presence I welcome, and Honeywell, which has recently received an extremely good order for a university computer. I am anxious that both companies should provide maximum employment, but I have made clear to them that I am not prepared to undermine the position of the only wholly-British owned computer company.
Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that the problem of computers spreads well beyond data processing, and will he ensure that the use of computers in other spheres, including control and automation, is taken into account in this inquiry?
I am not prepared to become involved in personalities in the way the hon. Members seeks. This is a constructive tripartite group and we are looking forward to its report so that various matters can be studied and reported upon later.
Will the Minister take this question seriously? It appears that my hon. Friend the Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) is trying to find out whether there is a case for ensuring that there is full union representation in these discussions. It also appears that the Minister has not grasped the importance of this matter. Will he now answer the question in the terms in which it was put?
The terms in which it was put were offensive, and I refuse, however much provoked, to respond in an offensive way, because it is not in my nature. We look forward to constructive tripartite discussions and a satisfactory report.