Industrial Design

Oral Answers to Questions — Industry – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th March 1983.

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Photo of Mr Michael Morris Mr Michael Morris , Northampton South 12:00 am, 14th March 1983

asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he last met the chairman of the Design Council to discuss innovation in industrial design.

Photo of Mr John Butcher Mr John Butcher , Coventry South West

I have frequent contacts with the chairman of the Design Council, its members and its senior officials. I last met the chairman on 9 March, and my right hon. Friend will be seeing him later today when he opens the "Young Creators" exhibition at the Design Centre.

Photo of Mr Michael Morris Mr Michael Morris , Northampton South

Does my hon. Friend think that the money spent on the "Design for Profit" scheme is well spent? Does the scheme involve the applied art colleges?

Photo of Mr John Butcher Mr John Butcher , Coventry South West

The money committed to the "Design for Profit" campaign is well spent. The campaign is designed to persuade finance and managing directors of medium-sized companies that the skills of British designers can be used to better effect to help us to reconquer our domestic markets and to make inroads into international markets, where design is the key factor in the purchasing decisions of consumers.

Photo of Mr Edwin Wainwright Mr Edwin Wainwright , Dearne Valley

Is the Minister aware that press reports claim that Britain is becoming old-fashioned, that our industry is short of young designers and that they have to go abroad to obtain posts? Will he take action to ensure that our industries take advantage of the young industrial designers leaving our universities, and employ them, to ensure that we get new projects going in our industries?

Photo of Mr John Butcher Mr John Butcher , Coventry South West

The hon. Gentleman makes a strong point. It is precisely because we wish more British-trained designers to be employed by British companies that we are mounting the campaign. I agree that it is a tragedy that some of the products now being bought in large volume in Britain were designed by British people and manufactured by foreign companies. We wish to redress that position through the campaign.

Photo of Mr John Garrett Mr John Garrett , Norwich South

Why has the Department of Industry allowed the British Technology Group to sell to American companies two computer-aided design companies—one of which is already being run down by its new American owner? Is that not a case of public investment and expenditure on developing new design capabilities being transferred to American ownership? How does that serve the national interest?

Photo of Mr John Butcher Mr John Butcher , Coventry South West

The benefits of computer-aided design, regardless of the ownership of the companies, should be better promoted in the United Kingdom. Before the controversy arose many multinational companies kept a disproportionately large number of their software engineers and designers in Britain, simply because Bri tish-trained designers are so good. We should ask what is the benefit overall to the United Kingdom economy.