Oral Answers to Questions — Duchy of Lancaster – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1st May 1995.

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Photo of Mr John Marshall Mr John Marshall , Hendon South 12:00 am, 1st May 1995

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what plans he has to meet the Institute of Civil Engineering to discuss the role of engineering. [20153]

Photo of John Horam John Horam , Orpington

In the last year my senior officials met engineering bodies on six occasions. I look forward to continuing this close relationship.

Photo of Mr John Marshall Mr John Marshall , Hendon South

In view of the importance of engineering to the economy, can my hon. Friend state that a Minister as well as officials will meet officials of the industry in future?

Photo of John Horam John Horam , Orpington

Absolutely. My right hon. Friend met engineering institutions three times in January, four times in February and three times in March. I have also met many engineers at all levels of—

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

Order. I would be much obliged if the Minister would use the microphone not only so that we can hear him but so that I can see him.

Photo of John Horam John Horam , Orpington

I was turning away, perhaps out of excessive politeness, to deal with my hon. Friend's question.

The results of yesterday's race at Imola, which Damon Hill won, and the fact that no fewer than nine of the 10 Grand Prix cars used were British-built by British engineering, shows the quality engineering that we have in Britain, which we should support.

Photo of Gwyneth Dunwoody Gwyneth Dunwoody , Crewe and Nantwich

Would the Minister like to astonish himself on one of the occasions when he or his newly found colleagues address the engineering institutions by recommending some way in which new jobs can be created in engineering so that we might begin to get back to the state in which we compete as engineers and do not have to import other people's goods?

Photo of John Horam John Horam , Orpington

I am afraid that the hon. Lady is behind the times. Manufacturing in this country has strengthened considerably in the past few years, particularly in vehicle manufacture, which she knows all about in her constituency. Engineering in Britain is on a high now. That is partly as a result of the interest of the Government and partly as a result of the inward investment that the Government have successfully encouraged in the past five or 10 years. The hon. Lady should come up to date.

Photo of Mr Gyles Brandreth Mr Gyles Brandreth , City of Chester

Will my hon. Friend confirm that, as from next year, technology will be part of the national curriculum for all young people from five to 16 and that over the next three years the Government are committed to putting in an additional £10 million to top up bursaries for top-flight undergraduates studying technology?

Photo of John Horam John Horam , Orpington

Yes. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for those facts. The Royal Academy of Engineering is getting another £400,000 this year, which will bring up to £2.6 million the contribution that we are making to that body. As a result of science being in the school curriculum for the first time on a comprehensive basis, about 1.6 million pupils are now taking science subjects at GCSE level. That is more than double the figure of five years ago and is the result of the first group of children coming through the new science curriculum.