HC Deb 31 October 1949 vol 469 cc1-4
1. Mr. Albu

asked the Minister of Supply whether he has received the final report of the Committee which he set up to investigate standardisation in the engineering industry; and whether it is his intention to publish it.

2. Mr. Parkin

asked the Minister of Supply if the Committee he set up under the chairmanship of Sir Ernest Lemon to investigate standardisation in the engineering industry has completed its work; and whether he will make a statement.

The Minister of Supply (Mr. G. R. Strauss)

As the answer is rather long, I propose with your permission, Mr. Speaker, to read it at the end of Questions.


Mr. G. R. Strauss

Sir Ernest Lemon's Committee has now completed its investigations and sent me a final report which includes the substance of two interim reports. This final report will be published tomorrow.

The report reviews the problems of standardisation, simplification and specialisation in engineering goods and makes a number of recommendations. I should like to take this opportunity of expressing my thanks to Sir Ernest Lemon and his colleagues for their comprehensive and valuable report.

The report brings out that, while some parts of the industry have made considerable progress in reducing unnecessary variety in production, this is by no means universally so.

Certain recommendations about the British Standards Institution are made. These have already been acted upon. The institution is strengthening itself to deal with the increased work likely to fall to it and my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, as he announced in the House on 23rd June, 1949, has appointed a committee to consider its organisation.

The main recommendations in the Report deal with the action which not only manufacturing, but also using industries should take to reduce unnecessary variety in engineering production. I earnestly hope they will be carefully studied by every section of the industry. Where the recommendations affect socialised industries, Government Departments and other public bodies, they have already been drawn to the attention of the authorities concerned. They are being considered by my own Department in relation to its extensive purchasing activities.

The United Kingdom side of the Anglo-American Council on Productivity has recently concluded an inquiry into the extent to which concentration on a limited range of manufacture has assisted production in America. Their report, which deals with industry in general, is also being published tomorrow. Their conclusions are very much in line with those reached by Sir Ernest Lemon's Committee and the United Kingdom side of the Council will, I understand, be taking steps to follow up their recommendations with industry. The simultaneous publication of these two reports will, I hope, stimulate interest in this important aspect of our production problem. The adoption and application of these principles must, however, rest primarily on industry itself and I urge all those in positions of responsibility to apply themselves energetically to the task. I have no doubt that this can have a significant effect in lowering the production costs of British engineering goods.

Mr. Albu

In view of the very great importance of this matter to increased productivity and, therefore, to our export drive, will the Minister give the greatest publicity possible to both the report of the Lemon Committee and the report of the Anglo-American Committee on Productivity, and, if necessary, publish a summary of the reports in a simplified form?

Mr. Strauss

Yes, Sir, we have that in contemplation.

Mr. Erroll

In order to prevent the development of a "take-it-or-leave-it" attitude, will the Minister bear in mind that to please a wide variety of customers, it is often necessary to have a wide variety of standards, too?

Mr. Strauss

If the hon. Member reads the report, he will find that that point is noticed there.

Mr. Warbey

Can my right hon. Friend say whether the report shows that any substantial progress has been made with the much overdue standardisation of parts and accessories in the motor industries, and, if not, what steps he proposes to take?

Mr. Strauss

The report does not specifically deal with that aspect of the problem. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman should read the report in full.

Mr. Eden

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us for our guidance what the Government's view is on the difference between "socialised" and "nationalised" industry?

Captain Crookshank

It is like "revaluation," I suppose.