HC Deb 13 November 1958 vol 595 cc539-40
3. Mr. Edelman

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been drawn to the difficulties which the machine tool industry is experiencing, and to the consequent decline of employment; and what action he is taking in order to arrest this trend.

Sir D. Eccles

I am aware that order books for machine tools have declined from a very high level. The Measures adopted by the Government and announced in the debate on the Address should help this industry.

Mr. Edelman

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware, when dismissing the matter so lightly, that compared with last year, orders in hand have fallen by £25 million in value; that employment has gone down by 6,000, and that unemployment has gone up by 1,000? Is he further aware that many of the leading machine tool manufacturers have taken to acting as agents for foreign manufacturers of the most advanced type of transfer machinery, thus further producing unemployment in the industry? Will he take note of that?

Sir D. Eccles

I am aware of those facts. In time, investment will pick up, but at the moment both overseas orders and home orders are not as high as they were.