HC Deb 22 January 1959 vol 598 c396
29. Mr. de Freitas

asked the President of the Board of Trade what has been the effect on the heavy engineering industry in Lincoln and elsewhere of recent changes in policy on opencast coal mining.

Sir D. Eccles

I understand that some public works contractors have cancelled a few orders for equipment and that this is attributed by the manufacturers concerned to reductions in the opencast coal programme.

Mr. de Freitas

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that the Government's policy about the import of machinery from the United States has directly aggravated the situation caused in Lincoln by the change in coal policy? Why have the Government changed their mind just at this time and allowed earth-moving equipment to be imported from the United States, thus causing directly the cancellation of contracts in Lincoln, also just at the time when British engineering exports to the United States have been prevented by the American Government? Will the right hon. Gentleman consider this change of Government policy?

Sir D. Eccles

My understanding of the position is that the British manufacturers of all equipment, except perhaps the very largest—I am not quite sure about that—are now competitive with North America and are exporting equipment there.

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