HC Deb 12 November 1959 vol 613 cc577-8
27. Mr. Albu

asked the Minister of Education, as representing the Minister for Science, whether he will ask the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research to carry out an inquiry into the textile machinery industry, similar to that recently carried out on the machine-tool industry.

Mr. K. Thompson

The Department of Scientific and Industrial Research proposes to investigate in turn the research and development needs of those industries which, on the available evidence, appear not to be attracting a sufficient share of the nation's resources for technological development. My noble Friend will bring to the attention of the Research Council the suggestion of the hon. Member that the industry making textile machinery might be included at an early stage in their plans.

Mr. Albu

Will the hon. Gentleman convey to his noble Friend the view, commonly held, that this industry is another of those that is losing ground today to overseas competitors because of inadequate use of research and development departments and of graduate scientists and engineers, with the result that most of the inventions in textile machinery are coming from abroad? Will he ask his right hon. Friend to ask his noble Friend whether the machine-tool and textile-machinery industries are not, in fact, a test case for the appointment of a Minister for Science? Or is that just a piece of flannel to blind the electors to the real facts about our British industries, and is it a fact that it is not intended that the Government should take action at all?

Mr. Thompson

I informed the hon. Member that my noble Friend would have his attention drawn to the hon. Gentleman's remarks. I do not think that I should go further.

Mr. S. Silverman

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that one of the two main purposes of the Cotton Industry Act that the House passed in July of this year was to enable the mills that remained in the industry to re-equip themselves with modernised machinery, very largely—indeed, almost entirely—at the public expense; and that it therefore becomes increasingly necessary that the British textile-machinery industry should be ready to deal with what may be a very large demand?

Mr. Thompson

It would be very wrong for us to overlook the very creditable record of this industry. My noble Friend is willing to draw the attention of the Committee to the remarks made in the House today.

Mr. Osborne

Is my hon. Friend aware that certain sections of the textile machine building industry are at present selling large quantities of their products to Russia, and that the Russians buy only the finest machines in the world? It is dreadful that hon. Members who know so little about the building of textile machinery should speak as they do.

Mr. Albu

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that I have had a letter from one of the major production managers of one of the most successful textile machinery firms, which confirms every word that I have said?