HC Deb 19 November 1959 vol 613 cc1325-6
20. Mr. Edelman

asked the Minister of Education, as representing the Minister for Science, what further Government aid he proposes to give the machine-tool industry in order to encourage an extension of research and development as proposed in the recent survey by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.

Sir D. Eccles

Discussions are now taking place on the recommendations of the D.S.I.R. Report to which the hon. Member refers. The Department is always ready to consider proposals for the support of research and development which are likely to lead to results of value to the nation as a whole.

Mr. Edelman

In that case, will the right hon. Gentleman say why there is so much secrecy about the conclusions in the Report as distinct from the evidence? Is it because the Report shows that under the present Tory administration there has been a serious decline in output, orders and relative quality of design? In those circumstances, will not he initiate a public inquiry into a grave matter of public importance?

Sir D. Eccles

My noble Friend is looking into this matter. I can tell the hon. Gentleman only that from my experience, such as it was, at the Board of Trade I consider that the machine-tool industry has a good record in the export trade.

Mr. Albu

Is the Minister aware that, from the point of view of percentages of world exports, the German figure for exports of machine tools is two-and-a-half times more than ours, the American figure is double, the Swiss rather more, and that Japan and Russia are now catching up?

Sir D. Eccles

It depends on what basis one starts. Some of these countries produced practically nothing directly after the war.