HC Deb 30 June 1960 vol 625 cc1538-9
19. Mr. Harold Davies

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has yet had a report from the committee set up towards the end of January this year to report on the machine tool industry; and what action he is now taking to assist the machine tool industry.

Mr. Maudling

I understand that the Sub-Committee has almost completed its inquiries and has started to prepare its report to the Machine Tool Advisory Council. The question whether any further action should be taken to assist the industry will be considered when this is received

Mr. Davies

While thanking the President of the Board of Trade for that reply, may I ask whether he is aware that since the Report of the Metal Working Machine Tool Productivity Team in 1953, the Government have apparently taken very little action over this vital British key industry? When the right hon. Gentleman is considering help to the industry, are we once again to have a pattern of help in which masses of money will be given to private enterprise without a full report to Parliament? Will he look seriously at the four or five main criticisms—I will not repeat them—made of this industry in the past ten years? Unless Britain does something about this, we shall lose our place industrially in the world.

Mr. Maudling

I think that the pattern of any help to be given to the industry must wait until we see from the report whether such help is needed and, if it is, what form it should take. I ask the hon. Gentleman not to decry too much the efforts of this very important export industry. In the first four months of this year its exports were 38 per cent. up on the same period a year ago—a fine achievement. I am sure that this is one of our most important industries, and a key industry whose products, as the recent exhibition at Olympia showed, compare with any in the world.