HC Deb 10 November 1960 vol 629 cc1210-2
29. Mr. Green

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will make a statement about the publication of the Report of the Committee which has been considering the machine tool industry.

Mr. Maudling

Yes, Sir. The Report will be published by the Stationery Office tomorrow. I should like to take this opportunity, on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, of thanking the chairman and members of the Committee for the valuable, comprehensive and unanimous Report which they have produced.

The Report is a self-contained document which, while stressing the difficulties of generalising about so diverse an industry, makes a number of important recommendations. The Committee found itself unable to accept Professor Mel-man's main contention that the industry would gain by adopting mass production methods. The main emphasis of the recommendations is on the need for a greater research and development effort to enable the industry to meet to an increasing extent the requirements for more and more highly specialised machine tools. This in turn will demand a substantial increase in the number of qualified engineers and scientists—[HON. MEMBERS: "Too long."]—in the industry.

Mr. Paget

On a point of order. We have now taken forty-five minutes for the answering of fewer than thirty Questions, many of which could have been answered "Yes" or "No". Can we not do something about this intolerable waste of time by Ministers?

Mr. Speaker

It is not forty-five minutes, and I dare say that some of the Questions, too, could have been shorter, but I am obliged to the hon. and learned Member for once more raising the importance of brevity.

Mr. Maudling

This is an important matter.

The Government welcome the main lines of the Report. I am already examining the detailed recommendations in consultation with the industry and with my colleagues. It is inevitable that a comprehensive Report on any industry of such size and complexity will contain some criticisms. Arising from this, I should like to make one general observation—[HON. MEMBERS: "Circulate it."]—this is a very important industry and a very important report. If the value of the Report—

Mr. S. Silverman

On a point of order. If this statement is so important as to require this length, would it not have been more appropriate to have made it at the end of Questions?

Mr. Speaker

I think that the general view of the House is apparent enough, but every time we have points of order we lose more time.

Mr. Maudling

If the value of the Report is not to be impaired, it is important that these criticisms should not be quoted out of context. This would be unfair and to the detriment of a great industry.

Mr. Green

While thanking my right hon. Friend for that statement, may I ask whether he will agree that the presentation of this Report will bring better informed and more constructive criticism of the industry?

Mr. Maudling

Yes, Sir.

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