HC Deb 07 December 1965 vol 722 cc211-3
1. Mr. Bence

asked the Minister of Technology what proposals he has for encouraging the development and manufacture of highly specialised machine tools.

The Minister of Technology (Mr. Frank Cousins)

I have already announced proposals for supporting the development and manufacture of machine tools; these are applicable to suitable specialised machines no less than those of general application.

Mr. Bence

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many small manufacturing concerns, particularly in development areas, find it very difficult and financially embarrassing to undertake new production processes with high-cost precision machine tools? Will my right hon. Friend do something, perhaps through N.R.D.C., to set in motion production projects in order to get over the teething troubles and thus help more manufacturers to adopt new processes?

Mr. Cousins

Certainly the N.R.D.C. will be ready to examine these projects for small firms. Indeed, one of the main functions of N.R.D.C. is to consider problems which are not to be found outside of industry. If any worth-while project is brought forward, N.R.D.C. will look at it.

Sir J. Langford-Holt

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the manufacture of these articles is only the first step? The most important consideration is the fact that they should be used, and used properly. Can the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that those people who are due to use them are giving the Government the fullest co-operation?

Mr. Cousins

Yes. There are later Questions on the Order Paper which will bring this out.

14. Dr. Bray

asked the Minister of Technology what progress he is making in implementing the recommendations of the machine tool industry on manufacturing for stock during recessions.

17. Mr. Dan Jones

asked the Minister of Technology whether, in view of the current phase of the machine tool ordering cycle, he will take action on the anti-cyclical policies proposed by the machine tool industry.

Mr. Cousins

The working party I have appointed to examine the problems of the cyclical pattern of orders for machine tools is considering a number of proposals, including manufacturing for stock during recessions and I expect to receive its report very shortly.

Dr. Bray

Would my right hon. Friend agree that it is more important to get a solution to this problem than to get the perfect one, in order to catch the machine tool cycle at the place where this kind of idea is important?

Mr. Cousins

I think it is very important that we should get a solution and equally important that we should get the correct solution. Fortunately, despite the appearance that there was a turnback in orders in the early part of the year, they then climbed. We now have a little more time at our disposal, therefore, to find the correct solution.

19. Mr. Buchanan-Smith

asked the Minister of Technology what action he is taking to ensure that the presentation of information on imports of machine tool components is in a form which can be used by the machine tool industry.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Technology (Mr. Richard Marsh)

Apart from a particular case, on which the hon. Member has been in correspondence with the Ministry of Technology and on which we are already trying to help, I am not aware of any dissatisfaction with the present arrangements for the presentation of this information.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

Would the Parliamentary Secretary not agree that many of the Board of Trade's classifications do not give sufficient detail? For example, what use is being made of computers for trying to break down classifications into a more useful and intelligible state?

Mr. Marsh

It is not one of my responsibilities to answer for the Board of Trade.