HC Deb 29 July 1965 vol 717 cc673-4
30. Mr. Harold Walker

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will publish or make available a fully-detailed and comprehensive breakdown of machine tool imports, further to the information provided in the Overseas Trade Accounts.

Mr. Jay

Fuller details by type and by country of consignment are available from the Statistical Office of H.M. Customs and Excise. Figures for the year 1964 and the period January to May, 1965, have been placed in the Library.

Mr. Walker

Is my right hon Friend aware that some of us on this side have recently had discussions with the machine tool trade association—

Hon. Members

Speak up.

Mr. Heffer

Hon. Members opposite should get themselves hearing aids.

Mr. Walker

—at which representatives of the trade complained that the available information was not sufficiently detailed for its members to be able to make an assessment of the potential home market, using the absence of this detailed breakdown as justification for the trade's failure to reduce the level of machine tool imports? Does not this indicate a need for closer co-operation between the Board of Trade and machine tool manufacturers in this country?

Mr. Jay

As my hon. Friend knows, there has just been a very thorough report on this industry by one of the "little Neddies" and its proposals are now being put into force. Perhaps my Answer will have made clear that very detailed figures of this kind are, in fact, available.

Mr. Gurden

Why does not the President of the Board of Trade publish monthly figures—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speak up."]—of our home machine tool industry rather than create delay by keeping them for three months?

Mr. Jay

I am not sure that I heard the hon. Gentleman aright, but I shall study what he said in the OFFICIAL REPORT to see what can be done to help him.

Mr. Speaker

On the supposition that hon. Members desire to hear the questions, might I drop the hint that, if they are addressed to the Chair, then the machine tools which we have available can operate?