HC Deb 19 March 1965 vol 708 cc1719-36

3.10 p.m.

Mr. E. S. Bishop (Newark)

I beg to move, That this House, having regard to the observations of the Feilden Report on Engineering Design that Great Britain's share of international trade in engineering goods has been declining, and that in spite of some notable successes, too many British products are being outclassed in performance, reliability and sales appeal, and that imports of machinery have been increasing, urges Her Majesty's Government to encourage the implementation of the report and particularly those recommendations concerning the need to increase the prestige of design, the status of designers and the need for adequate training, with the objective of strengthening our economy. We have listened for several hours to a most interesting and important debate on mental health which I think most of us would say was something which concerned us all, either through illness in our family or among our friends, and certainly it is predominant in our community. In the shadow of that debate it would appear that a debate on the Feilden Report was of little significance. but I am pleased to have the opportunity of referring briefly to this Report—I am aware of the courtesy of allowing other hon. Members to make brief interventions—because, although it was issued nearly two years ago, it is not widely known. In fact, there is widespread ignorance about what it says and recommends. When it was known that I had chosen this Report for discussion, I was struck by the surprising number of people who asked me what it was all about.

On the face of it, it would appear that the subject of engineering design is of very limited scope and interest. In fact, the reverse is the case, for good design in engineering is of vital importance to the economic health of our country and to the prospect of substantially increasing our export trade. My case will be well put if I draw attention to the first paragraph of the summary of conclusions in the Report, which says: Britain's share of international trade in engineering goods has been declining. It goes on to say, as I say in the Motion: In spite of some notable successes, too many British products are being outclassed in performance, reliability and sales appeal. Imports of machinery have been increasing". This is a startling statement for the Report to make, and doubtless some people may produce figures which show that the trend is the other way. Some will say that we are doing better than we used to do. But the plain fact is that we have not done enough, and it is no good fooling ourselves any longer.

As well as giving our industry credit where it is due, the Report claims that we are losing ground in world markets because the design of our products is not satisfying the customer. I want to quote a paragraph from the Report which clearly sets out the situation. It says: In 1961 imports of machinery (excluding vehicles) were valued at £315 million. Imports cancelled out 28 per cent. of exports of machinery (£1,131 million) and represented a rise (at constant prices) of 224 per cent. in the 12 years from 1950. It goes on to say that in the period 1960–62 a quarter of our own demand for textile machinery, machine tools, optical instruments and office machinery including computers was met from foreign sources. Therefore, British industries depend substantially on foreign plant and machinery.

Anyone walking through the streets of our towns and cities, through Newark, which I represent, through Nottingham and other towns in Nottinghamshire, and through London will see a great abundance of optical equipment, cameras, radio and communication equipment, much of it brought here from Japan and other countries. It can be said in 1965 that the streets of London are paved with gold for foreign manufacturers. This situation must cause grave concern to those who are anxious about the well-being of our economic situation.

These are facts from which we cannot escape. We do no service to our country or its well-being if we indulge in nostalgic memories that we are the nation which threw up Stephenson and Brunel, that we had Telford amongst us and that, in recent times, we have Whittle. We can say that we produced men like Camm, who designed one of the aircraft which saved us in the Battle of Britain. We can talk about hovercraft, and so on. These things may blind us to the realities of our present situation. What we need is more scientific research. I am sure that we are gratified that the Ministry of Technology can take care of that. We need, much more, the ability to apply it. I want to quote Professor John Baker: Science earns a nation no dividends until it has passed further through the mills of technology. Many other notable people have been saying the same thing for many years.

The Feilden Committee makes various recommendations. What is wrong with the present situation? My Motion draws attention to several factors. The Feilden Report claims that action should be taken to increase the prestige of design and the status of designers. It used to be thought —many still think—that the brainy youngsters in our schools took classics and the arts and the not so brainy youngsters became practical workers using more their hands than the brain. Engineering has been excluded from the arts and from culture, yet, if science is to be applied, great learning, resourcefulness, inventive genius and, indeed, perseverance are required from those concerned.

In another article which has been published recently, in a book called "Progress", Professor John Baker says this: If we are to survive, this bias against engineering must be reversed without delay. Long-standing social prejudices still persist in this snob-ridden country … In the popular Press, on the radio and television all this is exciting and original and is credited to the scientist, whether it is the latest development in computers or the launching of a new satellite, whereas in most cases the triumph is one of engineering. This, on the face of it, is harmless enough reported to an educated public. Unfortunately, it is not educated. Even the schoolmaster, that influential person, falls for the unintentional propaganda. When we have been discussing and marvelling in the last day or two at men being put into space, we have appreciated that they go into space because science has made it possible. They would not have been got there unless the vehicle in which they travelled and all the mechanism they used was not created by designers, draughtsmen and engineers. In the long run, they depend on these vital workers for their safe return to our hemisphere. These are things which are most important in this connection.

Even today, it is thought that to have success a commercial career is more important than a technical one. How wrong that is. The financiers, the commercial interests, the accountants, the stockbrokers and the speculators, important though some may think they are, can make a profit only if they handle the products of man's hand and brain. In this process, engineers and designers are the vital link in the chain of national prosperity. Status in modern terms, as we all know, is related to income and earning capacity. Unfortunately, as we know, the stockbroker still counts for more than the industrial designer, although there cannot be any doubt who is of greater value to our community.

What must be done in this connection? We have to realise the need to bridge the gap between academic theory and industrial practice. Professional bodies must give more prominence to design qualifications, as the Feilden Report suggests. I have to declare an interest here, because I am an associate member of the Institution of Engineering Designers and an associate member of the Royal Aeronautical Society, and these two bodies, among others, have produced evidence which is embodied in the findings of the Feilden Report. I am also a member of the Draughtsmen's and Allied Technicians' Association.

These bodies have played their part in trying to raise the standards of engineering. The latter body has been doing a great deal of work to inform its members and has sold over 100,000 technical publications each year, mainly written by its members, designed to help its members in design establishments.

I know that in the past two years there have been numerous Government publications, reports, White Papers, Blue Books and memoranda on this kind of thing, related to the need to raise the status of engineers and to establishing more apropropriate industrial and educational courses and training. But the fact is that design staffs still feel that they occupy a subordinate position, for the controlling influence is in the hands of the financial and commercial men rather than those with a scientific or technical background. In addition, in our schools, tradition rates technology rather low in social esteem.

Provision ought to be made for far more young people in our schools and colleges, whatever course of education they may be undertaking, to spend some time in contact with technical matters and so develop a greater appreciation of their importance. A word should be said here about the need to encourage young ladies to be technically minded. Those of us who have worked in engineering—I have been concerned with engineering design in the aircraft industry for about 27 years—know that there are many women who can make a substantial contribution to the technical goodness of our industrial life if they have the opportunities to use their skill and abilities. Much more can be done by the Press, professional bodies, television, radio and other sources to raise the status of designers and engineers, to put them in their true light and to stimulate greater interest among our young people.

I want to say a word or two about education and training. From a glance at the newspapers it may be thought that there is a great abundance of skilled designers, and particularly so since certain changes have been made in our aircraft industry. But that is not really so. Industry, as we know, is rather of a specialised nature and people who are experienced in one kind of industry cannot suddenly be switched to other branches without suitable retraining and adaptation. Of course, they may have a very sound basic appreciation of the problems they will face. But not only do branches of engineering vary, with civil, electrical, mechanical, aeronautical and other forms, but also the industries themselves are specialised. This, of course, is particularly true of the aircraft industry, and suitable retraining is required to switch from one branch to the other.

In this context of training and education, proper apprenticeship is absolutely vital, and our present schemes leave a good deal to be desired. In education, university and school courses should include several months of experience in industry so that our young people may know what the job really means and what it is all about for later when they may decide to enter it. One would agree—and many have said this before—that there should be much closer and more intimate relationship between industry and university, between the colleges and the professional institutions. Progress today in science and technology is rather rapid, and it is important that we keep abreast of changing methods.

Some might say that design is a rather uninteresting subject. It concerns stresses and strains, materials and protective treatments, and in aircraft there are dynamics and flight problems and so on. But we have to realise—and here the consumer has an interest—that design is concerned with producing goods which can do the jobs expected of them, and it is necessary to achieve this in the simplest way at the least possible cost. It also concerns quality, ease of manufacture, economy, efficiency, and, when in use, reasonable life with simple servicing and maintenance. One of the problems that we face in the export trade is that our products do not come up to expectations in this respect.

In the county area which I represent in the House our neighbouring University of Nottingham has had a Production Engineering Department since 1952 which with eight other departments forms the Faculty of Applied Science and most of the aspects of production design are covered. This kind of situation should spread throughout the country so that we can train more engineers to do the jobs expected of them.

I cannot finish without referring to the rate for the job. Properly trained and educated designers may take as long as 10 years before they are qualified for the responsibilities which they are to undertake. This period means education, with certificates, and then five years or more of apprenticeship and finally getting used to the job in industry. We must therefore attach great importance to the value of adequate and proper training.

In these circumstances, having spent so much time to be qualified and trained, and to obtain experience, the people in the industry have the right to expect adequate rewards for the training they have done, but the average wage for a man over 30 is still only in about the £1,000 a year class—not much more than the national average for all workers. These people are not all covered by pension schemes, and not all have the promotion prospects which they should have. Other conditions, also, are not as good as they might be. The employers' bodies in the shipbuilding and engineering industries are not fully aware of the need to implement the Feilden Report, and in the case of shipbuilding about 1,000 designers go abroad each year because they do not think that they have the possibilities of employment and adequate rewards in this country. When we talk about status and the need for qualified men and women we must regard adequate rewards as of great importance. Much remains to be done in this connection.

There is no time to go into all the recommendations of the Feilden Report, but I want to draw the attention of hon. Members to it. I suggest that the Report, which costs only 4s., the price of "Lady Chatterley's Lover", is more interesting and more essential to our national prosperity. I am sure that there is an increasing concern and realisation that trade depends on the merits and performance, appearance, reliability, delivery and price of the goods which we sell here and abroad.

This is what the Motion is all about. There is nothing dry or uninteresting about that, because the design of our products determines all these things, and, therefore, designers determine to a large extent our national prosperity. The Prime Minister in recent weeks has called the attention of the country to the need to take a new look at our establishment. In our new thinking we must make sure that there is no room for complacency and outworn ideas. The boss who still pats a machine on the head and says that it was put in the factory in 1898 by his father and is still going strong today is an enemy of society. We must make changes as quickly as possible.

There is in my constituency a vast number of enterprises and industries—mining, agricultural engineers, the manufacture of ball bearings, pumps, and other machinery—and I appreciate that the prosperity of the people who live there depends on the progress that we can make in improving our design facilities. One of the legendary figures of the constituency was Robin Hood, who lived in Sherwood Forest, also in my constituency. He and I have something in common in our concern with the production of guided weapons. It may be said that his work was on the more humble bow and arrow, and a very big step forward has been taken to the Bristol Bloodhound on which I have been engaged in design problems. But, as I said before, although we can be proud of progress in some directions, there is still a great deal to be desired.

I draw the attention of the House and the Government, therefore, to the importance of the Feilden Report and to the necessity for implementing its conclusions at the earliest possible opportunity.

3.30 p.m.

Mr. Julian Snow (Lichfield and Tam-worth)

The whole House is indebted to my hon. Friend the Member for Newark (Mr. Bishop) for drawing our attention and that of the country to the neglected Feilden Report, the more so because, in the light of our economic problems today, the main recommendations and conclusions reached by the Feilden Committee as a result of evidence submitted to it lead one to suppose that the training of people in the manufacture of more technical machinery and engineering products has been neglected and something really must be done about it.

I quote from the Report these words of Professor Barna: The inferior training position of Britain is thus an indication of technical backwardness. I shall illustrate what I have to say by referring to one particular industry and its place, or the place which it should hold, in our export drive, and I shall then return to the question of how something can be done about it.

In the machine tool industry there has been some complacency recently about its export record. The most recent figures of our exports give no cause for great encouragement. Not long ago, a party of hon. Members were invited by the Machine Tool Trades Association to visit certain units in this country. One hon. Member remarked on how impressed he had been by what this country could offer, but he went on to say that there was a sharp disparity between what this country could manufacture and offer and its export record.

There seems to be a feeling—though I myself believe that this is just a failing in the structure of the trade—that we have to import so many machine tools because they are of a specialist character. What steps do we take to show the world what we ourselves can provide in manufacturing not only what I will call, rather brusquely, the common or garden run of machine tools but also the very specialised tools which we are at present importing?

I refer, for instance, to the market in Japan. In 1963—I am quoting the latest figures available to me from the Commodity Trades Statistics, 1963, published by the United Nations—Japan imported a total of 83 million American dollars worth of machine tools. Of that total, the United States exported to Japan 32 million dollars worth, the Common Market countries exported 49 million dollars worth, and the United Kingdom exported 2 million dollars worth. The strange fact is that, whereas the Government have this very year got a British Trade Fair organised for September in Tokyo, not one machine tool exhibitor will be there. Indeed, at the last specialist exihibition of machine tools at Osaka, in Japan—I would emphasise that Japan is becoming the mart in the Far East for all manufactured goods—only 12 out of 180 potential manufacturers of machine tools took the trouble to exhibit.

The same rather sorry story is true of the British Trade Fair in Australia recently, in which we did not participate. The failure was noted by the Australian Press, which made some very adverse comments about it. When I hear hon. Members opposite talking about the restrictive practices of trade unions, I cannot understand why the machine tool industry of this country has this restrictive practice of not exhibiting at mixed exhibitions.

I would like to know why it is. Is it a shortage of trained salesmen? I have been to Japan once or twice. I have travelled extensively, like other hon. Members, and I do not suppose that one of us comes back from abroad without being somewhat depressed by some of the types of people that we send abroad to sell goods—people who do not seem to be able to adopt the attitude that salesmen of other countries do, that they are out to sell to customers who have no particular obligation towards them.

Or is there some other reason? Here, I refer to a quotation on page 30 of the Feilden Report which emanates from the Machine Tool Trades Association: Experience of manufacturing methods for a particular type of product and of its use is essential if a viable design is to emerge. That is, of course, a question of training for the actual production of the machinery in question. The designer must he introduced into the industry to see how machinery can be used in order to do his job in the actual production of these extremely complex bits of machinery. I think that the same sort of consideration must be given to our salesmen abroad. They must be prepared to examine the manufacturing problems of their potential customers who need these machines.

I should also like to say how greatly interested I was in my hon. Friend's speech. He has extremely impressive technical qualifications which I do not possess. I think that credit is due to the great trade union which is involved largely in the machine tool industry for the part it has played in trying stimulate the training of skilled people for the engineering industry. Indeed, in one part of the evidence which it submitted to the Feilden Committee the Amalgamated Engineering Union said: the innovations of design have mostly come from other countries". If this is so—there is much evidence to suggest that that is correct—what will our position be?

We as a country must depend on sophisticated manufacturing capacity if we are to hold our position in the world. We simply must have people able to sell the complicated and complex engineering products that we can produce. We certainly can produce them. I suggest that the Government ought to pay, and ought to show that they are paying, very great attention to the recommendations of the Feilden Committee.

3.39 p.m.

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

I should like, first, to thank, on behalf of the whole House I am sure, my hon. Friend the Member for Newark (Mr. Bishop) for introducing this subject, because it is an important one. It is a great pity that we have not more hon. Members to take part in the debate. None the less, it is perhaps taking place later in the afternoon than they expected.

I was very pleased indeed to hear the remarks made by my hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield and Tamworth (Mr. Snow), in which he related the Feilden Report to the practical problems which face the country. There is a great danger of a Report of this type being regarded as a document which is something for a small, narrow group of engineers only, whereas it is, in fact, much more fundamental than that.

I should like to say immediately that the Government welcome the opportunity which the debate gives to re-emphasise the importance of engineering in the country's economy. It is an essential part of our national life and our economic activity and is probably not receiving either enough attention or enough status. There is an interesting part in the Report about status, on page 1, which says: The engineering profession has a lower social and economic status in Britain than in other highly industrialised countires. Technology attracts a lower proportion of the ablest school leavers than science and, of those who take engineering degrees and enter engineering industry, most are attracted by research and management appointments; very few take up design as a career. This is a difficult thing to measure, but most of us would agree that that is so. In Britain, the engineering graduate does not attract to himself the same degree of status in the community that some other sections, which shall remain nameless, think that they should have for similar qualifications.

This is particularly dangerous in a country like Britain, which depends so much on its engineering activities. As the Feilden Report says, the engineering industries account for about 35 per cent. of the entire contribution of manufacturing industries to the gross national product and for nearly half the United Kingdom's total exports, and exports account for about one-third of total engineering production.

The Report also emphasises something which has come out in the last couple of years—the declining British share of international trade in engineering products over the seven years 1954–1960. The Committee felt obliged to conclude that if so many products in which historically Britain excelled were losing ground in world markets, it was probably because their design was failing to satisfy the customer.

"Design" is one of those words which people tend to regard as meaning something purely visual and of no practical value, but engineering goods are sold on performance, reliability, appearance, delivery and price and hon. Members will agree that design enters into almost every one of those qualifications.

I would not go so far as Professor Bishop—I am not sure whether he is related to my hon. Friend, but they obviously have similar interests if not identical views—of the University College, London, who said: … the conflicting standards of perfection that a designer may be asked to aim at are those of infinite life, no cost, no mass, no size, carnot efficiency, extreme beauty, no time to design or make! That is probably going rather further than is intended, but the analysis of the trends in international trade in engineering products mentioned in paragraph 15 of the Report and the unsatisfactory position which it reveals were important reasons underlying the Government's decision to set up the Ministry of Technology.

Hon. Members opposite were opposed to this appointment. I make no point about that. They have frequently been in favour of reports and against action to implement them and I am sure that they mean well and do the best they can—and I can think of nothing more insulting to say than that.

We now have a Ministry responsible purely for technology and it carries responsibility for many of the matters dealt with in the Report. This is why the Government attach importance to the Report and will implement it with the assistance of the Ministry of Technology. Initiating studies, the status of the engineering profession and raising the standard of the entire profession, including the status of engineering designers, will be among the matters with which my right hon. Friend will be concerned.

There is no doubt that one of the main things which the Feilden Report has already accomplished and which is very important has been the immediate increase in interest in the problems of engineering design, mainly at a professional level. The Engineering Institutions' Joint Council has now petitioned for a Royal Charter and the main objectives of the Joint Council are to establish qualifying standards to enable the profession to speak with one voice. Both these should raise the status of the profession and thus of the designers within the profession as well.

In the field of training, the Feilden Committee made a number of recommendations. First, that experiments in methods of teaching design at undergraduate and post-graduate levels in universities and colleges as well as in industry should be encouraged. Following the publication of the Report a number of universities and colleges of advanced technology have discussed ways and means of teaching design to engineers, and in April, 1964, the Department of Education and Science organised a short course at Loughborough College of Technology to discuss the problems and ways and means of producing good design.

Secondly, That the practical training of professional engineers should be reorganised to include more emphasis on modern production methods, works organisation, costs and the influence of design; and to bring about a closer integration of the practical and academic elements of education. There have been a number of developments in this field, and I might refer to the fact that the Institution of Mechanical Engineers is encouraging experiment by providing a forum for discussion of the teaching of design. It is interesting that the Institution is also embodying the following interpretative note in its rules: With effect from 1st January, 1967, the Institution will normally require a candidate for corporate membership to show that he has gained an insight into the engineering design process (for any type of product) and into the interdependence of the design role with other engineering functions. Only exceptionally would this requirement be waived. Thirdly, To ensure that draughtsmen and technicians who are concerned with detail design are given an adequate understanding of the principles involved. The Department of Education and Science is at present considering ways of introducing elements of engineering design into certain national certificate and diploma courses in engineering. The City and Guilds of London Institute's Mechanical Engineering Technicians Course, which was established in 1961, includes an element of engineering design from the point of view of production engineering and manufacture, and this course is available at over 250 colleges throughout the country.

In addition to this there are also courses for draughtsmen at Government training centres. I would add that, of course, the present Government are in the process of expanding the scale of the Government training centres and their capacity. Normally, design is not taught as part of the draughtsmen course. It is an extensive course. Better quality trainees, however, are taught the elements of design, and it is known that after further experience some have been employed as junior design staff.

Fourthly, To ensure that in the implementation of the scheme for industrial training … the industrial training of professional engineers and technicians as well as of skilled craftsmen will be included as soon as possible. Since the Feilden Report was published, the Industrial Training Act, giving effect to the late Government's proposals is being implemented by the present Government. The last Government made a start on it, and we have been doing a rather more useful job. It has now become law, and an Industrial Training Board has been established for the engineering industry. That Board has declared its intention to concern itself with training at all levels. Some people believe that the Industrial Training Act deals only with apprentices. It will be dealing with everyone from apprentices in the engineering industry right down to post-graduates and people of this type. The Board will be imposing its first levy within the next few months and the Training Committee has recently established a special sub-committee to consider professional and technical training. I would think that this sub-committee will, in due course, be turning its mind to the subject of training in design.

I would add that the members of the Engineering Board include eight professional engineers who, obviously, will be aware of the importance of seeing that recommendations for training make adequate provision for training in engineering design. The Industrial Training Act also made provision for the establishment of a Central Training Council which is to advise the Minister on the administration of the Act and on industrial training questions generally. Seven of the members of the Central Training Council are members of one or more of the professional institutions constituting the Engineering Institutions' Joint Council. The whole question of the influence of the Industrial Training Act upon the raising of the status of professional engineering staff and of providing the qualified background for people taking part in the industry at that level is extremely important.

As I said earlier, we have decided to press ahead rapidly with the implementation of the Act and the Government are determined to ensure that it is implemented to the full. By the end of this year, we hope that about 8 to 9 million people in industry will have been covered by the Act. One would hope that in under three years the whole of industry would he covered, not only in terms of laying down standards of training for the apprentice, but particularly on some of the higher levels and in the professional gradings as well.

The Engineering Board, which is the board mainly concerned with the Report, has got off the ground much faster than the other boards. It will be raising its levy this year and will be setting in being its activities to measure and improve standards of training at all levels almost immediately. In the meantime, it will raise the complete cost of training, whether in design or in anything else, from the industry, and then redistribute it again to everybody within the industry so that those firms which are doing a great deal of training in this direction will be assisted in that by other firms who have done nothing or little at all.

The last of the recommendations of the Feilden Report to which I should like to refer is the establishing of institutes at suitable universities and colleges for advanced studies in particular fields of design in close association with industry, and the establishing of a higher degree in engineering design. Last year, agreement was reached following discussions between the Lough-borough College of Technology, industry and the Department of Education and Science on the setting up at the college of a centre for engineering design. The college has been contemplating the establishment of such a centre for some time.

The centre will be for graduate engineers and it is envisaged that its work should aim to incorporate the definition of a designer's responsibility given in the Feilden Report and which … covers the whole process from conception to the issue of detailed instructions for production … It is envisaged that practical design work should be undertaken by students, the bulk of it probably in electrical and mechanical engineering. Courses are expected to consist of the main elements in design work carried out under tutorial guidance and lectures and tutorials on design and engineering principles. The centre may also specialise in some part of its work, involving the design of one or two products.

It is proposed that the centre should work in close co-operation with industry and there is already encouraging support from that quarter. The college's plans have reached the point where it proposes to appoint a director for the centre at professional level. The question of accommodation is under consideration.

The University of Cambridge plans to start one-year post-graduate courses in engineering design methods in October, 1965. The course will lead to a Certificate of Advanced Study in Engineering. Each engineer attending will be expected to bring with him some difficult problem from his firm—that should not be difficult—the solution of which will form part of the teaching. This method is an extraordinarily interesting one in getting firms actually to produce current problems which they face and to relate the instruction to the solving of those problems. What will happen to the reputation of the centre if it cannot solve them, I tremble to think. Finally, I emphasise that advanced design is essential if modern technology is to be injected into British industries.

As I said at the beginning, the Government are very much in favour of accepting the Report. There will be no dispute on either side about this. But we are going ahead even further to implement not only the list of recommendations which the Report sets out but also the intentions and the feeling behind it—because this is not just a question of whether we would like to see engineers having a little more training, or whether we think that the qualifications should be set around with different types of training; it is a question of survival itself.

Our country's present standard of living, and any increase in that standard, depends almost entirely on the extent to which we can make British industry and especially its engineering industry, as good as or better than that of other countries. To be able to survive, indeed, it must be better than that of other countries.

As my hon. Friend has pointed out, this country is famous for the richness of its pageantry and the charm of its traditions. But we must never fall into the trap of thinking that we can maintain and improve our standards of living on the proceeds of showing American tourists the Tower of London or selling picture postcards of Parliament to groups of Continental schoolchildren in Westminster Hall. During the coming years of Socialist rule—and they will be many—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh".] I have been searching all this afternoon, as have many of my hon. Friends, for a way of injecting some life into hon. Members opposite. At one stage I wondered whether or not they were still alive. It is nice to know that they are with us.

As I was saying, we intend, during the coming years of Socialist rule, to keep the traditions and pageantry of Britain, but purely as a decorative facade, behind which we intend to build in this country a modern technologically efficient nation, not only capable of maintaining its present standard of living, which is based on the modest demands of previous Governments, but able to support the sort of standard of living that hon. Members on this side of the House want to see for all our people.

It is impossible to talk about producing the social services which we believe in or about raising the economic standard of our people, unless we can make this country economically potent. It will take some time. It is a long-term process. The debate which my hon. Friend has initiated this afternoon, although inevitably short, has dealt with the sort of issue which is primarily concerned with this problem. I hope that we will have further discussions of issues of this type, based not on any difference between the parties—because we are all involved in this—but on an attempt to find out what went wrong with our economy in the years before, and why it was that the opening sentences of the Feilden Report were directed to the seriousness of this country's trading position in engineering, in relation to other countries, and our diminishing share of international trade.

We have argued this in the General Election. We were of the opinion that hon. Members opposite bore some responsibility for it because, after all, they were in power for 13 years. They replied—and it was fair enough, because it was during an election—that although they were in power for 13 years they had not really been in a position to control the economy. The problems which we are now trying to solve are mentioned in the Feilden Report, and that Report also sets out some of the things that we have to do to meet the problems. This afternoon's debate has put the spotlight, for a short time, on a section of our industrial and economic life which in the past has received far toéo little attention.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That this House, having regard to the observations of the Feilden Report on Engineering Design that Great Britain's share of international trade in engineering goods has been declining, and that in spite of some notable successes, too many British products are being outclassed in performance, reliability and sales appeal, and that imports of machinery have been increasing, urges Her Majesty's Government to encourage the implementation of the report and particularly those recommendations concerning the need to increase the prestige of design, the status of designers and the need for adequate training, with the objective of strengthening our economy.