HC Deb 11 April 1967 vol 744 cc943-4
3. Mr. Biffen

asked the Minister of Technology if he will make a statement on the expected demand for machine tools and profitability of the machine tool industry during the next 12 months.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Technology (Dr. Jeremy Bray)

No detailed forecasts are made. It is likely that the demand for machine tools over the next 12 months will be slightly lower than during the last 12 months.

Mr. Biffen

Is not the Parliamentary Secretary aware that a very large number of major British machine tool manufacturers are very concerned about the prospects for their profitability, and would he take this fact very much to heart?

Dr. Bray

Yes, certainly, Mr. Speaker. The matter of vital importance is that the machine tool industry should maintain its plans for expansion. I am glad to say that the plans are being maintained, and that the prospective rate of expansion is well over the National Plan target.

Mr. Woodnutt

Would the hon. Gentleman agree that it would help the home market for British machine tools if the Royal Ordnance factories and other Service Departments were instructed to buy British machine tools wherever available instead of buying foreign?

Dr. Bray

That is already the case.

Mr. Hector Hughes

As to machine tools, will the Minister consult the President of the Board of Trade with a view to seeing that north-east Scotland gets its share of the forthcoming orders contemplated in this Question?

Dr. Bray

North-east Scotland is never forgotten.

Sir H. Legge-Bourke

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that there is a very serious discrepancy between the figures on the order book states of the machine tool trade associations as distinct from those of the Board of Trade? Will he see that we can get a closer approximation of these two figures?

Dr. Bray

Yes, certainly. I will do my best to do that.