HC Deb 11 April 1967 vol 744 cc952-3
13. Sir H. Legge-Bourke

asked the Minister of Technology if he will make a statement on the promotion of new technology in the production engineering industries; and what measure of improved efficiency he aims to achieve thereby.

Mr. Benn

I have recently launched a production engineering advisory service to help engineering firms to reduce manufacturing costs by the use of new and improved production methods. The immediate aim is to try to raise the standard of productive efficiency throughout the engineering industry to the level achieved by the best firms.

Sir H. Legge-Bourke

Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that the Production Engineering Research Association has done very considerable pioneering work in taking round demonstration vans to various parts of the industry? Are we now to understand that the Ministry of Technology is backing this project; and, if so, to what extent financially?

Mr. Benn

We are indeed entirely responsible for this project. One million pounds has been made available to P.E.R.A. to perform this service on our behalf. It was because of the Association's great success on this thing that we thought it wise to let it do this job as agent for us.

Mr. Maxwell

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the real obstacle to bringing about an increase in productivity in the engineering industry is that the new technology is not disseminated to the industry in a form in which it can use it to increase productivity? What is his Department now doing to improve that?

Mr. Benn

That is one of the many obstacles to higher productivity, but I think that my hon. Friend is oversimplifying matters if he says that it is the only one. In fact there are a number, including the need for better management.