HC Deb 21 June 1972 vol 839 cc449-50
8. Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is his latest estimate of the value of orders placed with the United Kingdom machine tool industry by educational institutions under his control coming within the scope of the current temporary scheme for 100 per cent. Exchequer grants; and what has been the average cost per machine ordered.

Mr. Monro

At 16th June, 1972, 42 applications, involving some 150 items of equipment for further education colleges and central institutions, were being processed by my Department. The average cost per item applied for is about £2,900.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

Should not educational institutions be encouraged to use this scheme, which after all is financed entirely by the taxpayer, to equip themselves with machine tools of genuine industrial application? Surely it is not possible to obtain much more than a tiny machine for the sums my hon. Friend referred to in his answer. Should not educational institutions be encouraged now to buy sophisticated machine tools, preferably of Scottish manufacture?

Mr. Monro

I am glad that my hon. Friend has given publicity to this very worthwhile scheme. The more expensive machine tools are not ruled out. Applications are considered on their merits. So far the most expensive machine for which an application has been received is one costing £28,000.

Mr. Buchan

The Under-Secretary will be aware of last week's decision to run down by one-half one of our last machine tool factories—in Johnstone, Renfrewshire. If the Government are sidestepping on steel work, cannot the Under-secretary encourage his right hon. Friend at least to intervene in this situation to advance the buying of machine tools for all matters that are under his control?

Mr. Monro

The applications must come from the education authorities. I hope they will all bear in mind what hon. Members on both sides have said.