HC Deb 28 March 1984 vol 57 c271
1. Mr. Geoffrey Robinson

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what funds remain unspent to date in his Department's flexible manufacturing systems scheme.

The Minister for Information Technology (Mr. Kenneth Baker)

Of the initial allocation of £35 million some £8 million remains uncommitted. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry announced last week, subject to clearance from the European Commission, a further £20 million for advanced manufacturing technology.

Mr. Robinson

I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. Although the figures are welcome, they are still relatively small compared to what needs to be spent to make British industry fully modernised and competitive. Therefore, will the Minister have another word with the Secretary of State and the Minister of State to see that the modernisation schemes are not excluded from the Cooperative Development Agency and Industrial Development Bill which we shall shortly be debating on Report, because the exclusion of those schemes from eligibility for regional aid will have a further, very damaging, impact on the type of modernisation which we know the Minister is most interested in promoting?

Mr. Baker

I shall consider the latter point. As to the amount, I emphasise that one has to multiply these figures by about four to get the value of the true investment. I do not agree that these are fairly small sums. They represent a substantial investment in advanced manufacturing technology, which is, after all, where Britain has to compete.