HC Deb 28 March 1984 vol 57 cc284-5
13. Mr. Chapman

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will report progress in his campaign regarding the importance of design in products.

Mr. Butcher

Yes, Sir. The Government continue to give priority to their campaign to encourage a greater awareness in British industry and commerce of the value of good design, as is clear from the announcement made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on 19 March. I shall announce further initiatives when I have completed my review of design activity.

Mr. Chapman

Can my hon. Friend give the House some idea of the take-up rate for the design advisory service-funded consultancy scheme? I appreciate that it may be too early to form a considered judgment, but is there evidence that my hon. Friend's initiatives, which I applaud, have already had a beneficial impact on product design?

Mr. Butcher

Since the design for profit campaign was started — it has now been concluded — the rate of application for help under the design advisory service-funded consultancy scheme has trebled. About 1,400 applications have either been completed or are in the process of being completed. According to our assessment of the scheme's efficacy, most of the applicants say that they are highly satisfied with the results.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Is it not true that the number of industrial design student places at faculties of industrial design in polytechnics and universities has been cut since 1979?

Mr. Butcher

That question arises from the national advisory board exercise, to which no doubt the hon. Gentleman is referring. That is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science. Some aspects of our consideration of additions to the design policy will affect the education service, schools, and further and higher education.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

I warmly welcome the announcements by the Secretary of State about the textile, clothing, footwear and allied industries, related to design. Will my hon. Friend be more forthcoming about the aid that the Government intend to give to the textile and clothing industry with the promotion of design, which has made great advances in recent years? Will my hon. Friend deal at greater length with the valid question raised by the hon. Member for Workington(Mr. Campbell-Savours), which covered the problem that has been created by the reductions in design departments in our colleges of further education, polytechnics and universities?

Mr. Butcher

A major part of my hon. Friend's question was met by comments made by my hon. Friend the Minister of State in an earlier question. As I said, the new appraisal of design policy will take those issues into account. Thus far my Department has committed resources to curriculum development in design for things such as design management at schools level and FE and HE levels. Of course an improvement must be made. I cannot tell my hon. Friend how we shall go about making that improvement.

Mr. Williams

Is not the high priority for design that the Minister states he gives to it a comdemnation of the fact that in the past few years the Government have systematically cut back in training for design, as my hon. Friend the Member for Workington(Mr. Campbell-Savours) said?

Mr. Butcher

British industry's use of our domestic design talent matters most of all. We could make better use of that national resource, which is as strong as the resource of North sea oil, if British designers working for British companies were making products manufactured in the United Kingdom. That is part of our initiative and a means of maximising our resource in that area.