HC Deb 01 May 1995 vol 259 cc18-9
33. Mr. John Marshall

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what plans he has to meet the Institute of Civil Engineering to discuss the role of engineering. [20153]

Mr. Horam

In the last year my senior officials met engineering bodies on six occasions. I look forward to continuing this close relationship.

Mr. Marshall

In view of the importance of engineering to the economy, can my hon. Friend state that a Minister as well as officials will meet officials of the industry in future?

Mr. Horam

Absolutely. My right hon. Friend met engineering institutions three times in January, four times in February and three times in March. I have also met many engineers at all levels of—

Madam Speaker

Order. I would be much obliged if the Minister would use the microphone not only so that we can hear him but so that I can see him.

Mr. Horam

I was turning away, perhaps out of excessive politeness, to deal with my hon. Friend's question.

The results of yesterday's race at Imola, which Damon Hill won, and the fact that no fewer than nine of the 10 Grand Prix cars used were British-built by British engineering, shows the quality engineering that we have in Britain, which we should support.

Mrs. Dunwoody

Would the Minister like to astonish himself on one of the occasions when he or his newly found colleagues address the engineering institutions by recommending some way in which new jobs can be created in engineering so that we might begin to get back to the state in which we compete as engineers and do not have to import other people's goods?

Mr. Horam

I am afraid that the hon. Lady is behind the times. Manufacturing in this country has strengthened considerably in the past few years, particularly in vehicle manufacture, which she knows all about in her constituency. Engineering in Britain is on a high now. That is partly as a result of the interest of the Government and partly as a result of the inward investment that the Government have successfully encouraged in the past five or 10 years. The hon. Lady should come up to date.

Mr. Brandreth

Will my hon. Friend confirm that, as from next year, technology will be part of the national curriculum for all young people from five to 16 and that over the next three years the Government are committed to putting in an additional £10 million to top up bursaries for top-flight undergraduates studying technology?

Mr. Horam

Yes. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for those facts. The Royal Academy of Engineering is getting another £400,000 this year, which will bring up to £2.6 million the contribution that we are making to that body. As a result of science being in the school curriculum for the first time on a comprehensive basis, about 1.6 million pupils are now taking science subjects at GCSE level. That is more than double the figure of five years ago and is the result of the first group of children coming through the new science curriculum.