HC Deb 28 February 1967 vol 742 cc53-6W
Mr. Fortescue

asked the Minister of Technology what action has been taken to implement the recommendations of the Fielden Report on Engineering Design; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Benn

This Committee reported in June, 1963 and made 14 recommendations for implementation, as appropriate, by industry, the engineering institutions, establishments of higher education and Government. Following is a summary of action taken in implementing these recommendations:

Recommendation (1) To impress upon the managements of engineering businesses the vital importance of the design function in engineering activity and the need to encourage more talented engineers to make their careers in design. A series of regional conferences on engineering design were arranged during 1964 by the Federation of British Industries and the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. These conferences were followed up by the issue of booklets by the DSIR and Ministry of Technology on the importance of good design in engineering products. This theme was prominent at the International Design Congress held in October, 1966 by the Council of Industrial Design. This year, for the first time, the Council's awards scheme for good design is being extended to capital goods, and the Ministry of Technology is collaborating with the Council in the preparation of a booklet for management to follow up the announcement of the awards in May.

Recommendation (2) To use all available means, especially television, to draw attention to the great importance of engineering in the national economy and to the urgent need for more able people to train as professional engineers and to make their careers as designers. The D.S.I.R. and subsequently the Ministry of Technology have provided material for many conferences and exhibitions on engineering design. The Department of Education and Science have been organising a touring exhibition entitled "Technology today" which has been visiting schools throughout the country since the end of 1965. Concurrent lectures have been arranged by the Council of Engineering Institutions. In October/November, 1965, the Ministry of Technology and the Council of Industrial Design presented a joint exhibition entitled "Design in Engineering". At the end of last year the Ministry sponsored the Engineers' Day exhibition with the aim of bringing home to young people the attractions of engineering as a career. The exhibition was attended by over 177,000 people. The Ministry is contributing increasingly to television and radio programmes on engineering subjects, and the B.B.C. and I.T.A. have been very co-operative in increasing the time available. Several relevant films have also been produced.

Recommendation (3) To increase the prestige of design and the status of designers within the engineering profession and, where necessary, to amend the membership requirements of the Professional Institutions to give more prominence to design qualifications. The Ministry of Technology works closely with the Council of the Engineering Institutions in its efforts to raise the status of the engineering profession as a whole, including engineering designers. After 1973 the academic standard required by the constituent institutions for the professional qualifications of "Chartered Engineers" will be of degree standard.

Recommendation (4) To encourage and co-ordinate experiments in methods of teaching design at undergraduate and postgraduate level in universities and colleges and in industry. The Science Research Council has continued to award grants for studies of the design process. Several conferences and courses have been successfully run on the teaching of engineering design.

Recommendation (5) To reorganise the practical training of professional engineers to include more emphasis on modern production methods works organisation, costs and the influence of design; and to bring about a closer integration of the practical and academic elements of education. A Committee on Manpower Resources Working Party chaired by Mr. G. S. Bosworth published its first report in July, 1966, on "Education and Training Requirements for the Electrical and Mechanical Manufacturing Industries". A one-day conference on "Making the Bosworth Report Work", sponsored jointly by the Department and CEI is to be held on 6th March, 1967. Feasibility studies have been undertaken and efforts are under way to set up appropriate courses.

Recommendation (6) To ensure that draughtsmen and technicians who are concerned with detail design are given an adequate understanding of the principles involved. Ways of introducing elements of engineering design into certain National Certificate and Diploma courses in engineering are under consideration by the Department of Education and Science.

Recommendation (7) To ensure that in the implementation of the scheme for industrial training described in the White Paper 'Industrial Training: Government Proposals (Cmnd. 1892)' the industrial training of professional engineers and technicians as well as of skilled craftsmen will be included as soon as possible. The Engineering Industry Training Board set up under the Industrial Training Act, 1964 raises a levy from the industry which reflects the total net cost of training and redistributes the funds as an encouragement to efficient and necessary training. This Board has set up a Technologist Training Policy Committee to prepare a manual on the training of professional engineers in industry.

Recommendation (8) To establish institutes at suitable universities and colleges for advanced studies in particular fields of design in close association with industry; and to establish a higher degree in engineering design. The University of Loughborough has set up a centre for engineering design for graduate engineers, and a one year post-graduate course in engineering design methods has been started at Cambridge University. The first of the Institutes recommended by the report has been established at the National Engineering Laboratory at East Kilbride. It will deal with Advanced Machine Tools and Control Technology.

Recommendation (9) To encourage the further mechanisation of draughting procedures using computer and other techniques so as to increase the productivity of designers. The Ministry of Technology and Science Research Council have placed a number of contracts to further the development of computer aided design. The National Engineering Laboratory is building up its effort in this important field.

Recommendation (10) To use development contracts to encourage the creation of design teams of high qualify. Specific design contracts have been awarded to a number of organisations known to have design skill; in particular good progress has been made in the Advanced Computer Techniques Project, one of whose aims is to encourage advanced design in the computer field.

Recommendation (11) To use Government and public authority purchasing procedures to insist upon the highest possible standards of engineering design in the supplies and equipment produced for use in the armed services, civil establishments and the public sector of industry. Government Departments are expected to give proper weight to good design in their purchasing procedures.

Recommendation (12) To encourage the Professional Institutions by means of grants from public funds to prepare and issue design manuals, or 'data sheets' similar to those already prepared by the Royal Aeronautical Society. Contracts have been placed by the Ministry of Technology with the Institutions of Mechanical and Chemical Engineers for the production of design data sheets. Further proposals for similar contracts with professional engineering institutions are under consideration.

Recommendation (13) To ensure that British Standards always encourage and never inhibit good design practice. An increased grant was made available for 1966–67 to the British Standards Institution. This and a special grant for financing additional work on the preparation of metric standards have enabled the Institution to recruit further mechanical staff as recommended by the Feilden Committee.

Recommendation (14) To collect and publish information on the income and expenditure incurred under licence agreements between British and foreign firms so that the value of this trade can be assessed. The Board of Trade has, since the publication of the Feilden Report, conducted a special inquiry into royalty payments and receipts, including those for manufacturing rights and technical know-how. The results of the first annual survey were published in the Board of Trade Journal on 29th July, 1966.