§ Mr. Benn
I am assuming that the hon. Member has in mind either the numerically controlled machine tools trial period scheme which the N.R.D.C. is undertaking on behalf of my Department, or my Department's preproduction order scheme. Under the former users purchase the machines from the manufacturers, but have the option to return them within two years after installation for the payment of a small premium and a fixed charge for each month for which the machine has been used. Under the latter scheme, which is not confined to numerically controlled machine tools, five contracts for advanced machines have been placed by my Department to the value of about £350,000. One of these contracts, worth £160,000, is for a numerically controlled lathe. Machine tools and equipment purchased by my Department under these contracts will be placed with selected users for economic and technical appraisal under suitable conditions. The information derived from the appraisals will be made widely available to British industry.