§ Mr. Leslie Huckfield
asked the Minister of Technology what amounts of financial assistance his Department is making available to the machine tool industry through the National Development and Research Corporation and the machine tool loans scheme; and whether he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Benn
My Ministry has made£1 million available to support sales under the Trial Period Scheme for Numerically Controlled Machine Tools operated by the National Research Development Corporation on behalf of the Ministry, and a total of£6 million has been allocated for preproduction orders of advanced machine tools.
Under the first scheme suppliers of N.C. machine tools enter into agreements with N.R.D.C. under which they can offer the machines to purchasers on try it and see terms. The purchaser pays for the machine plus a premium of 2 per cent., which gives him the right, if he is not satisfied, to return the machine within two years. In that event he will be repaid an agreed repurchase price according to the period he has had the machine on trial.
Under the second scheme the Ministry places contracts for preproduction models of machine tools or associated equipment of new and advanced design. This scheme is designed to close the gap that exists between development and full-scale production. These machines are placed with suitable users for appraisal under intensive industrial conditions and reports on their economic and technical performance are submitted to the Ministry. The information thus arising will be disseminated widely as a guide to other prospective users.