HC Deb 09 December 1969 vol 793 cc86-8W
Mr. Leslie Huckfield

(1) asked the Minister of Technology what plans he has for amending computer installation and purchasing procedures in the public sector, following representations by the industry concerning the obtaining of equipment for L.A.C.E.S. at London Airport;

(2) asked the Minister for the Civil Service what directions, recommendations and advice on the need to purchase or lease British-made computer hardware and software equipment have been given to Government Departments, nationalised industries and local authorities; and whether he will make a statement.

Dr. Ernest A. Davies

I have been asked to reply to the Question addressed to my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Civil Service.

As regards Government purchasing, it remains the policy of the Government that purchases of computers will be made from British firms whenever reasonably possible. Each case is considered on its merits, price being only one of the many factors which have to be taken into account. No directive has been given to other public authorities, but they have been invited to take into account the desirability of supporting British industry. Machines made in Britain by subsidiaries of foreign firms are regarded in this context as British.

The computer advisory service provides objective advice and assistance on computer requirements in the public sector, and it draws attention to the merits of British computers where these are being overlooked. We have no proposal to change these arrangements: the choice of equipment for the L.A.C.E.S. project was a matter for the then Postmaster-General.

Mr. Leslie Huckfield

asked the Minister of Technology (1) what plans he has for the extension of investment grants and other financial assistance to further sections of the computer industry, in software and hardware; and whether he will make a statement;

(2) what plans he has for further financial support for British-made software and timesharing systems for the computer industry other than International Computers Limited.

Dr. Ernest A. Davies

The application of the investment grant scheme to the rapidly changing technology of the computer field is kept under continuous review but we have no plans for the extension of grants to further sections of the industry at present. We are not at present proposing to launch new schemes for other financial assistance to computer hardware or software companies but we shall continue to support worthwhile projects for software and hardware development, including software for multi-access systems, with both British software houses and computer manufacturers.

Hospital Management Committee Hospital Acreage
Harlow Group Epping and District Cottage 0.350
Ongar War Memorial 1.760
St. Margaret's Epping 25.400
Waltham Abbey War Memorial 0.962
Honey Lane, Waltham Abbey 33.100
Princess Alexandra, Harlow 29.200
Bishop's Stortford and District 2.949
East Herts 5.877
Herts. and Essex General 22.070
Hertford County, Hertford 7.807
Ware Park, Ware 100.457
Western House, Ware-Joint user with local authority
Enfield Group North Middlesex, N. 18 22.000
Tower Maternity Annexe, N.2 2.000
Greentrees, N.13 6.585
St. David's, N.18 18.500
Chase Farm, Enfield 68.050
Cheshunt Cottage 0.960
Enfield War Memorial 1.510
St. Michael's, Enfield 8.300
Highlands, N.21 35.737
Tottenham Group Bearsted Memorial, N.16 4.935
St. Ann's General, Tottenham, N.15 27.500
Prince of Wales General, Tottenham, N.15 6.900

Mr. Leslie Huckfield

asked the Minister of Technology what representations asking for financial assistance he has received from British computer hardware and software firms and associations; what reply he has sent; and whether he will make a statement.

Dr. Ernest A. Davies

The Ministry in the normal course of its business of encouraging new developments in both hardware and software receives proposals from both British computer hardware and software firms. Where proposals are supported, this is usually on some mutually acceptable cost-sharing basis. From time to time over the past two years, representatives of the British software industry have suggested that they would welcome more contracts for software for computer systems in central Government, and we have told them that this is primarily a matter for the Civil Service Department and my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal.