HC Deb 11 January 1977 vol 923 cc468-9W
Mr. Kenneth Clarke

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what steps the Government are taking to encourage nationalised industries to develop long-term ordering programmes for plant and equipment and to align nationalised industry specifications with overseas requirements for similar plant and equipment.

Mr. Les Huckfield

In order to give the nationalised industries and their suppliers a longer time in which to plan and greater certainty about the level of future orders, the Government introduced in 1975 new procedures for approving the capital investment programmes of the nationalised industries. Under these procedures, the Government takes decisions on nationalised industry investment programmes in the summer of each year—in advance of the main public expenditure decisions—and approves a substantial proportion of their programmes for four years ahead instead of three.

Following discussion in the NEDC in December 1975, Sir Raymond Brown was invited to examine the scope for applying techniques used in the Defence Sales Agency to improve the exports by suppliers of plant and equipment to the major nationalised industries, in particular through the alignment of United Kingdom specifications with those required in world markets. His first report, on exports by the telecommunications suppliers to the Post Office, has recently been submitted to the NEDC and is now being considered by the Government. An assessment is also being made by him of the feasibility and practicability of applying the principles underlying the recommendations in this report to the other major nationalised industries.