§ Mr. Butcher
My Department continuously monitors developments in the machine tool industry. This sector has faced difficult trading conditions, largely due to the world recession, which has also affected many of its overseas competitors. Within the United Kingdom these problems have been most acute in the west midlands, where there is a high concentration of machine tool companies, but it is encouraging that, despite the contraction, the local products made by Alfred Herbert and Webster and Bennett remain in production.
The future of United Kingdom machine tool companies depends on their ability to compete effectively, and a number of companies in the Coventry area are receiving assistance to develop new products to improve competitiveness. It is hoped that companies engaged in manufacture of machine tools and associated components will benefit from the recently announced special push in the west midlands to encourage companies in the locality to develop new products for advanced manufacturing technology.