§ 5. Mr. Gwilym Roberts
asked the Minister of Technology what percentages of machine tools manufactured in Great Britain were numerically controlled in 1965; what are the estimates for 1970; and what steps he is taking to accelerate the conversion from conventional to numerical control.
§ The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Technology (Dr. Jeremy Bray)
In the 12 months ending in September, 1966, the proportion was 0.36 per cent. by number, and 2.5 per cent. by value. These proportions are increasing, but it is not possible to make an accurate forecast for 1970. The Department's preproduction order and "trial period" scheme should increase demand.
§ Mr. Roberts
Would not my hon. Friend agree that there is a very close correlation between the spreading of numerically controlled machine tool 1239 manufacture and the whole process of re-equipping and modernising industry? Is he aware that in the United States this is expanding by 10 per cent. to 15 per cent. per year, and that it is estimated that by 1970, 70 per cent. to 80 per cent. of the total will be numerically controlled, and that similar growth is being made in many other industrial countries?
§ Dr. Bray
I am aware of the importance of numerically controlled machine tools, both in their production and getting them in use in workshops, and in making sure that engineering design is modified to take advantage of numerically controlled techniques. We are encouraging their use over the whole range of manufacturing.
§ 27. Mr. Biffen
asked the Minister of Technology what is the percentage change in the recorded value of net new home orders for machine tools during January-November, 1966, compared with the corresponding figure for 1965; what is the percentage change after allowing for inflation during this period; how these changes compare with the targets or forecasts contained in the National Plan; and if he will make a statement.
§ Dr. Bray
Recorded orders were 6 per cent. lower in 1966. It is not possible to calculate what exact allowance for higher prices can be made in the value of orders.
The annual rate of growth of output envisaged in the National Plan for the period 1964–70 was 7.8 per cent. As the Machine Tools E.D.C. has reported, the actual growth in output in 1965 was 11.9 per cent.
§ Mr. Biffen
Is not this decline of 6 per cent. as compared with the promise of steady growth at the rate of 7.8 per cent. an extraordinarily pathetic performance? What does the hon. Gentleman expect may be the pattern to emerge during this year?