§ Mr. Biffen
asked the Minister of Technology if he will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT the advice he offers to public sector purchasers of computers regarding the price advantage which they should accord to machines produced by British manufacturers, as opposed to imported machines or those produced in the United Kingdom by subsidiaries of foreign companies, where there is no significant technical dissimilarity between competing machines; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Benn
As regards Government purchasing, it is the policy of the Government that purchases of computers will be made from British firms whenever reasonably possible. Each case is, however, 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.
Of the 44 computers which have been ordered for Government adminstrative and scientific purposes since October, 1964, 33 have been British; 31 of 284W these were purchased because, taking all considerations into account, they were the most competitive and two were given a measure of preference.
This policy would not be operated in contravention of obligations under the E.F.T.A. Convention.