§ Mr. Atkinson
asked the Minister of Technology what progress has been made on his Department's scheme for placing pre-production orders for advanced machine tools.
§ Mr. Benn
Six orders have been placed by my Department to the value of about £½ million over the past 5 months, and further orders are under negotiation.
I propose to expand this scheme rapidly by making an additional £5 million available for a limited period for the purchase of genuinely new models of machine tools offering a significant improvement in overall performance over existing machines. By placing orders quickly I hope not merely to speed the introduction into use of efficient modern machines, but also to help the machine tool industry at this time, when orders are needed. Machine tool firms should therefore make applications for orders to my Department within the next 6 months.