asked the Minister of Production whether he is aware of the shortage of tools and equipment for machine tools; and what steps he is taking to switch over the production of surplus machine tools to the production of these much-needed accessories?
I am not aware of any general shortage of tools and equipment for machine tools. There is, of course, a tendency on the part of contractors to specify a more lavish provision of fittings and tools than is necessary. Over ordering of this kind is obviously liable to cause shortages, and the Machine Tool Control is organised so that all possible steps are taken to check the tendency. As I assured the hon. Member in reply to his Question on 17th February, where it becomes advantageous to switch capacity for making machine tools to the production of tools and equipment, this course is followed.
Can my right hon. Friend explain how it is that he is not aware of a shortage of these tools when in point of fact some manufacturers are completely snowed under with orders for them, and that in the case of one very essential tool, there is a waiting list of over six months? Can he explain why it is that the knowledge of the situation in his Department is so different from the appreciation of the situation in the country?
If my hon. Friend will give me particulars of this case, I shall be glad to look into it. There is no general shortage of tools or machine tools equipment.
Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied with the machine tool position in the shipbuilding industry?
That is another question.
Could I have an answer to my Supplementary Question? I want to know if the Minister is satisfied with the machine tool position in the shipbuilding industry.
That is quite a different question. If my hon. Friend will put it down, I shall be glad to give him an answer.
Am I to take it that we do not use machine tools in the shipbuilding industry?