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Manufacturing Technology (Advisory Service)

Volume 931: debated on Wednesday 4 May 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Industry what steps he intends to take under the industrial strategy to encourage manufacturing industry to use the best modern technology in order to improve its performance and productivity.

My Department is setting up a Manufacturing Advisory Service to make available specialist technological advice to smaller and medium-sized firms—i.e., those with between about 100 and 1,000 employees—in manufacturing industry. This service is intended mainly for those engaged in metal working and assembly, which are activities common to many industrial sectors, but a few schemes for specific sectors may be included. Advice will be offered on proven techniques, equipment and associated technological management practices. The advisory functions will be carried out by appropriate specialists from industry research associations, consultants, universities or Government research establishments. The service will be co-ordinated on behalf of the Department by the Production Engineering Research Association. It will start on a modest scale, aiming to cover some 700 firms in the first two years, at an estimated cost of £1·75 million. After review it may be extended. To advise me in developing the service I intend to appoint a steering committee with an industrialist as chairman. Names will be announced later.