I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War if he will state what it costs to manufacture a Lee-Metford magazine rifle at Enfield, and what it costs at Sparkbrook, assuming that the same number and kind of Lee-Metford Magazine Rifle is ordered from each factory?
* MR. WOODALL
The productive power at Enfield is about three times as great as was that at Sparkbrook, and it is therefore not possible to give from practical experience the cost of producing an equal number of arms at each factory. Under ordinary circumstances the difference of cost is but fractional. For instance, the cost for the last three years of completed accounts was as follows:—1890–1, Enfield, £3 11s. 10¼d.; Birmingham, £3 14s. 5d.; 1891–2, Enfield, £3 11s.; Birmingham, £3 9s. 2d.; 1892–3, Enfield, £3 14s. 6½d.; Birmingham, £3 17s.4¼d.; and these fluctuations were due principally to the value of orders placed at each factory.
MR. JESSE COLLINGS (Birmingham, Bordesley)
Is there not information at the War Office to the effect that the rifles made at Sparkbrook cost 2s. 6d. less than those made at Enfield in 1891, and if this is the case, would there not have been a saving of £11,000 of public money had all the rifles been made at Sparkbrook during that year?
I admit that in 1891–2 the rifles made at Sparkbrook cost Is. 10d. per arm less than those produced at Enfield; but, on the other hand, in the preceding and succeeding years the cost at Birmingham was higher than at Enfield.
MR. JESSE COLLINGS
And was not that increased cost due to the fact that the charges for plant, machinery, &c., were included in the reckoning against the rifles?
* MR. WOODALL
My right hon. Friend can easily satisfy himself on that account. The cost of producing the rifles includes actual expenditure, wages, material, depreciation on buildings and 1581 plant, establishment charges, and amortisement of machinery erected for the special purpose of manufacturing the rifle.