HC Deb 27 August 1886 vol 308 cc661-2
MR. HOWAED VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)

asked the Surveyor General of Ordnance, What are the materials of war which Her Majesty's Government cannot obtain in this Country; if the ordinary demand for them in the future is likely to be sufficient to justify the erection of factories and machinery for their manufacture; and, further, if, in the contracts which at present are unavoidably placed with foreigners, any condition is or will be imposed as to the employment of British labour?


A list of the materials referred to will be found in a Return (No. 228 of June 24 last) obtained by the hon. Member for North Sligo (Mr. P. M'Donald). The principal items of the Return are gunpowder, Hotchkiss machine guns, swords, and compressed meat. As regards the first item, we have had hitherto to buy a particular kind of powder, known as cocoa powder, from German firms, who have now patented the article. Our contract with them expires March 31, 1887. Some English firms are endeavouring to produce this powder, and if they succeed we shall in future be in a position to deal with them as occasion offers. One of the German firms has already established a factory in England. As regards the Hotchkiss machine guns, arrangements have been made for their manufacture hereafter in this country. As regards swords, there is practically only one English firm that now manufactures them. They have a large contract on hand at present, as a new Cavalry sword has been approved, and is being manufactured; but the ordinary demand for swords is so small that the trade have nearly abandoned it in England. As respects compressed meat, we have to buy a large quantity of corned beef at Chicago; but we took, at the same time, all we could from Australia. The English compressed corn beef is much more costly than the American, the price of the raw material being so much higher. I hope the trade will develop in our Colonies. The answer to the last paragraph is in the negative; but I hope that the facts that a powder factory has been established in England and that the Hotchkiss gun will be henceforth made in this country will increase the demand for English labour.