§ MR. WOODALL (Hanley)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War for what reason it has been thought desirable to introduce Mark II. of the magazine rifle; and if he could state the cost of the rifle as compared with that of the Martini-Henry at similar stages of its production?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. E. STANHOPE, Lincolnshire, Horncastle)
I explained very fully yesterday, in answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Horsham, the reasons why Mark II. has been introduced. The cost of the Martini-Henry rifle was, of course, high at first, but in the first year in which it was extensively made it was £3 18s. 4d., which sum, as the manufacture went on, was gradually reduced to £2 2s. 10d., neither price including any charge for the special machinery required. The price of the magazine rifle for the small number at first produced was £5 5s., but the estimated cost for the current year is £4, which includes a Sinking Fund calculated to pay for the necessary alteration of machinery in six years. This price was for Mark I.; Mark II. will probably cost a trifle less, and it may be anticipated that the charge will decrease as the manufacture proceeds, as it did in the case of the Martini-Henry. In this comparison allowance ought to be made for the 649 facts that wages have increased and hours of labour been shortened since the Martini-Henry rifle was first turned out.