§ MR. J. GRETTON (Derbyshire, S)
I beg to ask the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether 1524 £1,000 was recently expended in the Royal Laboratory upon an attempt to produce a new type of machine gun which resulted in failure; if he can state who it was who authorised this expenditure in a factory which has no experience in the manufacture of machine guns or work of a similar nature; and if the experiment was conducted at the Royal Laboratory because the Enfield factory has been for more than two years without any professional head qualified to superintend the manufacture of a new weapon?
MR. POWELL WILLIAMS
About £1,000 was expended out of moneys voted for the purposes of experiment in an attempt to produce at the Royal Laboratory a new machinegun. The gun was not a failure, but it was abandoned because a still more promising weapon was invented by a private firm. The gun in question was devised by a member of the mechanical staff of the Royal Laboratory, and its manufacture in that factory was sanctioned, as I think rightly, by my predecessor, the hon. Member for Hanley, in order that its inventor might superintend the process. The Royal Laboratory has, perhaps, unrivalled experience as respects this class of gun, and there was no vacancy in the office of Superintendent at Enfield when the experimental manufacture of this gun commenced in 1894.