HC Deb 26 April 1904 vol 133 cc1190-1

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War if he will state what the productive power is of the machinery now standing idle in Government workshops; if he will consider the possibility of arranging to keep all Government machinery at work before allotting work to contractors; and if he will state how many men have been discharged or suspended, and the number on short time, in consequence of orders being placed with contractors.


Taken as a whole the factories at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, are producing slightly over one-third of their possible output when fully employed in time of peace. The Waltham Gunpowder Factory is fully employed. As regards the Small Arms Factories I am not able to reply as the current year's orders will modify the existing conditions. As regards the general policy it is an established principle, well supported by the experience of recent years, to utilise the resources of the trade as well as those of the Government factories and to reserve for an emergency the full productive power of the latter; the policy advocated by the hon. Member would certainly involve us in a very dangerous situation during a great war. As regards the last part of the Question, since the 1st April, sixty-nine men have been discharged, 185 suspended, and seventeen men are working short time in the Gun Factory, but it is not possible to assign the reductions of particular individuals to the placing of orders with the trade.