§ MR. KEIR HARDIE (Merthyr Tydvil)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether in view of the quantity of costly machinery now lying idle or only partially employed at Woolwich Arsenal, he will consider the advisability of appointing a small committee of experts to report on how far the machinery could be utilised in the production of articles of peace needed by Departments of the Government, other than the War Office; and whether much of the waste material might be turned to profitable account in various departments, especially the wood department.
§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if there is not also a large quantity of costly machinery now lying idle or almost idle in private factories throughout the country, and if, in consequence, a large number of men not less worthy than those of Woolwich Arsensal are out of work?
§ MR. HALDANE
I am afraid I cannot succumb to the temptations held out by either of the hon. Gentlemen. I do 744 not think that any useful result would come from the appointment of such a committee. The question is a broad one of principle, whether it is desirable that the Government should attempt the general business of manufacture of articles which can easily and at all times be obtained from the trade. I am not prepared to undertake the financial risk of such an enterprise.