§ MR. LUNDON (Limerick, E.)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that civil clerks and civil labourers in the Army Ordnance Department at Dublin are being discharged to make room for soldier clerks and soldier labourers of the Army Ordnance Corps, and that the military labour is a heavier charge against the public; and whether, seeing that civil labourers at wages of 18s. a week are employed as clerks in the offices owing to pressure of work, he, will explain why these discharges are taking place; can he state the annual cost of military administration and military supervision in this department in Ireland; and will he consider the advisability of working this department on a more economical and efficient basis as a purely civil department.
§ MR. HALDANE
The hon. Member is under a misapprehension in thinking that discharges of civilians employed in the Army Ordnance Department in Dublin are already taking place. It is true, however, that, in view of the requirements of mobilisation and administration, it has been decided to replace soldiers of the Army Ordnance Corps by civilians at certain stations abroad, bringing the soldiers back to home stations. 1174 This will involve the discharge of a certain number of civilian employees, but the number to be discharged at Dublin will be small. The annual cost of the Army Ordnance Department and Corps in the Irish Command is about £36,500. It would not conduce to economy or efficiency to attempt to work the Ordnance services of the Army on a purely civilian basis, as it is essential for mobilisation to maintain the strength of the military establishment and to train the soldiers of the Army Ordnance Corps in peace for the duties they would have to perform in war.