§ MR. BELLAIRS (King's Lynn)
To ask the Secretary to the Admiralty, what was the average number of men employed per week in building the battleships "Dreadnought" and "Britannia" at Portsmouth since 1st October, 1905, and what number worked overtime in each case.
(Answered by Mr. Edmund Robertson.) The proportion of labour employed on the "Britannia" and "Dreadnought," respectively, since 1st October has been 1 to 2.01. Practically no overtime has been worked on the "Britannia," as the time originally fixed for her completion, and the consequent contractors' dates for supply of material, fittings, etc., rendered it unnecessary; but she is in advance of her time, and will probably be ready two months earlier than the official date originally fixed for her completion. No reason existed in the case of the "Britannia" (being the last ship of an approved type) for asking the contractors to anticipate their contract dates for delivery of material, or for their work on the ship, hence there was no necessity for special overtime; but in the case of the "Dreadnought," the first vessel of an entirely new and very novel type, the Board of Admiralty decided, in order to try her at sea as soon as possible, to use every effort for her completion with the utmost despatch. With that object a large number of men, about two-thirds of the labour, employed on such work as the riveting of the hull and preparing of the launching ways, etc., have been working overtime, with the result that the ship will be completed for sea in advance of her original date, and at less cost than anticipated. It is not proposed, nor will it be necessary to have recourse to any such special efforts in future vessels, but in the case of the "Dreadnought" it was essential, in the interests of the public service, to take steps for getting her quickly to sea; very satisfactory results have thus been obtained, both in economy of construction and in rapidity of completion. The "Dreadnought" will probably be ready for sea in about fifteen months from the date of laying the keel.