Mr. T. F. RICHARDS
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that men are being discharged from Portsmouth Dockyard, four on the 18th of the month and five on the 22nd, and that other men are working overtime their number ranging from 35 to 69, and not 25 only; whether he is aware that many men who were engaged last year, and who are working during the day on ordinary work, are put on special work after the ordinary working hours; whether he is aware that there are already many men capable of performing this class of work, known as torpedo-tube work, upon which some of the men have worked for periods ranging from 10 to 30 years; and whether he can recommend the Department to put more men on the tube and gauges, and thereby obviate the working of overtime and the discharging of men who may be required in the future?
§ Mr. McKENNA
Discharges are not now taking place. The four men discharged on the 18th, and the five men on the 22nd of last month, were included in the discharges referred to in answers to previous questions on this subject. As already stated, not more than 25 men are working overtime in the new factory, the average for the past ten days being slightly below that number. The answer to the second part of the question is in the negative. With regard to the third part of the question, all those capable are engaged on the work. The men discharged had all less than three years' service, and were not competent to undertake work of this character. In regard to the fourth part of the question, no additional men can be advantageously employed at present. Overtime was being worked in the Constructive Department on the preparation for the launch of the "Neptune," but this could not be avoided by any question of retention of men, as much of it was due to tidal considerations, and the remainder 1833 necessary to utilise the full capacity of air-compressing plant, which was being worked to its utmost for 24 hours per day.