HC Deb 31 March 1914 vol 60 cc1003-4
17. Mr. NEWMAN

asked the Secretary for War whether he is aware of the hardship involved in the recent reductions in ratings which have had recently to be enforced at the Small Arms Factory, Enfield, owing to improved processes of manufacture and the consequent reduction in the number of workmen for whom work is available, and also to the lack of new work coming forward; and whether the War Office will consider whether the manufacture of articles other than those designed for the arming of troops could be profitably undertaken?


I am informed that about twenty men have recently been transferred from one part of the factory to another owing to improvements in processes. Some of these have suffered a reduction in rating. No hardship is known to have been caused through lack of work. It is not proposed to undertake in the Ordnance Factories the manufacture of articles not required by the Admiralty or the War Office.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that quite recently the War Office paid £120,000 for the purchase of chassis abroad?


That does not arise out of the question on the Paper.

18. Mr. NEWMAN

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, under present regulations, an employé is liable to be discharged, though capable of work, from the Small Arms Factory on reaching the age of sixty, with a gratuity which represents on an average but six months of the salary he was earning; whether the Treasury have put repeated difficulties for twenty years to any contributory scheme of pension put forward by the employés; and whether he will inquire as to the terms of pension and gratuity on retirement now, in existence in other large firms such as Vickers-Maxim and Harrods?


Employés are liable to be discharged at the age of sixty, with the gratuities provided by the Superannuation Acts, but thoroughly efficient workmen may be kept on till sixty-five. A contributory scheme of pension has been under consideration in the War Office—not the Treasury—for some time. The delay has been due to defects in the schemes put forward on behalf of the workmen, which were found upon actuarial examination to be unsound, but I hope that this difficulty has now been surmounted. In the circumstances, I do not think the inquiries suggested would be likely to be of use.


As regards the question of superannuation—the hon. Member knows to What I am alluding—is there any prospect of that being settled before Whitsuntide?


I should not like to answer that in the affirmative.