HC Deb 22 June 1915 vol 72 cc1034-6
38. Mr. LYNCH

asked the Minister of Munitions whether there exists any mechanical difficulty in fabricating in this country 3,000 aeroplanes of the latest models and best quality in six months; and, if so, whether he will have the question submitted to study without delay as to the most expeditious means of designing and setting up the necessary plant for the purpose?

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Mr. Tennant)

No good purpose would be served by giving orders on so large a scale for the production of aeroplanes at present. This is not a service which can be improvised in a hurry. Steady development has been in progress since the beginning of the War, and this development will continue as rapidly as possible. The training of pilots requires both time and care, and the hon. Gentleman may rest assured that the output both of machines and pilots is engaging constant attention. As the hon. Member is aware, the development of this area of the Service is a legitimate source of gratification to the country.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether by co-ordinating even now the efforts of private firms it would be possible without any additional plant to produce the number set forth in the question?


I do not really think it would, but it is one of those questions which will have to be very carefully gone into, and I think the Minister of Munitions will be the proper person to give the reply.


I propose to raise this question later on.


Is it not possible, as Zeppelin raids are becoming so frequent, especially on the North-East coast, to send by wireless to France a message that they are there, so that aeroplanes could come over to meet them on the way home?


That, of course, would be an admirable thing to do.

23. Mr. O'GRADY

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has received from the Leeds Trades and Labour Council a protest against the action of employers in ammunition factories keeping women and girls working seventy to eighty hours per week; whether in such protest mention is made of the action of Deputy Stipendiary Magistrate Mr. Horace Mershall refusing to convict in the case brought against Messrs. Greenwood and Batley, Limited, engineers, who admitted having contravened the Factory and Workshops Act by having in two cases kept girls working longer hours than were legally permissible, in one case a girl under eighteen years of age working from 6 a.m. on a Friday till 7 a.m. on a Saturday, when she met with an accident, in the other case allowing a woman to work from 6 a.m. on a Friday till 11 a.m. on a Saturday; whether, in view of the danger arising from such long hours of continuous labour, instructions will be issued that where and if it is necessary that day and night work shall continue the time worked shall be in two periods of twelve hours, inclusive of meal hours?


My right hon. Friend has received from the Leeds Trades Council a resolution referring to the case of Messrs. Greenwood and Batley. The circumstances of that case have already been dealt with in previous answers in this House. The hours worked by this firm were such as to be injurious alike to the health of the women and to the output of the necessary supplies; but these hours have been stopped, and I have no reason to think that such excessive hours have been worked by other employers in munition factories. I may add with reference to the last part of the question that where employment of women and girls on emergency work in night and day shifts is authorised by the Home Office, it is the practice to divide the time into two periods of twelve hours or three of eight hours, subject to any small adjustments that may be desired by the workers or required by the nature of the work.


Will that be issued as a general instruction in the case of the employment of girls who are engaged on double turns?


Yes; a Regulation is laid down by the Home Office where there is any departure from the ordinary Factory Acts.