HC Deb 17 August 1916 vol 85 cc2040-1

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware of the congestion which, although it was inevitable at the commencement of the War, still continues to hamper many of the departments in Woolwich Arsenal; whether his attention has been drawn to the difficulties and delays in the production of certain munitions of war both inside the Arsenal and outside owing to the increasing congestion in the drawing and other departments; if, with only a slightly increased staff, the drawing de partment, which before the War was con sidered to be working satisfactorily if it turned out some 10,000 or 12,000 drawings in a year, is now expected to turn out as many as 25,000 to 30,000 drawings in a month; and whether this continuation of congestion still accounts for urgently required drawings being sometimes de layed for from eight to ten weeks, to the detriment of our prompt equipment as-well as to economy in production?


I am aware that a certain amount of congestion and delay existed some months back. The number of people employed on the reproduction of drawings has been greatly increased, and and no very serious delays are now experienced. By the end of this month new buildings and plant will. I hope, be completed, which will further improve the conditions under which this work is done. The output of drawings has risen from 17,000 in January, 1916, to 35,000 in July.


asked the Secretary of State for War if, now that the building and equipment of the new munition factories have already assumed such satisfactory proportions, the Army Council will now take into con sideration the necessity for a thorough and business-like reorganisation of the Arsenal at Woolwich, so that by the removal of congestion its former efficiency may be maintained; and whether, in the interest of the prompt and economical production of munitions, the Army Council will consider the desirability of disentangling some of the departments and workshops and, if practicable, of removing the manufacture of certain classes of munitions to new factories or arsenals further removed from the zone of Zeppelin activity, and at the same time of transferring vacated shops to those other departments which are most in need of expansion at Woolwich?


Taking into consideration the circumstances of pressure and expansion that necessarily prevail, I am not prepared to admit that Woolwich efficiency has not been fully maintained. On the contrary, a special inquiry was held recently by an expert, and the result showed a most gratifying increase, both in output and efficiency. In regard to the second part of the question, some detailed rearrangements may quite likely prove necessary, and, if so, they will be duly considered whenever this is practicable without risk of loss of output or disorganisation.