HC Deb 03 May 1916 vol 82 cc22-3
26. Mr. HOHLER

asked the Minister of Munitions if he is aware that the building resources of the Chatham Dockyard have not been used to the utmost of their capacity for producing what are in one sense or another ships that are absolutely necessary for naval purposes; that in the month of February last, after previous complaints, the Kent local labour advisory board sent a report to Mr. Mosses, of the National Union, in regard to the slackness of work prevailing at Chatham, both in regard to the machinery and shops that were idle, or largely idle, and to the desire of the mechanics for more work, munitions or otherwise; that, in the face of complaints as to the existence of these conditions, both in Parliament and to the Admiralty, this slackness still continues; will he at once take steps to utilise the nation's machinery and the offer of the men in the production of munitions; and, failing this, will he say whether the Admiralty place difficulties in the way?


I have been asked to answer this question. I am aware of the report to which my hon. and learned Friend refers, which has been communicated to us. Further, my hon. and learned Friend has himself discussed with us very fully the questions raised in that report. He is, of course, aware that the national interests must be supreme in all these matters. I ought to add that my right hon. Friends the Minister of Munitions and the First Lord are in complete accord as to the necessity of maintaining the fullest co-operation between the Admiralty and the Ministry of Munitions, so as to ensure the best possible utilisation of men and machinery for the production of ships and other munitions of war.


Will the right hon. Gentleman at once take steps to utilise to the full extent Chatham Dockyard?


As I have said, in all these matters the national interests must be supreme; but, looking at the list to-day, I see that in the week ending 5th April the amount paid for overtime in this yard represented over 33 per cent. above the ordinary time rates.