§ 20 and 116. General CROFT
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) whether samples of concrete captured in the Ypres area have been analysed by experts; and, if so, whether such concrete is made from cement of a higher quality than that produced in Belgium; and (2) the President of the Board of Trade whether Belgian cement is of an inferior quality to British cement and is unsuitable for ferro-concrete work; whether for reinforced concrete work such as is used in pill-boxes and other fortifications only the higher grade of cement is of use against modern artillery; and whether he has information as to the extra high quality of the concrete work in German pill-boxes which have recently been captured in the Ypres area?
§ Lord R. CECIL
I have made inquiries, and am informed that, as the result of tests and analyses of numerous samples from different factories, the artificial Portland cement manufactured in Belgium is quite equal in quality to the average English product, and equally suitable for making concrete for fortification purposes. There seems no doubt that cement of German and Belgian manufacture is used for the construction of German pill-boxes and other fortifications. In the first place a paper cement sack has been picked up on the field of battle which from the lettering stamped on it clearly comes from Hanover, and in the second the metal label referred to in a letter by Captain Hewetson to the newspapers proves on examination to be from a Belgian factory. On one side it has the words " Cannon Brand Artificial Portland "; on the other, " Burcht, Antwerp." This indicates, I am told, that it comes from the Cannon Brand Artificial Portland Cement Works, of Burght les Anvers, a well-known Belgian 1989 cement factory, which was taken over by the German Government before March, 1916. On the other hand, no evidence has yet been discovered that British cement has been used in the German fortifications.
§ Mr. BILLING
How can the difference between British and German cement be discovered when once they have been used?
§ General CROFT
Is the Noble Lord aware that people are under the impression that some of this concrete is made in this country?