HC Deb 29 July 1918 vol 109 cc33-5
Colonel THORNE

asked the Minister of Munitions whether he can give any further information with regard to the strike among munition workers?

The MINISTER of MUNITIONS (Mr. Churchill)

The information I have up to the present received from the country is as follows: In accordance with the decision taken yesterday, Birmingham munition workers have substantially resumed work this morning. There was a considerable resumption at Coventry, and a resolution was passed at a mass meeting this morning in favour of a general resumption to-night. These are the only two centres at which there had been any considerable interruption of work. So far as the rest of the country is con- cerned, I have every hope that the action of Birmingham and Coventry will prevent any further cessation of work.

If, as I hope, the resumption of work is general to-morrow throughout the country, I shall be able on the following day to announce the constitution of the Committee of Inquiry. I may perhaps add that though it seems necessary in order to secure swift and thorough inquiry to keep the membership of the Committee as small as possible, the Committee will have powers to appoint local sub-committees to investigate local conditions at first hand in areas where circumstances demand it.

Colonel THORNE

When the Committee of inquiry is set up, will it start investigations at Coventry, where the dispute started?


No; it will start investigations here.


Is the right hon. Gentleman setting up a single Committee of inquiry with power to appoint subcommittees, or is he going to follow the precedent of last year and appoint a number of Committees from the different parts of the country?


No, Sir; my view is that the best course to take will be to give the Committee power to propose to the Ministry the formation of sub-committees for such districts as may require them.


Is the right hon. Gentleman acting in close co-operation with the Ministry of Labour in this matter?


Yes, at every stage in this business—before the policy was ever propounded and at every stage in its enforcement—right up to the present moment, I have acted in the most intimate and constant communication with the Minister of Labour.

Colonel THORNE

May I ask in what way the right hon. Gentleman proposes to take nominations for the employers and for the workmen?


I propose to take the nominations of the Employers Advisory Committee, which is advising me, and also of the Trade Union Advisory Committee, of which I believe my hon. and gallant Friend is a member.


Can we have any reassuring statement about Woolwich?


No, sir. I have not anything to add to the news published in the newspapers, but I am not without hopes that wiser councils will prevail.


Will this Committee inquire into the action of the Ministry in the matter?


The terms of reference have already been published.

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