27. Major NEWMAN
asked the Minister of Munitions whether he will ascertain if the works manager of Messrs. Ross, Limited, optic manufacturers, is a German named Hasselkus, naturalised in 1910; whether he is satisfied that under the management of Hasselkus the output of field glasses is satisfactory; whether a large number of field glasses which want graticuling are now lying at the works with no serious effort made to make them ready for service, while, in addition, a ton or more of optical glass has been taken off the market by Messrs. Ross and not made use of; whether he is aware that the percentage of rejected field glasses amounts to about 15 per cent. in Messrs. Ross's works as against a percentage of about 4 per cent. in the Zeiss works when they were managed after the outbreak of war by an Englishman, Mr. Thomas Charles, and before they were purchased by Messrs. Ross; is he aware of the distaste of English working men and women at being employed under a German; and is it proposed to continue Messrs. Ross as a controlled firm entrusted with the output of field glasses to the troops?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of MUNITIONS (Mr. Kellaway)
In view of the serious nature of 26 the allegations made against Messrs. Ross, who have done such invaluable work in connection with the output of optical munitions, I hope the House will excuse the length of the answer. The works manager of this firm is Mr. J. W. Hasselkus, born in Schleswig-Holstein and naturalised a British subject in 1910. He has been resident in England for nearly twenty years, and has been in the employ of the firm of Ross from early manhood, rising from the position of designer to that of works manager. He is married to a French woman. His designs of special instruments, notably in the way of gunnery, have for many years been of service to the State. Since the outbreak of the War the results obtained from the works under his management, both in the production of new and, in some cases, secret instruments, and in the increase of output of standard instruments, have been of great use to the fighting Services. The statement that a large number of field glasses are now lying at any of the works of Messrs. Ross with no serious effort to make them ready for service is without foundation. I do not understand what is meant by the suggestion that a ton or more of optical glass has been taken off the market by Messrs. Ross and not made use of. No optical glass required for munitions of war is permitted to be marketed. The statement that the percentage of rejected field glasses amounted to 15 per cent. is also without foundation. The percentage of rejections from this firm's works is now, and has been throughout the War, amongst the lowest of any contractors producing such instruments. I see no reason for interfering with the contracts of this firm.
Will the hon. Member make inquiry of the Inspector of Ordnance Stores at Woolwich to find out if the field glasses supplied by this firm are satisfactory?
§ Mr. KELLAWAY
All inquiries that were necessary to be made. I am quite prepared to make any further inquiries if substantial reasons for making them are given.