74. Mr. GODFREY LOCKER-LAMPSOM
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Munitions whether the following Departments are still in existence, namely: Mechanical Warfare Overseas Allies Department, Munitions Shipping Finance and Losses Department, and the Factory Construction Department; what good purposes they now serve, and what is the monthly cost to the taxpayer of their maintenance; and how soon may their functions cease and the offices occupied returned to their former tenants?
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the MINISTER of MUNITIONS (Mr. James Hope)
The answer is a long one, and I will circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
§ The following is the answer referred to:
§ The three Departments of the Ministry of Munitions to which the hon. Member refers are still in existence. The Mechanical Warfare (Overseas and Allies) Department is now employed in compiling a com- 2221 plete and permanent record of the numerous developments of the various types of tanks of Great Britain and the Allies, and the results of the extensive experiments made in connection with this new and important weapon. The staff which, at the date of the Armistice, numbered thirty-four, has been reduced to twelve persons, and the average monthly cost of the Department to the taxpayer is now £288. The work of the Department will be completed in about six months, and is being continued at the request of the War Office. The transfer of the work to that Department is at present under consideration. The Munitions Shipping Finance and Losses Section is recovering from carrying companies sums due for loss or damage of stores; arranging for the salvage of munition cargoes sunk during the War; and settling general average claims in connection with munition cargoes. The staff which on Armistice Day numbered eighteen, has been reduced to eight persons, and the average monthly cost is now £128. The amount recovered by the Section in the year to 31st December, 1918, was £54,000. It is anticipated that the work of the Section must continue for some time. The Factory Construction Department is engaged in supervising the completion of extensions of steel works towards which financial assistance was given by the Government. The staff which on the cessation of hostilities numbered twenty-seven, has been reduced to fourteen, and the average monthly cost is now £640. The work of the Department will probably be completed by the end of June next. It is anticipated that it will be possible for the Ministry to vacate the offices referred to during the next two weeks by utilising space at their disposal elsewhere which is being set free as the result of reductions effected in the staffs of other sections under their control.