HC Deb 27 May 1919 vol 116 cc1030-2
65. Mr. DONALD

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Shipping Controller whether he will state the approximate launching weight of the concrete ship which stuck during launching operations at the Barnstaple shipyard; if he will state the number of shipwrights employed at the making up of these launchways; and what previous experience the foreman-in-charge had of launching ships?

Colonel WILSON

The launching weight of the reinforced concrete barge launched on 21st September, 1918, was approximately 850 tons. I am informed that no shipwrights were employed as it was not considered expedient to take them away from the steel shipbuilding yards, but there were experienced shipyard carpenters engaged on the work. The launch was in the hands of the builder's naval architect, and I would point out to my hon. Friend that these barges were built to Government order by private contractors.


Are there any contracts still running, or have they been cancelled?

Colonel WILSON

All contracts have been cancelled except in cases where the barges were well advanced, in which case delivery has been taken and the barges are being disposed of.


Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that if there had been an experienced foreman the ship would not have stuck on the slip?


That is hypothetical.

66. Mr. ROSE

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Shipping Controller whether, in the light of the report of two delegates appointed by the Ship Constructors' and Shipwrights' Association to investigate the Barnstaple concrete shipyard, a copy of which report has been sent to him, he still adheres to his decision not to hold an inquiry; and will he state his reasons, if any, for his refusal?

Colonel WILSON

In consequence of the grave tonnage losses, orders were given by the Admiralty in 1917 to various concrete shipbuilding firms to build a number of concrete vessels. I am not clear whether the inquiry which the hon. Member suggests is an inquiry into the policy of the Admiralty in ordering concrete vessels, or into the method in which the work was carried out by a private firm; but I would point out that the contractors at Barnstaple were in the same position as other shipbuilders building for the Government.