HC Deb 19 November 1919 vol 121 cc896-7

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he has any policy to announce with regard to the employment of more than 40,000 civilian workers in the Admiralty out port establishments in excess of the 58,294 employed on the 1st August, 1914; and whether all the civilian workers now employed by the Admiralty are engaged in productive national work?


All civilian workers employed by us in the dockyards are today engaged in productive national work; that is to say, a small amount of completion of new construction: refitting and repairing His Majesty's ships, repairing and reconditioning fishing vessels and merchant vessels for return to Merchant Service, and a small amount of shipbreaking. As the work of refitting and repairing began to diminish, we instituted, as my right hon. friend knows, a system of discharges which has now been going on for some weeks.

Urgent representations having been made to the Prime Minister and the First Lord as to the great undesirability of dispersing the numbers of men who will no longer be required for the purposes of the post-war fleet, it has been decided to appoint a Committee to examine exhaustively forthwith and advise the Admiralty on the question as to how far these men and the dockyard facilities which will be set free from Naval effort can be appropriately utilised for other work of a productive character.

Pending the report of that Committee, we have notified the men shortly to the following effect, that if they are prepared to go on short time to the 31st March next, we can by expediting, to a certain extent, refit and repair work to the Fleet, which according to present arrangements would be spread over a long period, find employment for all our present workpeople in the dockyards, and suspend further discharges during the winter.


Has the Admiralty taken any steps to send away these men who are superfluous in the dockyards to the North, where shipwrights are badly wanted?


There has been some applications from firms seeking to engage men in the North, but there are great difficulties in the shipbuilding centres in the North in regard to housing. Little good would avail if we sent them there.


Who made these representations to the Prime Minister? Were they not made by hon. Members representing those ports?


The hon. Member knows who made them.

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