HC Deb 30 June 1920 vol 131 cc421-3

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, as 56,000 persons were employed in Admiralty outport establishments at home before the War and over 81,000 are employed now, he will give the total weekly wage bill for these employés in July, 1914, and the weekly wage bill now; and if he will state shortly on what work the extra 25,000 men over and above the pre-War standard are productively employed, having regard to the fact that the German naval menace no longer exists?


To give the wages bills in precise figures for all the different Departments affected would involve a great amount of labour, and occupy a considerable time. It will, perhaps, therefore suffice if I submit a rough approximation of the cost:

July, 1914 £120,000
Present time £340,000
As regards the work on which additional men are employed, although new construction has been stopped, the Fleet is much larger than it was in 1914. There are now also a number of establishments additional to those existing in 1914, besides which there is a great amount of work to be done in "clearing up" after the War. The large increase in the wages bill is of course mainly accountable for by the general rise in wages throughout the country. My right hon. Friend is doubtless aware that a certain amount of non-naval work is also being undertaken in the Royal Dockyards in order to provide additional economical employment in view of the great difficulty and hardship entailed in suddenly dispersing the men taken into the dockyard to meet War requirements.


Could the hon. and gallant Gentleman give us any idea what are now the Naval Establishments maintained which were not maintained pre-War?


I should be very glad to make further enquiry on the matter if my right hon. Friend will put down another question on the subject.

Colonel ASHLEY

Could the hon. and gallant Gentleman say whether in the near future he hopes to get down to the 56,000 employed before the War, in view of the fact that there is no enemy fleet in existence which really threatens?


The real difficulty is not to discharge the men too rapidly, and we hope they will be employed on the mercantile building which is under consideration at the present time.


Is my hon. and gallant Friend aware that there is great distress in Devonport at the present moment, and would he consider the advisability of alleviating this distress by not discharging men so quickly, as suggested by my hon. and gallant Friend behind me?