§ 2. Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what progress has been made with the building and repairing of merchant ships in His Majesty's dockyards.
§ Sir J. CRAIG
With regard to the building of merchant ships, a 10,000-ton oil tank vessel was laid down at Devonport on 14th June, 1920, and one will be laid down at Pembroke in the near future. Arrangements have also been made to build two 8,400-ton oilers, one at Portsmouth and one at Devonport, and preliminary work in connection with these two vessels is in hand. With regard to the repairing of merchant ships, many have been repaired and reconditioned in His Majesty's dockyards, and there are still twelve in hand. The work is progressing as quickly as possible with a view to returning the ships to private trade as soon as they can be completed.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
In view of the unemployment in the dockyards, can the hon. and gallant Gentleman hold out any hope of extending building operations there?
§ Mr. LAMBERT
Have the Admiralty taken into account or obtained any estimates as to whether these ships could have been built more cheaply and more expeditiously in private yards than in Royal dockyards?
§ Major WHELER
Have the Admiralty received other suggestions for commercial work in the dockyards which could advantageously be carried out?
§ Sir J. CRAIG
All suggestions of that sort are carefully looked into. In reply to my right hon. Friend (Mr. Lambert), I cannot say whether it would have been cheaper for the boats to have been built in private yards. I do not know, but I can inquire. In answer to the hon. Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy), I have to say that everything we can possibly do to keep men employed is being done.