HC Deb 22 February 1922 vol 150 cc1908-9
85. Sir W. DAVISON

asked the Secretary of State for War whether any, and, if so, how many locomotives are being built at Woolwich Arsenal, and to whose order; what was the estimated cost of such locomotives; and what is the probable profit or loss on the transaction?

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Lieut.-Colonel Sir R. Sanders)

An order for 100 locomotives was placed, with Cabinet authority, at Woolwich in October, 1919, by the Ministry of Munitions before the Arsenal reverted to the War Office, the object being to afford relief to unemployment. No arrangements were made for the disposal of the engines when built, but they were of a design suitable for use on British railways. So far as is known, no estimate of cost was prepared when the order was placed, but the locomotives have been built during a period of high prices, both for material and labour, and the cost is now estimated at £1,600,000. They have been reported to the Disposal and Liquidation Commission for sale. I cannot make any useful and reliable estimate of the ultimate loss.


Have any of these locomotives been purchased or placed at all?


I believe not.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that a very large number of railway locomotives belonging to the Ordnance Department which were used in France have not yet been sold?


Is it a fact that the Geddes Committee, in estimating this loss of £1,600,000, entirely omitted the cost of reconstructing the works to make them suitable for locomotive production, and was that production the result of the Prime Minister's declared policy of retaining the railways in the ownership of the Government? [An HON. MEMBER: "Send them to Russia!"]