HC Deb 29 February 1928 vol 214 cc391-3

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what contracts have been placed for new constructions with private firms during the last three months, giving particulars including the names of the firms concerned; what orders have been placed with His Majesty's dockyards, giving particulars and stating which dockyard, during a similar period; and whether His Majesty's dockyards were given the opportunity of tendering for those contracts placed with private firms?

Lieut.-Colonel HEADLAM

The answer to the first part of the question is:

4 submarines to Messrs. Vickers Armstrong.

1 submarine to Messrs. Cammell Laird.

1 flotilla leader to Messrs. Swan Hunter.

2 destroyers to Messrs. John Brown.

2 destroyers to Messrs. Hawthorn Leslie.

2 destroyers to Scott's Shipbuilding Company.

1 destroyer to Messrs. Vickers Armstrong.

The answer to the second part is:

1 cruiser to H.M. Dockyard, Devonport.

1 submarine to H.M. Dockyard, Chatham.

1 Pontoon for Crane Lighter to H.M. Dockyard, Chatham.

The reply to the third part of the question is in the negative except as regards the Pontoon and the boilers for the Devonport Cruiser.


Can the Admiralty hold out any hope that this policy of sending work to private firms while simultaneously discharging dockyard employés will be abandoned; and has it not hitherto been the practice to give the dockyards an opportunity of tendering for work before it is placed with private firms?

Lieut.-Colonel HEADLAM

We are giving the dockyards as large a share in our building programme as we possibly can.


You are discharging men.

Lieut.-Colonel HEADLAM

Obviously, however, the Government have to consider the interests of the whole country, as I have often told the hon. Member, and we cannot give any kind of guarantee as he suggests.


Does not the hon. and gallant Gentleman also consider the interests of economy, and has it not been proved that the dockyards can build these ships more cheaply than private firms? Why, therefore, is the taxpayers' money being squandered?

Viscountess ASTOR

Is it not true that the Government are really not responsible for the work of these other places, but that they are responsible for the men in His Majesty's dockyards?

Lieut.-Colonel HEADLAM

I do not quite understand the Noble Lady's question, but, with regard to the interests of economy, we certainly are studying them, and that is one of the main reasons why we allocate ships in the way that we do.

Viscountess ASTOR

Is it not true that the Government train them, pay them, and pension them, and does that not show that they are more responsible for the men in the dockyards than for the men in any private yard?


Does my hon. and gallant Friend assert that it is less economical to build ships in His Majesty's dockyards than in private yards?

Lieut.-Colonel HEADLAM

Obviously, I cannot lay down any general rule on the subject. All that I said was that we are studying the interests of economy in every possible way.


Would it not be as objectionable for a man to be discharged from the Clyde as from a dockyard?

Forward to