HC Deb 02 March 1936 vol 309 cc999-1000

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the Birmingham Small Arms Company recently received an order for rifles, and that to carry this out men were engaged of whom two-thirds had to be discharged being in capable of being trained for the work, and the remainder are also not satisfactory, and, in view of the difficulty in finding enough men accustomed to high-class production, what steps he proposes to take to remedy this state of affairs?

The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the WAR OFFICE (Sir Victor Warrender)

My attention has been called to the evidence to this effect given recently to the Royal Commission on the private manufacture of, and trading in, arms. While I am not in a position to comment upon the details quoted in regard to the experience of the Birmingham Small Arms Company, the Government have appreciated the fact that, owing to the dearth of orders for warlike stores during the period which has elapsed since the War, a lack of productive capacity for such stores has arisen, and this deficiency includes, of course, skilled labour. I confidently anticipate that the programme for the improvement of our defences which will shortly be laid before the House will improve the position as regards productive capacity in all its aspects.

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