HC Deb 05 November 1936 vol 317 cc248-9
77. Mr. ACLAND

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air what steps, if any, have been taken to ensure that if any one of the firms participating in the shadow scheme were in any way incapacitated or were for any reason unable to fulfil its undertakings, this would not result in the total cessation of production of engines under the scheme; and is he aware that four of the firms concerned might be destroyed by a single successful raid on Coventry?

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for AIR (Sir Philip Sassoon)

The firms participating in the shadow scheme have all been selected on the grounds of their great experience in manufacture and organising capacity. There appears to be no reason to anticipate that any of these firms will be incapacitated or unable to fulfil its undertakings, but in the very unlikely event of such a situation arising in peace time adequate arrangements would be made to secure that continued production was obtained. As my Noble Friend the Secretary of State for Air has made it clear, the particular plan of chain production adopted with the full advice of the firms concerned as the best and most practical method of producing the particular batch of engines would be modified in war when it must be remembered the firms turn over their existing factories to war production.


May I ask my right hon. Friend whether the strategical distribution of these factories has been considered by the General Staff, or whether the scheme is solely founded on engineering considerations?


It is founded on the existing motor firms. It would be impracticable to move the centre of the motor industry from Coventry. The erection of factories away from there would defeat the object of the scheme.


Ought not questions of distribution and vulnerability to be considered by the General Staff?


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman to deal with the last part of the question, as I did not notice that he replied to it?


I have given the answer.


Could the right hon. Gentleman explain why, if in the case of the manufacture of aircraft the strategical position is taken into account and the distressed areas are not allowed to manufacture because they are on the East Coast, only engineering considerations should govern the choice of factories for the manufacture of aeroplane engines?


I say that it is the existing motor firms to which we look in war time for making engines, and therefore, at the present time, they can continue their normal work and, at the same time, gain experience which would be useful to them for their work for the Air Force in war.


Surely the right hon. Gentleman is not answering the question. How will that experience be of any use in war time if they are wiped out in a raid on their vulnerable position?


Coventry is not so very vulnerable as to justify the assumption that the works would be at once wiped out in a raid.

Forward to