§ 33. Mr. Logan
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether his attention has been directed to the strategic position of the Speke aerodrome, Liverpool, with up-to-date electrical service, water supply, abundance of skilled labour, etc.; and is he prepared to consider the position for Government requirements?
§ 34. Mr. Buchan-Hepburn
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether, 930 in considering the suitability of Maidenhead as a site for the new aircraft factory, he has also had under consideration the advantages of the Liverpool Speke estate with its unlimited acreage, abundant water and electrical supply, and road, railway, and air services?
§ Sir P. Sassoon
I would refer my hon. Friends to the statement made by the Prime Minister yesterday, which explained the reasons for the original selection of the site of White Waltham. As stated by the Prime Minister, immediate steps are being taken to find a suitable site in Lancashire, and the aerodrome at Speke is being considered in this connection. My hon. Friends will appreciate that until this investigation has been completed, it will not be possible for me to make any further statement. An announcement on the site selected will be made at the earliest possible date.
§ Mr. Logan
Am I to understand that, in regard to the question of a strategic point in Liverpool, this aerodrome has not been taken into consideration, and that with all the possibilities and facilities and unemployment there is in Liverpool we cannot have an up-to-date place brought within the cognisance of the Government?
§ Sir P. Sassoon
I do not know why the hon. Member should assume that. I said Liverpool was actually being considered at present?
§ Sir Percy Harris
In selecting these sites, does the right hon. Gentleman consult other Departments, like the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Health, so that we shall not be led into another mistake like the last one?
§ Mr. Brocklebank
Is it not a fact that the right hon. Baronet has all these considerations before him?
§ 45 and 46. Mr. George Hall
asked the Prime Minister (1) whether, in view of the fact that the claims of the Special Areas for the establishment of factories have been ignored in connection with the proposed aircraft factory at White Waltham, he will take whatever steps are possible to ensure that before any plans of this description are entered into by a Government Department the Minister or Ministers responsible for the Special Areas will be consulted;
(2) whether his attention has been called to Section 5 of the report of the Commissioner for South Wales, issued in July, 1934, in which he specially called the attention of the Government to the suitability of that area for Government factories, especially aircraft factories, owing to its strategic value, the suitability of sites, and the availability of labour; and, in view of that recommendation, will the Government reconsider the proposal of establishing an aircraft factory in White Waltham and construct it in South Wales?
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Baldwin)
The reasons for the original selection of this site and of the decision to substitute a different site in Lancashire were fully explained in my reply yesterday to the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson). It is the policy of the Government to establish new factories in the Special and Depressed Areas so far as practical considerations permit.
§ The Prime Minister
The whole Government are consulted in these matters in regard to sites, and the Lancashire site was chosen after very careful examination. In the consideration of any site, the question which the hon. Member has put is always borne in mind.
§ Mr. Hall
May I ask the Prime Minister whether the question of the new site is 932 now definitely closed, and whether suitable sites in other Special Areas will not be considered, seeing that in South Wales, the percentage of the unemployed is double that of Lancashire, and ought not South Wales to have some consideration in connection with the work?
§ The Prime Minister
As to the first part of the hon. Member's question, I cannot re-open this matter with regard to this particular factory, as it is now closed. With regard to the latter part of what he said, I would ask the hon. Member to await the Debate which will take place by and by on the special legislation for these areas in which he is particularly interested, and I hope that it may be possible to make a clear statement as to how far the defence programme may be forwarded by work done in these areas.
§ Mr. Grenfell
Will the right hon. Gentleman, as head of the Government, call for a report into the number of vacant sites occupied by munition works during the Great War and now awaiting use and occupation, lying in vicinities where there are enormous numbers of people unemployed? I refer particularly to the Burry Port munition site in a place where 70 per cent. of the people are unemployed. That site is vacant and awaiting to be used, and why does not the right hon. Gentleman take into consideration the use of such sites.
§ 56. Mr. Rhys Davies
asked the Secretary of State for War the considerations that entered into his decision to establish the munition factory at Chorley, Lancashire; and whether he took into account, before deciding on its location, the distress prevailing in the coal areas in and around Wigan?
§ The Financial Secretary to the War Office (Sir Victor Warrender)
Apart from purely technical considerations, the main requirements which had to be borne in mind when deciding the location of the filling factory now being erected at Chorley, Lancashire, were low vulnerability from air attack, good transport facilities for the heavy stores handled which require siding connections with a main line railway and good road access, satisfactory labour supply in emergency, and a level site not in proximity to a 933 highly populated district. The area required was about 900 acres for the factory and 200 acres for the neighbouring magazines. In this, as in other cases, full weight was given to the importance of bringing new work into depressed areas, and the situation in the various districts in Lancashire was fully in mind. The Chorley site was selected, however, as being the only one in Lancashire which fulfilled all the necessary conditions.
§ Mr. Davies
Is the hon. and gallant Member aware that all these requirements are to be found in those districts where distress is the greatest, that is, in the coal fields?
§ Mr. Parkinson
Is the hon. and gallant Member aware that in Chorley they have a low percentage of unemployment but that in Leyland, the adjoining town, there is practically none, while seven miles away the unemployed population is as much as 30,000 or 40,000?
§ Sir V. Warrender
The hon. Member apparently does not appreciate the fact that we are not putting up a munition factory, but a filling factory, where the work is of such a character that it entails certain peculiar considerations which have to be borne in mind.
§ Mr. Parkinson
May I ask whether the information received guarantees that there will be the population required for a filling factory in this area, because it is a slightly populated area, and public feeling is absolutely against a filling factory being placed there?
§ Sir V. Warrender
I have no reason to suppose that the information received is incorrect or that there will be any difficulty.