§ 68. Mr. Sorensen
asked the Minister of Supply whether he is aware that many small business firms have been unable to secure war work to counterbalance their loss of normal trade; whether these small firms, who were originally asked to do war work, received any offer of a Government guarantee against losses incurred by neglecting regular customers; whether financial assistance has been or could be extended to such firms to enable them to secure the requisite machinery for war work purposes; and whether he is aware that failure to secure these facilities may cause the closing down of many of these businesses?
§ Mr. Burgin
I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade to a similar question on 19th October. Orders for war requirements are being spread as widely as possible consistently with the need for economy and satisfactory deliveries. Subject to this every effort is being made to utilise small firms, and when small firms are suitable they receive the same facilities as large concerns in regard to the provision of balancing plant, tools, jigs and gauges and financial arrangements. I am afraid, however, that I cannot undertake to give them special facilities, nor have I the power to allocate orders with the sole object of counterbalancing loss of normal trade.
Sir Joseph Nail
Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that there are many firms who are in a positon to resume where they left off 20 years ago, and why are they not called into the picture to resume at once?
§ 70. Mr. Gledhill
asked the Minister of Supply whether his Department is now aware of the number of firms who have supplied information to the Industrial Planning department of the War Office regarding their machine-tools and equipment; and, of , how many of these firms have been given contracts for war work?
§ Mr. Burgin
The directorate of industrial planning had particulars of the equipment of some 6,000 firms, and about 4,500 of these were actually inspected. Of this number, it is estimated that about 60 per cent. are now employed on work for one or other of the three Service Departments, either directly or on subcontracting.