§ 57. Mr. McEntee
asked the Minister of Supply whether he is aware that fac- 1218 tory premises, where thousands of munition workers were employed during the Great War and which were afterwards converted to other uses, but which could be easily re-converted for the production of necessary war material, are available for such purpose; and will he take steps to have such premises used before putting up new and costly factories here and placing large contracts abroad?
§ Mr. Burgin
Existing factory premises which are suitable for the production of war material are being used to the greatest possible extent, and this must necessarily be the policy followed in view of the importance of curtailing the erection of new buildings in war time. The hon. Member is, however, under a misapprehension in thinking that conversion is an easy process, as in most cases substantial additions of new plant and machine tools are involved. New factories are only being erected for special purposes for which existing buildings are unsuitable, and orders abroad have been restricted to cases of special justification.
§ Mr. McEntee
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are factories which were engaged in this work during the last war, in which suitable bases for machinery and overhead steel girders and things of that kind were erected and still exist? They are very costly; and a new factory, whether the building is a new one or an old one, has to be fitted up.
§ Mr. Burgin
The hon. Member exaggerates the number of buildings erected in the last war which are available now. In so far as they are available and suitable, they are being used.