HC Deb 26 June 1940 vol 362 cc447-9
35. Mr. E. Smith

asked the Minister of Supply whether he has given consideration to the recommendations contained in the sixth report from the Select Committee on National Expenditure, and in particular to paragraphs 28–34; whether any action has been taken, and whether it is intended to act upon the recommendations on page 19, numbers 8 and 9; and, if so, what action has been taken, or is it proposed to take?

Mr. H. Morrison

Yes, Sir. Active steps have been and are being taken to strengthen the area organisation of the Ministry of Supply, and instructions have been issued to ensure that there is full coordination between the area officers and their staffs and the technical officers of headquarters departments, who are employed in the areas. The following steps have been taken:

Technical officers of the Directorates-General of Munitions Production and Ammunition Production have been posted to areas for progress work. These officers will report direct to their Departments in London, but they will supply the area officers with copies of their reports. They will normally be accommodated in the offices of the area officers, and they have been instructed to co-operate in every way with them.

The area officers, and the area boards of which they are members, will be used for the work of investigating offers of capacity and absorbing it in the war effort. It has been decided that this duty should be decentralised as far as possible. The area officers will be able, in this connection, to enlist the help of the technical officers, just mentioned.

An additional senior officer is being appointed to each area as deputy area officer, and I am proceeding with their selection as a matter of urgency. Their appointment should help me to obtain what I consider most important—the closest personal contact between area officers and officers in production departments at headquarters and also between the strengthened area organisation and local industry. I am also arranging for a careful review to be made of the staff allotted to the area officers, in order to ascertain in what other respects it may need strengthening.

Mr. Smith

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the expression of views given by competent representatives, at the conference which was held on Monday, and does he think that his reply will go a long way towards meeting the ideas of the representatives who attended that conference?

Mr. Morrison

Yes, Sir, I am aware of those representations. We have taken them fully into account. I think these proposals will go a long way to meet them. The hon. Gentleman and the House can take my assurance that everything will be done to get this area organisation upon a right and vigorous basis.

Mr. Leonard

Will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that the person responsible for progress will not be told to mind his own business when making observations to headquarters that there are defects in some of the units selected?

Mr. Morrison

I will certainly see to that.

Mr. Stokes

When selecting the staffs of these area committees will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the personnel should be selected from industries within the area and not be imported from outside?

Mr. Morrison

That is a matter of organisation on which I must take the opinion of my advisers.