HC Deb 17 July 1941 vol 373 cc740-2
68. Mr. Granville

asked the Minister of Aircraft Production whether his Department has considered the report of the Amalgamated Engineering Union, which states that 25 out of 30 aircraft factories are short of work, together with the recommendation that some of this shortage could be avoided by better supervision, better planning and better progressing; and what action his Department, and the Production Executive, propose to deal with this?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Aircraft Production (Mr. Montague)

The report referred to has not been sent to my right hon. Friend, but I am aware of general statements on the lines of the Question which were made by the president of the Amalgamated Engineering Union at a conference last month. I am, however, unable to comment on such general statements in the absence of particular information regarding individual cases. I need hardly add that every practicable step is taken by my Department to increase the output of factories.

Mr. Granville

As this Question refers to a report by the Amalgamated Engineering Union and was originally put to the Ministry of Labour, will the Minister of Aircraft Production take steps to consult with the Minister of Labour, who is chairman of the Production Executive, and see that action is taken to deal with the matter?

Mr. Montague

This Question illustrates the impossibility of dealing with general statements of this character by Question and Answer in Parliament. The hon. Member asks what action the Production Executive propose to take to deal with "this." To deal with what? It is like asking me whether I have finished beating my wife.

Mr. Granville

Does not this Question really illustrate the necessity for having a single Minister in charge of war production?

Mr. Kirk wood

Reference has been made to my union, the Amalgamated Engineering Union. Will the hon. Member get in touch with our general secretary, Freddie Smith, on this matter?

Mr. Montague

We have been in touch with Freddie Smith and many others who have made allegations of this character, but we cannot deal with allegations of a general character. We must have specific allegations. Every allegation that is specific is dealt with, and dealt with very thoroughly.

Mr. Neil Maclean

If an allegation is made by an official of a particular union at a conference held by that union, does the hon. Member not consider it necessary to ask that particular individual definitely to state the factories which are the subject of the complaint, and, if so, does he care then to go into the question and give it full consideration, and either disprove the allegation or take action if it is correct?

Mr. Montague

I should imagine that if a conference take the trouble to pass resolutions like this, taking the initiative, they would carry on with the initiative. We are quite prepared to deal, by correspondence or interview, with the officials of any union in the country. We are quite prepared to deal with these matters, and we are dealing with them, but again I must insist that the allegations must not be merely general but specific. We must know what the allegations really amount to, and abstract resolutions of this character do not get us very far.

Mr. Granville

Owing to the unsatisfactory answer I have received, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment at the first possible opportunity.

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