HC Deb 11 March 1942 vol 378 cc1040-2
24. Mr. Loftus

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, with a view to still further speeding up the building and repair of ships for the Royal Navy, he will give instructions to extend the scope of Warships Weeks so that prominent political, service and trade union speakers will address meetings at all dockyards urging the necessity for every possible effort to improve the sea power of the nation.

The Financial Secretary to the Admiralty (Mr. George Hall)

Warship Weeks were instituted for the purpose of stimulating national saving and to create for our towns and villages a more direct interest in the Royal Navy, and, as my hon. Friend is aware, have in this achieved a marked success. The Admiralty has already taken measures to impress upon the shipyard and dockyard workers the need for maximum effort on their part.

Mr. Loftus

Is my hon. Friend satisfied that he is getting maximum production, or has been getting maximum production, of all ships in the dockyards, and, if not, will he consider every possible step to speed up production? Will he recommend his right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty to deliver some of his speeches in the dockyards?

Mr. Hall

If my hon. Friend heard the speeches of my right hon. Friend on the Navy Estimates and on an occasion prior to the Navy Estimates, he will be satisfied that we are getting production, but I am not suggesting that we are getting all the production we should like; there is room for improvement. But I think it is due to the men employed both in the Royal Dockyards and in the shipbuilding yards to point out that conditions are not nearly as bad as some people think. I can assure my hon. Friend that every step is being taken to bring about maximum production.

Viscountess Astor

Is it not true, as my hon. Friend said, that most of the people in the Royal Dockyards are really working hard and well? It is not a question of speech-making; they are doing it, and will do it without speeches. In the case of others who are not working hard, some other action will have to be taken.

Mr. Kirkwood

Is my hon. Friend aware that behind this Question is the suggestion if you give a lecture to the workers everything will be all right? Is he aware it is not the workers at all, and that the whole of the shipyards, particularly the yards which repair ships, are in a state of chaos due to the Admiralty? Is he aware that on the Clyde three retired Admirals, who know nothing about it, are in charge of the shipbuilding?

Mr. Hall

I cannot accept the statement which has been made by my hon. Friend. I recently made a short visit to the Clyde.

Mr. Kirkwood

I know, and you said you would tell me all about it when you came up in the train, but you did not do so.

Mr. Hall

I repeat that this visit satisfied me that the majority of the men on the Clyde are doing their best.

Mr. Buchanan

I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment, not merely on the aspects contained in the Question, but in regard to a speech made by an hon. and gallant Member of this House at a Warship Week. I beg to give notice that I shall raise the general question of Warship Weeks being made the subject of slanderous attacks upon the working classes.

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