HC Deb 18 May 1944 vol 400 cc335-7
38. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Minister of Production in what form it is intended to carry out the promise made to hon. Members who formed a deputation to representatives of the Government in December, 1941, and in 1942 when it was proposed to put the management of several factories in certain hands; in what way is it intended to utilise the Government factories after the war; and what is the policy to be applied to the shadow factories and agency arrangements.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Production (Mr. Garro Jones)

It is assumed that the hon. Member is referring to six factories which were brought into operation as filling factories under agency management. As he is aware, the arrangement was made in order to take advantage of the management organisation of the firms concerned for the purpose of bringing the factories rapidly into production. Since then, two of the factories have been converted to other war purposes and the agency agreements have been cancelled. The other four continue to operate on the original basis. The question of the ulti- mate disposal of these factories and of the other types of factories to which the hon. Member refers is bound up with the whole question of the industrial switch-over. This question is under active consideration, but in view of the widely varying circumstances for which provision will have to be made, it is still too early to formulate a definite policy for particular classes of factories.

Mr. Stokes

While the matter is under consideration will the hon. Gentleman ask Ministers to use their influence to avoid a repetition of what occurred after the last war; and, seeing that millions have been expended on buildings and plant, will he give an undertaking that consideration will be given to utilising the plant on the basis of public ownership?

Mr. Garro Jones

I can assure my hon. Friend that all the lessons that are to be learnt from the last war will be learnt. As regards the general principles on which these factories will be disposed of, I can only say that the whole question is under careful consideration.

Mr. Shinwell

In view of the fact that, in reply to a recent Question, a right hon. Gentleman opposite said he was going to do his best to safeguard the interests of private enterprise, can we take it that my hon. Friend will do his best to safeguard the interests of the community?

Mr. Garro Jones

I think there can be no question about that.

Sir H. Williams

Can we have an assurance that they will not build any more locomotives at Woolwich Arsenal at twice the price of private enterprise construction?

Mr. Gallacher

Is there or is there not, a section of the Government with its mind already made up that these Government buildings and works are to be retained as Government buildings and works and not handed over at cheap rates to private speculators?

Mr. Garro Jones

I cannot speak as to what is in the mind of every Member of the Government. I can only say that these matters are being discussed and that every consideration will be kept in view.

39. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Minister of Production the total public funds expended on buildings for war purposes; the amount expended on Government factories, shadow factories and agency schemes, respectively; and the amounts providing capital assets for companies.

Mr. Garro Jones

The total, of approved expenditure from public funds on war factory buildings since the beginning of the re-armament period is about £830,000,000; the amount expended on Government factories is about £180,000,000; and the amount expended on shadow factories and agency schemes is about £252,000,000. The amount of capital assistance to contractors under contributory schemes, is about £20,000,000. These figures relate to capital expenditure covering buildings and plant.

Mr. Smith

Can my hon. Friend give an undertaking that this large outlay of, public money will be utilised in the best interests of the nation after the war?

Mr. Garro Jones

The hon. Member can certainly be assured that that will be the case.

Mr. Wakefield

Is not the best way to utilise private enterprise?