HC Deb 22 July 1957 vol 574 cc15-8
25. Mr. Swingler

asked the Minister of Supply if he can now make a further statement about the future of the Royal Ordnance factory at Radway Green.

Mr. Aubrey Jones

I have nothing to add to the statement I made on 15th July.

Mr. Swingler

Could the Minister give an assurance that there will be no further redundancy at this factory, at any rate this year? Secondly, can he say whether he is vigorously following up the suggestion for converting this factory to civil production in order to maintain full employment for the workers there?

Mr. Jones

I would not say that I could give a categorical assurance as to employment for the remainder of the year, but I would be very surprised if there were further redundancies at the factory this year. As for civil work, certainly civil work will be considered, subject to the conditions which I mentioned in my statement last week.

26. Mr. Swingler

asked the Minister of Supply on what date he expects to close the Royal Ordnance factory at Swynnerton; and how many workers will be made redundant in the next three, six, and twelve months, respectively.

Mr. Aubrey Jones

I expect all production to have ceased 'within twelve months. How redundancies will be spread over this period is being worked out and information will be given to the employees as soon as possible.

Mr. Swingler

If the Minister will not reconsider his decision, so as to utilise this factory for some form of civil production, what steps is he taking now, before the labour force of this factory has been dispersed, to interest outside industrial undertakings in its very excellent equipment and site?

Mr. Jones

My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade and I are in touch with a number of firms over all these factories which are no longer required for defence purposes.

Mr. H. Fraser

Would my hon. Friend, in reviewing the question of maintenance at the Swynnerton factory, consider whether it could not be handed over now to the present employees of that factory, rather than to outside bodies and organisations, to carry it on as at the present time? In view of the fact that contracts are at the moment awarded to outside factories, would it not be possible to retain some of the staff for the maintenance of the buildings and plant and for painting and rebuilding, where necessary, especially if the buildings are to be sold to other contractors?

Mr. Jones

I am anxious to maintain these assets in a condition which will procure for them the best selling price. That is my aim.

27. Mr. H. Hynd

asked the Minister of Supply how the Royal Ordnance factory, Blackburn, will be affected by changes in the rearmament programme.

Mr. Aubrey Jones

I see no immediate prospect of a further reduction of employment at the Royal Ordnance factory, Blackburn. My intention is eventually to transfer to this factory the sort of work that has in the past been done at the Royal Ordnance factory, Maltby, which, as I announced on 15th July, is to be closed.

Mr. Hynd

Is the Minister aware that that reply will give great satisfaction, not only in my constituency but in those of my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle)and his hon. Friend the Member for Darwen (Mr. FletcherCooke)?

Mrs. Castle

Will the Minister reaffirm the answer he gave me on 11th March, when he said that the 374 redundancies would, in his view, be the last in this factory, as that answer gave great satisfaction?

Mr. Jones

Perhaps I have a little difficulty in recollecting what I said as long ago as 11th March, but I have given an indication in my first answer that the level of employment in the Blackburn factory is reasonably assured.

30. Mr. Mayhew

asked the Minister of Supply what Admiralty orders have been given to the Royal Ordnance factory, Woolwich, within the past two years.

Mr. Aubrey Jones

£370,000 worth.

Mr. Mayhew

Is it true that the Admiralty's reluctance to give orders for arms and ammunition to Royal Ordnance factories is because they are not given free enough access to the work in progress?

Mr Jones

It is for Admiralty Ministers to answer for the Admiralty. I am in close touch with the Admiralty.

31. Mr. Swingler

asked the Minister of Supply the capital expenditure at the Royal Ordnance factory, Swynnerton, in the first six months of this year.

Mr. Aubrey Jones


Mr. Swingler

In relation to the current expenditure on the maintenance or improvement of this factory, will the Minister now give an answer to the question put by his hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. H. Fraser)and assure him that any such expenditure is now for the benefit of those who are on the staff of the Royal Ordnance factory and not for outside contractors in order to maintain the employment of those who would otherwise be made redundant?

Mr. Jones

I confess that I had some little difficulty in quite understanding the drift of the question put to me by my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. H. Fraser). I shall be very happy to discuss the matter with both hon. Gentlemen concerned. As I said, it is my aim to secure as high a price as possible for these assets, and for that reason it is right that they should be maintained in good condition.