HC Deb 03 March 1958 vol 583 cc812-3
3. Mr. Swingler

asked the Minister of Supply what plans have been prepared by his Department for conversion of war factories to peace production in the event of an international agreement to disarm.

Mr. Aubrey Jones

It would be premature to try and prepare such plans until some agreement on disarmament is in sight and something definite is known about its probable scope.

Mr. Swingler

Is the Minister aware that it is late to prepare such plans when redundancy is already being created? Is not the lesson which we should have learned that it is necessary to prepare beforehand for a rundown of defence contracts and to have some plans ready to put into operation for the conversion of the production of these factories to civil goods? Should not the Minister now take this responsibility?

Mr. Jones

I hope the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the nature of the plans depends on the nature of the agreement, in what kind of weapons the reduction takes place and the scope of the reduction.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Will the Minister read the report of the debate in the House last Monday in which concern was expressed from many quarters about the effect of the changes already announced in defence policy? Are we to understand from the Minister that no plans are being made to meet this contingency?

Mr. Jones

I have read the report of last Monday's debate. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to appreciate that it is very difficult to prepare plans to meet a situation which at the moment is entirely hypothetical.

Mr. Swingler

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.