HC Deb 22 December 1916 vol 88 cc1837-8W

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether he is now in a position to make any further statement with regard to the special attention given by the Minister of Munitions as to the possibility of employing the unemployed linen workers of Belfast on munition work in that city?


I am not in a position at present to add anything to my statement of the 18th instant.


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the information supplied in the current issue of the "Board of Trade Labour Gazette" that during last month there was a scarcity of labour, both of men and women, especially in Scotland and in Irish towns other than Belfast, and that only 12,274 workpeople were employed in this trade in Belfast as compared with 16,554 in November, 1915; whether he can state any reason for the fact that workers of this class should be so Scarce in Irish towns outside Belfast whilst 4,281 of them were idle in that city; whether there is any difference between the wages paid to the workers in Irish towns as compared with Belfast; whether any and how many of these firms outside Belfast are owned or controlled by Belfast firms; whether he is aware that Belfast linen firms are so busy that they are unable to keep pace with orders; and whether he will take immediate action to provide work for these 4,28? workpeople, after consultation with the Ministry of Munitions and the War Office Contract Department, in munition factories on the spot under Government supervision and control?


asked the Minister of Munitions whether he is aware that, according to reports supplied by the employers to the December issue of the "Board of Trade Labour Gazette," there were, 4,280 linen workers in Belfast out of employment last month; and whether, in order to provide employment for these skilled workers and to increase the output of war material, he will confer with the War Office and the Board of Trade with a view to establishing a munitions factory in Belfast under Government supervision and control?


I have been asked by the Ministry of Munitions to take Question 12, and it may be convenient at the same time to reply to Question 7. If the hon. Member will again examine the article on the linen trade published in the December issue of the "Board of Trade Labour Gazette," he will find that he has confused the earnings of the workpeople with the numbers employed. The latter part of these questions consequently does not arise.