HC Deb 19 April 1917 vol 92 cc1875-7W

asked the Minister of Labour whether he has been in communication on behalf of the Government with the employers' associations and the trade unions concerned in the shipbuilding industry with a view to introducing payments by results in cases where time-work has hitherto prevailed in order to increase the output of shipping; and, if so, what steps he proposes to take to ensure the fair working of any system of payment by results that may be introduced and to prevent the unfair cutting of rates, which has often given rise to complaint in the past?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. In order to ensure the successful introduction of payment by results, I feel that it is a matter of great importance that the workmen should have confidence that the system will be fairly worked. It is already an essential part of the scheme that the existing time-rates shall in all cases be deemed to constitute a guaranteed rate, should this be desired by the workmen's representatives, and I am consulting with the Admiralty and the Ministry of Munitions with a view to deciding what further safeguards in connection with the alteration of rates are necessary and practicable.


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Shipping Controller whether he will encourage the policy of building seven ships of 2,000 tons each, instead of one of 14,000 tons, in order to ensure that seven times the number of submarines will be required to do the same amount of damage?


No ship of 14,000 tons has been ordered by the Shipping Controller, and the policy suggested by my hon. Friend is that which is actually being carried out. The three types of standard ships contracted for are of, approximately, 5,000, 3,000, and 2,000 tons gross respectively.


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Shipping Controller what was the output of new ships in the second half of 1916; was the estimate given by the ex-President of the Board of Trade on 15th November last reached or exceeded; have the pooling arrangements he then suggested been carried into effect in all the shipyards; and what is the present estimate of the output of new ships during the current half-year?


The output of steamers of 100 tons gross and upwards, in the six months ended 31st December, 1916, was less than the estimate mentioned by my right hon. Friend the late President of the Board of Trade in November last. The pooling arrangements referred to, concentrating work on vessels nearest completion, have been carried out. As to the last part of the question, I am glad to say that our estimated output for March was exceeded, being at the rate of over 1,000,000 tons per annum.