Sir F. HALL
asked the Secretary of State for War if the Factories Department of the War Office are now inviting orders for the manufacture and supply of milk-cans, tin boxes, papier maché bags, blankets, sheets, pillows, mattresses, uniforms, handcarts, tasks, tools and gauges, foundry work, forge and press work, and a number of other miscellaneous articles; if it is intended to make the supply of general goods of this character in competition with private traders a permanent feature of the works of the Factories Department; whether the Department offers to submit prices for supplying such goods in the open market, and if it quotes on the basis of making any and, if so, what margin of profit?
§ Sir A. WILLIAMSON
As already announced in this House, the Government has decided that the factories at Woolwich and Enfield should be placed in a position to act as sub-contractors to engineering firms, provided no financial loss is sustained thereby. The factories are capable of executing orders for the manufacture of most of the articles of an engineering character referred to in the first part of the question, and such orders have been and are still being invited, in order to provide work for surplus labour, and for the permanent staff which must be maintained, and for whose employment the present limited munition production does not suffice. Orders for some of the 1135W articles named in the question which arc not of an engineering character have not been asked for. Firm prices are quoted on the basis of direct and indirect costs, the latter being particularly heavy in the case of Woolwich. No margin of profit is allowed for in the commercial sense, but there is no intention of undercutting trade prices.