§ Mr. MILLS
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport the terms of the contract entered into with Messrs. M'Alpine for the Watling Street and main Kent Road scheme, which was a Grant-in-Aid for relief of unemployment; whether, as the object of the grant is to absorb as many unemployed men as possible, he sanctioned the use of mechanical excavators, each of which do the work of 200 men; and, if not, will he order its discontinuance at once?
§ Mr. NEAL
The contract which is being entered into by Messrs. Sir Robert McAlpine and Sons is a "measure and value" contract, on a schedule of prices, subject to the operation of certain sliding scales. The employment of mechanical plant on the work is subject to the approval of the responsible officers of the Roads Department. The use of steam diggers has been sanctioned at three points, where the depth of cutting is very considerable. This will enable the pro-1862W gress of the work to be so expedited by the more rapid opening up of new sections as to result in the employment of more men within the near future than would be the case if no mechanical plant were adopted. The more rapidly the excavation proceeds, the larger is the surface made available for the subsequent operations of road construction which call for the employment of manual labour.