§ Miss LAWRENCE
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the filling factory at Slade Green was under the control of the Disposal Board, and whether, in consequence, it was exempted from the provisions of the Explosives Act of 1875; in what manner the Regulations laid down for the safe carrying on the work differed from those laid down in that Act or from the Regulations for the making of fireworks; whether his attention has been drawn to the wages paid in that establishment; and whether they are in accordance with the Fair Wages Clause to which Government contracts are subject?
The factory at Slade Green was under the control of the Disposal and Liquidation Commission, and was consequently not subject to the provisions of the Explosives Act of 1875. A special set of Regulations covering the storage and breaking down of the pyrotechnic96W stores in question was drawn up by the Commission and was administered under the supervision of an officer on the staff of the Commission with experience of danger-buildings whose sole duty it was to see that those Regulations were carried out, as in fact they appear to have been. I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of these Regulations. While I understand that no complaint has been received by the Commission as to the wages paid to the employés, the contract, being a contract for the sale of goods, did not contain a Fair Wages Clause. I am having inquiries made regarding the wages and will communicate further with my hon. Friend.
§ Mr. ERSKINE
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the nature of the contract and the price paid by Messrs. W. V. Gilbert and Company to the Disposal and Liquidation Commission for the explosives which recently exploded at their factory; whether this firm had had previous experience of breaking down explosives and ammunition; and, if not, why this dangerous work was entrusted to them?
The contract was one for the sale of surplus pyrotechnic stores, such as flares, Verey lights, signals, etc., of patterns used by the Services during the War. The purchase price was approximately £16,000, and the company was permitted to use a vacant factory at Slades Green, under licence, for breaking down or otherwise dealing with these stores. The work of breaking down was carried out under regulations laid down by the Disposal and Liquidation Commission, which regulations have been strictly observed, and under the supervision of an experienced danger building officer appointed by the Commission, whose sole duty it was to supervise the work. It is understood that Messrs. W. V. Gilbert and Company had no previous experience of breaking down such stores, but their works manager has had some years' experience in Government filling factories and in breaking down various kinds of ammunition. The foreman in charge of the breaking-down operations had been employed by a pyrotechnic firm in their works for a number of years.