§ Mr. M. MacPherson
asked the Minister of Supply what steps are being taken to increase the capacity of the boiler-making industry.
§ Mr. G. R. Strauss
Water tube boilers, to which I understand my hon. Friend is referring, are not manufactured as a 335W complete unit at makers' works, but comprise a group of components (many of which are made by specialist firms) which have to be assembled at site to form a complete boiler. The rate of expansion of production must, therefore, be related to the rate of site preparation and installation of boilers.
Since 1946 the principal water tube boiler makers have spent at least £4 million on extensions to their buildings alone, and over the next five years will be incurring capital expenditure at the rate of approximately £¾million annually. Productive capacity has also been expanded by a wide extension of subcontracting.
A more effective use of the existing capacity and new extensions by longer working hours and night shift working offers the best hope of a quick increase in output. For this, additional labour is required, particularly skilled draughtsmen, and the Ministry of Labour are doing all they can to assist.