asked the Secretary of State for War whether the order for silver medals at present being made at Woolwich has been reduced by 150,000; whether this work was done as well as and cheaper than by private contract; whether he can state the reasons for this reduction and the subsequent closing down of this part of the factory, whether the silver-coin factory is to be closed down after stocktaking; whether this work is at present being done satisfactorily by a staff mainly ex-service men; whether 20,000,000 small-arms originally given to Woolwich to be broken up have been taken away from the S.A.A.F. department and given to private firms to be broken up; whether in consequence 60 men, mainly ex-service men, have been dismissed; whether, in view of the Tipton disaster, he will revise this order and have the small-arms broken up by experienced men; whether the Government intend closing any or all of those departments after 1st April: and whether, in view of the unemployment in Woolwich, they will reconsider their policy?
Woolwich is manufacturing the entire order for silver war medals, and there is no question of any reduction. Possibly the hon. Member has in mind the difference between the rough estimate of 6,000,000, and the later ascertained requirements of approximately 5,850,000. The medal and coin factories will be closed down when their work is completed. So far as I am aware, the coin work has been done satisfactorily, as stated. Big stocks of small-arms ammunition are stored at Woolwich for breaking down. Certain of these stocks have been disposed of, but this has not involved any discharge of labour, as there is sufficient of this material left to keep the facilities at Woolwich in employment. The consistent policy of the War Office has been to keep Woolwich departments in work as long as possible, and to minimise discharges by every legitimate measure.