asked (1) the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury if he is aware that some 8,000,000 rounds of small arms ammunition have recently been sold from Woolwich Arsenal to a Birmingham firm to be broken up, and that negotiations are now being carried on with another civilian firm, who desire to purchase some 5,000,000 rounds of small arms ammunition for breaking up; whether, seeing that disabled ex-service men, who are capable of carrying out this work, are being discharged from Woolwich Arsenal and other Government factories, this policy can be reconsidered;
(2) the Secretary of State for War whether he will refrain from handing any more ammunition to the Disposal Board for sale and to be broken up, having regard to the fact that this work can be and has been profitably carried out by disabled men at Woolwich and other Government factories;
(3) whether there is stored at Bramley over 400,000 fuzes (various) and millions of rounds of small arms ammunition; and, if so, will he consider the advisability of having part of these removed to Woolwich and other Government factories to be broken up, and so find work for the disabled men now under notice for discharge?
The procedure under which surplus ammunition and fuzes are reported to the Disposal and Liquidation Commission must go on, but arrangements will, if possible, be made to continue to give to Woolwich some of the work of breaking down these surplus stores. The difficulty at present is that the work has not hitherto been performed at Woolwich so economically as elsewhere. With regard to Bramley, the 400,000 fuzes referred to have been already sold by the Commission to the United Steel Company who, as I explained in my reply of the 4th instant, have obtained permission to break them down on the spot. It is obvious that this contract, and similarly the contracts for the ammunition referred to in question No. 79, cannot be cancelled.
Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that these men, who performed their work in a proper manner, are being discharged, and that the work is now being carried on by civilian firms employing girl labour?
I cannot admit the statements of fact of my hon. and gallant Friend. He may be perfectly sure that, as far as it can be economically done, and as far as possible, Woolwich will have a fair chance.