Devonport Dockyard.

Oral Answers to Questions — Royal Navy. – in the House of Commons on 2nd August 1922.

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Mr. FOOT:

10.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether any inquiry has been made as to the time which would be required for the alteration of slip No. 3 at Devonport dockyard to enable a capital ship to be built there; and, if so, has consideration been given to the possibility of a three-shift system of work?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

It is estimated that if ordinary hours were worked, the lengthening of the slip to a sufficient extent to allow a capital ship to he built could be completed by about September, 1924. This time could no doubt be shortened if double or treble shifts were worked, but the expense would, of course, be much greater.

Mr. FOOT:

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is the possibility that this work might be carried out in nine months with three shifts?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

No, Sir; I am not aware of that.

Photo of Viscountess Nancy Astor Viscountess Nancy Astor , Plymouth, Sutton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that if they had begun this slip when I made representations to them six months ago, it would have been ready now?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley Lieut-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley , Fylde

Did not my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport (Sir C. Kinloch-Cooke) raise this question long before anyone on the other side?

Mr. FOOT:

11.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether, seeing that the alterations of slip No. 3 at Devonport Dockyard to enable a capital ship to be built there would give employment mainly to unskilled workers, and that this work could he proceeded with without interfering with the work of the skilled artisans who would be employed for many months in assembling the material for the capital ship before it could, actually be laid down, he will have these alterations put in hand; and, further, whether slip No. 4 at Devonport Dockyard could be extended to enable the new minelayer to be built there; and whether, seeing that this alteration and extension could be carried out at comparatively little cost and that this alteration of slip No. 4 would leave slip No. 3 free for the alterations necessary to enable one of the new capital ships to be built there, he will have the extension of slip No. 4 taken in hand immediately?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

As I have already explained to the House during the discussion on the Navy Estimates, the proposal to build the new capital ships in the Royal dockyards was fully considered, and it, was found that it would involve so much delay and extra expense, that it was decided to build them by contract in private yards where the necessary facilities already exist.

Mr. FOOT:

Has it been taken into consideration that, before the ship can be laid down, many months may expire, during which time the slip might be prepared? Is it not true that at least nine months will have to expire before the ship can actually be laid down, because of the assembling of the material for it?

Photo of Viscountess Nancy Astor Viscountess Nancy Astor , Plymouth, Sutton

And is it not true that we asked the Government six months ago to start the slip?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

All these relevant considerations were in the mind of the Admiralty, and we still decided that it was better to put out the ships to private contract.

Photo of Mr William Thorne Mr William Thorne , West Ham Plaistow

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us the difference between the estimate, of the Superintendent of the Dockyard and that of the private contractors?

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. Member must give notice of that, question.

Mr. SPEAKER:

This competition takes up too much time.

Mr. FOOT:

12.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether, in placing the contracts for the new capital ships, it is proposed to stipulate any date for delivery and whether the Devonport Dockyard authorities will be given an opportunity of stating if the time required for the alteration of slip No. 3 would prevent them from building and delivering, one of the capital ships within the same period as allowed to the private yard?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery Lieut-Colonel Leo Amery , Birmingham Sparkbrook

A date for delivery will be stipulated in accordance with practice. The time required to alter the Devonport slip would make it impossible for that yard to complete one of the ships referred to within the period stipulated for a similar ship built by contract.

Mr. FOOT:

Is the answer which the right hon. Gentleman has given based upon information from the authorities in the yard itself? Is he aware that their information is in conflict with his own as expressed in this House to-day?

Photo of Sir Clement Kinloch-Cooke Sir Clement Kinloch-Cooke , Plymouth, Devonport

Is it not a fact that all these questions have been put by the hon. Member for Devonport, and answers given?