Royal Ordnance Factories.

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 5th August 1942.

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Photo of Mr Arthur Colegate Mr Arthur Colegate , The Wrekin

I am sure that the House must have listened to the speech of the Minister of Supply with a good deal of satisfaction. The problem dealt with in this Report is admittedly very difficult for the reason the Minister has stated, that we are dealing, not with a static problem and some system of factories set up under more or less ideal conditions, but with an organisation which has not only been set up under emergency conditions, but has had to develop under emergency conditions, and which has had to change from week to week, sometimes almost from day to day, as the users of their products alter their demands. One of the great disadvantages of Select Committee Reports is that they give one a picture of a particular set of conditions at a particular time, and those conditions may very easily have been materially altered by the time the Report comes to be published, and still more by the time it comes to be discussed. I find, and I think others find, that it is a little difficult sometimes to understand exactly what the scope of a Select Committee is. Unfortunately, in contradistinction to the Reports of the Public Accounts Committee, there is no evidence published, and there is no reference to the evidence except in the most general fashion. That makes it extremely difficult to judge how far the criticisms that we get in these Reports are justified. I do not mean that they are not made in good faith. Of course they are, and they are very valuable, but to judge of their real value you want the whole of the facts before you. Sometimes in reading these Reports I have the impression that I am listening to one end of a telephone conversation all the time, and I say to myself, I wonder what the reply to that is. I wish I could hear the fellow speaking at the other end of the wire. To-day we have had the Minister of Supply supplying the other part of the conversation, but even now it is very difficult indeed, without the evidence in front of us, to judge what the real position is.