Royal Ordnance Factories.

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

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Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon South

Not a bit of it. We were always kept waiting at the entrance to Royal Ordnance factories, and they did not appear to expect us, as very little trouble was taken over our visit in a ceremonial sense. The visits to such works must necessarily be secret, and thus relate to things that cannot be publicised. But whenever we have visited a factory the actual arrangements have been made through the Ministry of Supply or Ministry of Aircraft Production or whatever Ministry is interested in the particular production. As to the idea that we were publicised when we visited factories, if my hon. Friend only saw what happened sometimes when a Minis- ter goes to a factory, he would find something very different. No special arrangements have ever been made for visits of the Select Committee. My hon. Friend does not like the verdict on this occasion, so he says, "Change the jury." I wonder whether my hon. Friend really wrote his own speech to-day. He talks about copybook maxims. If he devoted one-tenth of the time that some of us have devoted to this problem, he would know that these copybook maxims are not being carried out. The Minister of Production referred to the design of the Bofors platform. Why was it redesigned? Because of a visit that some of us paid to a number of factories where we received as witnesses certain people who are making this thing. We were told of the stupidity of the design in a factory not very far from my hon. Friend's constituency. What is the use of coming here and accusing the Committee of talking platitudes and all the rest of it when we find that these platitudes are not being given effect to? I remember visiting a Royal Ordnance factory in April, 1940, and seeing the design of the platform of another kind of gun so incredibly stupid that it made the works management weep.

Surely it is somebody's business to draw attention to these follies. My hon. Friend says that we ought not to do it. I hope that he will not make a speech like that again and talk about copybook maxims. It is the most disgusting speech I have heard in this House for many a long year from the point of view of the public interest. My hon. Friend wants no reform; he thinks that everything is lovely and that the Royal Ordnance factories are perfect. Anyway, I will not trouble the House any more about his speech. My right hon. Friend the Minister, for whom I have the profoundest respect, is asked to do what is an almost impossible job, so great is its magnitude, and he is to-day a little bit on the grill. In his defence—and I do not blame him—he attacked the 17th Report of last Session because something which it said does not agree with the nth Report.