Tanks

Oral Answers to Questions — Production – in the House of Commons on 14th October 1942.

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Mr. Astor:

asked the Minister of Production whether he will take steps to ensure the closest liaison between troops using tanks operationally and those responsible for design and production in order that the lessons of experience can be acted on with the minimum of delay?

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

Machinery already exists which ensures the closest liaison between units using tanks in the field and all concerned with the design and production of the vehicles. These arrangements are constantly under review by the War Office and the Ministry of Supply, in consultation with myself, with a view to studying the criticisms and suggestions of the Fighting Forces and ensuring their application in design and production at the earliest possible moment. There are various channels of communication between the user in the Middle East and development and supply in this country. I would draw the hon. Member's attention in particular to the announcement made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War, on 5th May last, in which he announced the formation of Operational Research Groups working with the Army in the field. Valuable information is also obtained from officers returning from the Middle East, and, in addition, representatives of manufacturers have visited the fighting troops in order to get first-hand information of how their products were behaving and could be improved.

Mr. Astor:

Does that imply that there has been a quickening-up in the situation which some time ago was considered unsatisfactory? Further, does this liaison also exist between American designers and manufacturers of tanks and the troops who use American vehicles?

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

There is an American representative on the Tank Board.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham

How is it possible to have complete and effective liaison if we have such frequent resignations from the Tank Board? If there is no stability at the top, how can there be any liaison?

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

The changes were intended to be an improvement.

Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon South

Then why did Mr. Oliver Lucas resign and come back within 10 days?

Photo of Viscount  Hinchingbrooke Viscount Hinchingbrooke , Dorset Southern

Have any reports been received from any of these operational groups?

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

I have seen reports from such a section, but whether they were under that designation at such time I cannot say.

Photo of Mr Daniel Lipson Mr Daniel Lipson , Cheltenham

Does that mean that officers serving in tank units in the field come back to this country, visit manufacturers and explain their difficulties?

Viscountess Astor:

Can my right hon. Friend say what would have happened if we had set up this Tank Board two years ago?