It is the constant aim of my right hon. Friend and the Supply Ministers that production should be concentrated to the maximum extent practicable on equipment of the newest and most efficient types.
The transfer of production capacity to new types has, of course, to be arranged so as to secure the fullest effective use of plant and labour both during the transition period and in the build-up of the new production lines. My hon. Friend can rest assured that every effort is made to ensure that all such changeovers are made as soon and as quickly as possible.
In view of the fact that the recent call-up will create something of a critical situation in certain parts of the war industries in this country, can the hon. Gentleman say whether the regrouping scheme will have the effect desired in the Question; and will his right hon. Friend consider the possibility of making a quick survey of war industries not engaged on effective aircraft, tanks and guns?
The re-grouping scheme has a great many objects besides those which are mentioned in the Question of the hon. Gentleman, but the object of his Question will be served to some extent by this scheme.
Can the hon. Gentleman give an assurance that there are no great factories in this country to-day using an enormous amount of man-power engaged upon weapons which have proved to be obsolete in the light of recent battles?
Yes, Sir. I think that that assurance can be given, but at the same time there are weapons which are obsolescent and there are degrees of obsolescence, and it is impossible, and it is not always desirable, the moment a weapon becomes obsolescent, to cease production of that weapon.