Mr William Bridgeman: It has now been definitely decided that the Air Ministry shall take over Pembroke Dockyard as an Air Station. The development of this as of any other air base must of course be a gradual process, but I understand that the Air Ministry are proceeding with the preliminary arrangements.
Mr William Bridgeman: No, Sir. That is a matter for the Air Ministry, and not for my Department. As I have said, and as my hon. and gallant Friend the Parliamentary Secretary said before, it will take some little time to develop the air base. They are beginning now, and any other questions regarding the rapidity of the progress of the work must be addressed to the Secretary of State for Air and not to me.
Mr William Bridgeman: The statement in the first part of the question is without foundation, and the second part does not therefore arise.
Mr William Bridgeman: Arrangements are being made to relieve apprentices entered in future of the expense of providing these jerseys by a readjustment of kits to include necessary recreational clothing. I am not satisfied that any case has been made out for a refund of money.
Mr William Bridgeman: There may have been some irregularity in this, but the saving to the apprentices out of kit upkeep allowance in having these jerseys to wear when playing games instead of their ordinary clothes, will fully make up for any extra expense to which they may be put.
Mr William Bridgeman: I am afraid I cannot give the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Gillett) any details as to this excess expenditure on contract work. It very often happens that, for some reason or another, work proceeds more rapidly or more slowly than was originally expected. Sometimes the progress of work depends on the weather, and there may be other reasons. The hon. Member asked for an assurance that the...
Mr William Bridgeman: I do not know about that, but at any rate the Government are not going to pay twice.
Mr William Bridgeman: I am glad to be able to assure the hon. and gallant Member that the position is not as suggested in the first part of his question. In the case of ratings invalided, pay, allotment and marriage allowance are continued for 28 days from the date of the medical survey and in all normal cases the question of pension or gratuity is settled during this period. It occasionally happens that a rating...
Mr William Bridgeman: I will certainly do my best to expedite the matter. I am sorry that the hon. and gallant Member's communication had not come to my notice before I drafted my reply.
Mr William Bridgeman: I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given on the 14th February (OFFICIAL REPORT, column 561) to the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Hore-Belisha).
Mr William Bridgeman: Work on ships building will proceed. But as the hon. and gallant Member is aware it is not proposed to lay down ships of the 1929 programme until towards the end of the financial year.
Mr William Bridgeman: It would be rather premature to take any such steps until we know exactly what the proposals are.
Mr William Bridgeman: I am very much opposed to taking action prematurely in a case like this, not only because it would not improve our chances of agreement, but also because it would probably disturb work throughout the dockyards.
Mr William Bridgeman: All that passed between the Marquis and myself at Madrid were two cards, one bearing my name which I left at his office, and the other bearing his which was left for me at the British Embassy.
Mr William Bridgeman: I was on my way back from an official visit to the Fleet at Gibraltar. I had to spend a few hours at Madrid, and a short part of that time was spent in this exchange of courtesies.
Mr William Bridgeman: The figures as regards employés in the industrial classes are 10,831 in 1914, 15,071 in 1928, and 15,436 in 1929. The figures for the non-industrial classes are 549 in 1914, 990 in 1928, and 976 in 1929.
Mr William Bridgeman: I cannot give a detailed answer to that question. A large amount of the increase is caused by the increase of the Mediterranean Fleet at Malta, where the majority of the workmen are local men.
Mr William Bridgeman: Some of the places where men are required would not be suitable for dockyard men from home. If they desire to go, I should he quite prepared to consider the advisability of their going, but the conditions are not suitable in some cases.
Mr William Bridgeman: I hope to be accommodated in the Flagship of the Mediterranean Fleet.
Mr William Bridgeman: No.