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Woolwich Arsrnal

Volume 92: debated on Tuesday 20 March 1917

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asked the Minister of Munitions whether he is aware that men of many years' service in Woolwich Arsenal are being released for the Army while younger men, some of them single, with much less service are being retained; whether he is satisfied that the method of selecting the men to be released leaves no opportunity for the practice of favouritism; and whether he is aware of the case of a man who has been ordered to join the Army early next month, who has been in the Arsenal for sixteen years and only lost one hour since the outbreak of war, and who when he goes will leave behind single men with only two years' service?

In selecting men to-be released for military service in the Ordnance Factories at Woolwich the rule is that men of equal skill are released only in order of age, single men being taken before married men. The Minister is satisfied that this rule is observed by the management. It is essential that the management should retain the power of keeping single men in preference to married men in those cases where the single men are better qualified for the work which has to be done. I have not been able to trace any such case as that referred to in the last part of my right hon. Friend's question, but if he will send me precise details I will have inquiries made.

44 and 58.

asked the Minister of Munitions (1) if he is aware that instructions have been given that viewers in future will not be allowed to work in the town in which they reside, and that Woolwich viewers who have moved their homes and families to Birmingham will not be allowed to work in Birmingham; that they will not be allowed the option of travelling to and from their homes and foregoing the subsistence allowance, but must take lodgings in the town where they are working; and whether he will take steps to remove these restrictions; and (2) if he is aware that, under Departmental Order No. 300, issued from Woolwich, the viewers employed in the Birmingham inspection department have had their wages reduced by 4s. 3d. per week and their conditions of employment made worse; and whether he will inquire into this matter with the object of at least increasing their pay to what it was previous to the order being issued?

These questions refer to the War Office Inspection Department. The object of the new order is to secure uniformity of treatment for all the viewers employed under the inspection department, the headquarters of which are at Woolwich Dockyard. The decision has been arrived at after full consideration.

Is not this an example of the extravagance of the Department which sends men from the town where they were living to a place where they have to be paid subsistence allowance?

It was rather late in the, day when this question reached the War Office and I had no opportunity of looking at the Order which has been made. However, if my hon. Friend will put the question I will look into the matter more fully.