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Industrial Workers, Portsmouth

Volume 437: debated on Wednesday 14 May 1947

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asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty how many civilian workers are employed in Portsmouth dockyard; their annual cost to the taxpayer; and, in view of the fact that their work is unsatisfactory, if he will institute an inquiry into the circumstances, details of which have been sent to him, and publish the findings as a White Paper.

On a point of Order. Is it in Order to ask a Question which casts a slur on good and faithful workmen who carried on very well during the war?

If the Question passed the Table, I am quite sure it is in Order. What may be behind it is not a question for me.

The number of industrial workers employed in the four main professional departments of Portsmouth Dockyard in the week ending 26th April last was 13,606, the annual cost being approximately £3,622,000. As regards the further points raised in the Question, if the hon. Member will furnish me with specific instances of unsatisfactory work I will have the matter investigated.

In view of the fact that I have sent the Admiralty particulars of what is behind this Question, and in view of the national importance of the efficiency of the Royal Navy these days, will the hon. Gentleman do all he can to stop the ca'canny and the waste of public money in Portsmouth Dockyard?

The information which has been sent by the hon. Member contained nothing of a specific nature at all. It was only based on "the following firsthand and reliable information" of which he gave no detail, and I think it would be an absolute waste of public money to institute an inquiry and to issue a White Paper on a matter which has no foundation whatsoever.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the workers in the Portsmouth Dockyard resent the gratuitous insult on the quality of their work coming from this Member of the Conservative Party? Is he also aware that the three Members of Parliament for Portsmouth are fully capable of representing the city without the unsought and unskilled assistance of the hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers)?

Is it not a fact that Admiral Sir Geoffrey Layton, Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth, has been responsible for fine work—