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Ministry Of Supply

Volume 465: debated on Monday 30 May 1949

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Royal Ordnance Factories

11.

asked the Minister of Supply in how many Royal Ordnance factories schemes for sick leave with full pay have been started; and what has been the rate of absenteeism subsequently as compared with the previous rate.

Month1948–19491947–19481946–19471945–19461944–19451943–1944
Per cent.Per cent.Per cent.Per cent.Per cent.Per cent.
September3·52·53·04·75·76·2
October5·12·83·25·25·86·4
November6·02·93·45·35·47·4
December6·12·72·95·15·37·6
January7·63·24·56·16·77·2
February8·13·15·05·56·16·5
March9·02·74·34·85·36·1
April7·12·43·03·64·75·3

14.

asked the Minister of Supply why the labour cost in the production in Royal Ordnance factories of electrical ceramics, mining machinery and oilfield equipment in 1947–48 was, respectively, 105 per cent., 82 per cent. and 72 per cent. above the estimate.

The Royal Ordnance factories undertook this work to meet acute shortages of supplies in this country. The type of production was a specialised one, of which they had had no previous experience.

Does the Minister appreciate that the Auditor-General called attention to these figures in his recent report, and does he think that a private

As the answer contains a number of figures I will, with the hon. and gallant Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Is the Minister aware that since the scheme was brought in at the Royal Ordnance Factory at Pontypool the absenteeism on sick leave has risen from 3 per cent. to 17 per cent., and does he think that we can afford that sort of thing at the present time?

Following is the answer:

The scheme for paid sick leave for Government industrial employees applies to all Royal Ordnance factories and came into operation in September, 1948. The following table shows the percentage of working days lost by industrial employees of the Royal Ordnance factories on account of absence covered by medical certificate in each of the eight months following the introduction of the scheme, with comparable figures for the preceding five years:

business would get very far on that kind of estimating?

These are special jobs, usually for short runs, carried out in order to remove some acute shortage which has been holding up some export or other, and the Ordnance factories have not been making these goods under ordinary commercial conditions.

Official Car Service

12.

asked the Minister of Supply how many of the 37 new cars purchased for the official car service this year are for the purpose of replacing old cars; what mileages have these old cars completed; and how they are being disposed of.

Twenty-six. Twenty-three of the cars being replaced had been previously used by the Services and there is no record of their total mileage. The remaining three, which are 10 h.p. models, have each completed about 50,000 miles. The old cars which cannot be repaired economically for reissue to Government Departments will be sold by auction.

Does not the answer show that the service is still expanding quite unnecessarily, and that old cars are being disposed of before they have done a proper mileage?

Can the Minister say why it is not possible to show what mileage a Service vehicle has done? That is something new.

Apparently their mileages are not all recorded, or the speedometers are faulty.

13.

asked the Minister of Supply what approximate period of time elapses between his placing an order for a new car for the official car service and its receipt by him from the makers.

New cars for the official car service are included in orders placed by the Ministry of Supply for cars for all Government Departments. First delivery begins about six months after the placing of an order and it takes from nine to 18 months to complete the order.

Is it not the case that in view of the short time that elapses, namely, only six months, the Minister of Supply is able to secure a considerable priority through his influence over steel allocations?

Printing Machinery

17.

asked the Minister of Supply whether, having regard to the obsolescence of much of the printing-plant in this country, and the consequent disadvantage at which British trade and technical journals are placed in competition with similar periodicals published overseas, he will permit the retention in this country of sufficient printing-plant to replace machinery no longer capable of high-standard production.

During the last six months more printing machinery has been available to the home market, owing to increased production. My Department is at present reviewing the distribution, in consultation with the Board of Trade, to see what further help can be given to British printers.

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise what valuable ambassadors trade journals of this kind can be, if properly produced, and that they will not fulfil that function if they are not properly produced?