§ MR. BOORD
asked the Secretary to the Admiralty, Whether, for several years past, nearly the whole of the mountings for Naval Ordnance, except hydraulic mountings, have been manufactured in the Royal Carriage Department at Woolwich; whether any cause has arisen for dissatisfaction on the part of the Admiralty either with respect to the quality of the work or the charges for manufacture; whether the orders given to the said Department by the Admiralty have been for some few years past slowly diminishing in quantity, and are this year very considerably less than they have ever been previously; and, whether the Admiralty are now sending their orders for such work to private firms, or do they propose that the manufacture shall be undertaken in the Royal Dockyards instead of, as heretofore, in the Royal Arsenal; and, in the event of any such change being in contemplation, what saving to the State is estimated to result therefrom?
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
Up to the end of the financial year 1882–3, nearly all mountings for naval ordnance, except hydraulic mountings, were provided by the War Department, and paid for out of Army Votes; and it is believed that most of them were manufactured in the Royal Carriage Department at Woolwich. The Admiralty had no cause for dissatisfaction with the quality of the work; its cost concerned the War Department only. Last year was the first in which the Admiralty gave direct orders to Woolwich for the manufacture of gun mountings: this year the orders will be somewhat diminished; but I am not in a position to give any pledge as to the source from which the supply will be obtained in future. There is no immediate intention to manufacture mountings in the Dockyards. The object of the change of arrangements has been to make the Admiralty more directly responsible for the provision of gun mountings; and it is believed that advantage will be thereby gained to the Public Service.
§ MR. BOORD
asked the Surveyor General of Ordnance, Whether a considerable discharge of hands from the Royal Carriage Department, to the extent of 200 or 300, is in contemplation; and, if so, whether such reduction is due to the diminution of orders from the Admiralty for naval carriages and slides; and, whether it would be possible in time of slackness to shorten the hours of work in preference to discharging trained hands, thereby distributing the distress likely to be felt on such occasions, and to some extent obviating the injury always sustained by unused machinery?
§ MR. BRAND
Certain reductions in the Royal Carriage Department have taken place owing to a diminution in the number of orders, and others are contemplated on account of alterations in construction, which involve the use of more machinery and less labour. It is undesirable to reduce the number of working hours, as highly skilled artizans will not accept from the Government lower wages than they can obtain in other quarters.