§ 99. Mr. WALTER ROCH
asked the Minister of Munitions if he can now give a revised estimate of the total cost of the recent Grant of the 12½ per cent. bonus?
§ The MINISTER of MUNITIONS (Mr. Churchill)
It is impossible to give at the present time a precise estimate of the total cost of the recent Grant of the 121/2 per cent. bonus to time-workers in munitions and shipyards. The figure which is frequently quoted of £140,000,000 is, presumably, arrived at by taking one-eighth of the total annual wage bill of the country and adding a considerable sum for contingencies. These figures do not relate to anything that has been done or is contemplated by the Government.
As stated by me in the House on the 28th November, the cost of the original Order, as extended to the skilled and semi-skilled and unskilled workers, was estimated at £14,000,000. This figure covered approximately 900,000 men out of a total of about 1,400,000 time-workers in munitions and shipyards.
Since then the Order has been extended to include certain trades closely connected with those covered by the original Order, notably the iron and steel trade. This extension was not, however, made in a wholesale fashion, but by a definite trade agreement with the industry concerned, and merged certain other advances in the 12½ per cent. advance. It is estimated that these extensions wilt cost approximately £1,000,000.
On the other hand, we have not yet applied the original Order to the whole of those who were included in the estimate which I gave of £14,000,000. At the present moment, therefore, it is probable that the original estimate has not been exceeded in consequence of any decisions which have yet been given. Certain negotiations with other munitions trades who have made claims are in progress, and I do not 493 desire to prejudice these negotiations by any statements at the present time of the cost involved by various solutions.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to imply that £15,000,000 will cover the entire cost of the 12½ per cent. bonus?