§ 35. Mr. CROOKS
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the War Office if he can give any information regarding the 1678 position of employment and proposed discharges at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, and what progress has been made in providing alternative work?
§ 20. Mr. MILLS
asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware of the growing apprehension of the workpeople and the general community in Woolwich as a result of the continuous discharges; and whether any forms of alternative work are contemplated that would open the machine shops already closed?
§ Sir A. WILLIAMSON
The War Office is aware of the apprenhensions referred to. There are still about 19,200 persons employed in all departments at Woolwich Arsenal as compared with 13,700 before the War, while the ample amount of military equipment in store reduces the amount of production required. The position is difficult, but while further discharges are unavoidable, every effort is being made to minimise them during the coming winter by obtaining alternative civilian work. This has relieved the situation in the ordnance factory department, and it is hoped that the number of men it will be necessary to discharge from that department during the winter will be small. This is irrespective of discharges arising from substitutions, so far as it may be possible, of ex-soldiers now employed in other departments for men engaged during the War. There is a considerable surplus of such ex-soldiers in the inspection and other departments.
§ Mr. W. THORNE
Have the Government now made up their minds definitely that they will insist upon the discharge of men over 60 years of age?
§ Sir A. WILLIAMSON
It never was the case that there was a decision to discharge the men over 60 years of age. There were certain men over 60 years of age who were less efficient whom it was necessary to discharge. The Government have to regard the interests of the different classes of men and also to maintain the efficiency of the Arsenal.