15 MAY 1936, Page 2

Arms Manufacture and the State The complexity of the task

of the Royal Commission on the Private Manufacture of Arms was considerably increased by the vigour with which Sir Maurice Hankey, giving evidence last Friday, traversed the argument of two Ministers of Munitions, Mr. Lloyd George and Dr. Addison, in favour of a State monopoly. Sir Maurice speaking as Secretary to the Committee of Imperial Defence, gave it as his considered view that but for the expansion of output which the existence of private firms made possible this country would have lost the War, its liberty and its Empire. It is valuable to have the ease for private manufacture thus put at its highest, and by a public servant with no personal or pecuniary interest in the industry. But Sir Maurice's testimony has to be weighed against the experience of the two Ministers of Munitions already quoted, and the impressive evidence on the other side skilfully marshalled by Mr. Noel Baker at an earlier sitting. Last week, moreover, a service witness, Captain L. G. IL Llewellyn, a former Inspector of Naval Ordnance at Woolwich. declared that the Government could and did manufacture more cheaply than private firms, and that " secrecy in private manufacture was difficult, if not impossible." This is a grave allegation if it can be substantiated, and the witness did cite facts in support of it.