6 JANUARY 1912, Page 11

A curious situation has arisen in connexion with the Thames

Ironworks Company. The Admiralty, it appears, has been negotiating with a northern shipbuilding firm for the building of two cruisers at the Thames Ironworks on the basis of a nine hours' day, but neither Mr. Smart, the Receiver and Manager of the Thames Ironworks, nor Mr. Arnold Hills was aware of the negotiations until Friday week. Mr. Smart accordingly wrote to the First Lord stating his intention to take the earliest possible opportunity of obtaining the direction of the Court on the offer of the northern firm to purchase the company, but adding that he is willing to become an Admiralty contractor for the express purpose of building the two cruisers, that he is prepared to give the necessary financial guarantees and other proofs of preparedness, and that the work can be started at once, without the intervention by any other firm, on the existing conditions of labour, viz., an eight hours' day. Mr. Arnold Hills has also written to the Press to point out the curious inconsistency on the part of a Govern- ment which has adopted the eight hours' day in the Royal dockyards, and enforced it in the coal mines, using a promise of work to impose a nine hours' day on London.