All Are For The State
H. NAPIER MOORE
OUR PARTY of Canadian editors had completed its tour of the Canadian Army and Air Force establishments in Britain. We had had a glimpse of the Royal Navy. There still remained a few days before our scheduled departure. Secretly marvelling over the fact that we still appeared to have some energy left, our mentors at Canada House enquired as to what we would like to do next. We said we’d like to see something of Britain’s war production. We’d like to visit some factories. So the British Ministry of Information took us over. They took us over a large area of western England. They took us to aircraft factories, to aircraft engine factories, to gun factories. They took us to one of several secret underground factories, where, ninety feet below the surface, we spent the best part of a morning walking through lines of modern machinery housed in mammoth man-made caverns; inspecting pastel-tinted canteens capable of feeding not hundreds but thousands of workers. A triumph of subterranean engineering; perfectly ventilated; heated in winter. Its entrances cleverly concealed. The whole perfectly guarded.
The majority of Britain’s factories are on the surface. There are scores of newly constructed plants which merge into the landscape of the rural countryside. Production is dispersed. But an astonishing amount of war material pours from factories which stand where they have stood for many, many years, factories in or close to thickly populated centres. The impressive thing is that they are there. Some have been hit by enemy bombs. Some have had roofs or walls blown away while in some miraculous way their workers kept the machines running. There are some near which stand the ruins of workmen’s houses; street after street demolished. But the workmen were back on their jobs next morning.
Two impressive things. First that, relatively, so few factories have been hit. Second, that in spite of bombings, in spite of transportation problems, in spite of manpower problems, British war production per capita still exceeds that of North America.
To the Canadian who is familiar with North American production methods, first sight of some
It's not Labor. It's not Capital. It's not men. It's not women ; it's the NATION that's at war in Britain
British shops is apt to cause him a moment or two of disappointment. He doesn’t see seemingly endless assembly lines, with finished planes, engines, guns passing out in streams. He does see operations performed in four or five stages which are done all at once at home. He does see a lot of things done by hand which we do by machinery. But he isn’t always wise if he jumps to conclusions. The British do not put too many eggs (and this, of course, is purely a figure of speech—I mean so far as eggs are concerned) into one basket. There can be no system of assembly which, if knocked out, would stymie production of that particular item. It must be dispersed, scattered, so that if one unit is put out of action, the others can take up the slack.
The splitting up of the making of a part into several operations where one could do it arises from the fact that in those days when, under violent aerial attack, Britain stood virtually alone, when production was a matter of life or death, tens of
thousands of women were drafted into industry. Most of them had never seen the inside of a factory. Many had never even seen the outside of one. They were waitresses, barmaids, hairdressers, shop assistants, domestics, school teachers. It was faster to teach them how to do one simple operation by hand than it was to teach them how to handle a complicated machine capable of doing several things at once. And, in any event, the complicated machine hadn’t yet got across from Dundas, Ontario, or Cincinnati, Ohio. And the simple fact is that in every factory we were in, the production target had been greatly exceeded. There was a very low percentage of spoils. The managers and superintendents didn’t just tell us that. They showed us their charts and figures.
There were factories, particularly aircraft engine factories, which easily equalled the best we have on this continent. Some which for precision and beauty of craftsmanship are without equal. And in aerial
operations, beauty of craftsmanship means everything. There are airmen who will tell you seriously that when the story of victory can finally be told, the leading chapter ought to be devoted to the Rolls-Royce engine.
And everywhere, throughout all these plants, women. Women of all ages. Sometimes comprising seventy-five per cent of the personnel. Women swinging heavy ingots or finished gun barrels. Women operating overhead cranes. Women on boring and rifling machines; women doing the intricate wiring of bombers, ol Spits, of Beaufighters which patrol the night skies. Big, hefty women doing a blacksmith’s job. Tiny women, curling into cramped parts of a plane’s structure, driving innumerable rivets.
Well paid? Yes, they are. If they are capable of doing a man’s job without supervision, they get practically a man’s pay. But there is something a little deeper than that. It’s their war.
It’s a community matter, is this war in Britain. On the outskirts of one city we visited there is an anti-aircraft gun plant. They test the guns there, too. Every gun. They start firing at 11.110 in the morning so that the night shifts can get some sleep. From that hour until dusk, the guns are firing. The bang, bang of the initial test shots; the bangbangbangbangbang of the rapid lire test. There is a residential area not far away. Those who live there have to keep their windows open. The concussion would break the glass. And everywhere throughout that city, men and women going about their daily tasks, men and women who have heard it day after day, month after month, halt their conversation to say, “Ah, there’s another good ’un.” That goes on all day. It makes sustained conversation just a little difficult.
Bevin Is Manpower Boss
MANPOWER. Whatof Britain, with a population less than four times that of the Dominion of Canada, maintaining a great army in the Near and Middle East, with divisions flung elsewhere across far oceans; manning a navy which dots the seven seas; supplying a continuous stream of youth to the R.A.F.; manning her home defenses; with some four million men and women attached to her nation-wide fire-fighting and ARP services; with six and a half million women in the armed force auxiliaries and in industry? Manpower. There are many who tell you that Britain has reached the saturation point. Many who are in charge of various phases of production. Ernest Bevin, Britain’s Minister of Labor, is more optimistic.
We had an interview with Mr. Bevin. Short, thick-set, sturdy, he breezed in. Smiling, affable. When he talks, you can hear him. He may occasionally drop an h. A small h. Sometimes, when words rush from him, and when he speaks with warmth, slightly unpolished grammar _ doesn’t bother him one bit — or you either. He is blunt, forthright. He is inclined to be sarcastic about his country’s press. If you ask him about absenteeism, he will tell you that it has been overplayed by the newspapers. If you question him about a strike on some dockside, or in a factory, he will retort, with some impatience, that the newspapers have got to make headlines. Nevertheless, it is generally agreed that as Minister of Labor, Ernest Bevin knows his stuff and has done a pretty sound job all round.
He tells you that just as every department has to go to the Exchequer for money, so, for manpower, for human beings, every department has to go to him. He thinks that Britain has sufficient manpower to meet present targets in industry and still provide men for the armed forces; that there is a reserve in the growing efficiency and skill of the new ranks of labor.
He answers questions about working hours. He has no doubt at all that efficiency and a seventy hour, or even a sixty hour week, don’t go hand in hand. Week-end work has been reduced to a minimum. It is better for output that the worker have Saturday afternoon and Sunday off. When seven-day production is necessary, then the rote
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system is used. “Over fifty-six hours, and there’s nothing in it,” says Mr. Revin. “I’m trying to get things down to a working week of fiftythree, or even fifty-two hours. Remember we are in the fourth year of the war. Most of the virile people have been taken for the forces. Age groups in industry are higher. Fortyseven is the average age among the Liverpool dockworkers. In the building trades the average age is from forty-five to forty-six.”
Someone asks about coal shortage; the problems in the mining industry. The trouble, he replies, lies in the fact that for so many years coal mining was a depressed industry. Conditions were bad. There was no recruitment. Young men went away from the pit areas. The age of the miners who remained was high, very high. They had to work bad seams, because coal was needed. Seams two or three feet high. “Pretty tough,” said Mr. Bevin. But production was increasing.
Wages? War increases? Well, mining wages had been advanced, but the increases were not regarded as war increases. It was a question of remedying an insufficient pre-war basic rate. That also was true of agricultural wages; of the increases granted to 10,000 railway employees. Of wages as a whole, the total general increase was about twenty-eight per cent; but earnings were up by fortyseven and a half per cent. Living costs were up twenty-nine per cent. And output was up forty-five per cent.
Came another question. “Mr. Bevin, what about Labor after the war?” Mr. Bevin swung round in his chair. “Why,” said he, “why will you insist on segregating Labor. Why segregate Capital? Why segregate Women? Why segregate Men? Why don’t you just ask what of the NATION after the war? For it’s the NATION that is at war.”
Then he went on to tell of the committees engaged in studying postwar rehabilitation and reconstruction; of reports that have been or will be made to the Government. I Whether all the recommendations would be accepted was another matter. But of one thing Mr. Bevin was very sure a nation which has stood shoulder to shoulder throughout such adversity as Britain has withstood isn’t going to be divided in the matter of peacetime social ; security.
Lights On For Churchill
ON THE morning following the night on which Prime Minister Winston Churchill arrived in London, after his visit to Moscow and to the Mediterranean front, the newspapers came out with headlines which at first glance seemed rather trivial. They said, “Arc Lights at Station Greet Churchill.” Then one realized that it was the first time in more than three years that there had been any sort of major illumination in a London station. It lasted for but a few seconds as photographers snapped Churchill as he descended from the train. For the British public wants constantly to know how he looks.
I can’t tell you how he looked that night, but I can tell you how he looked a week or two later when, together with my Canadian colleagues, I met and talked with him in his own office. He looked as fit as a fiddle. He had just got back from a few days’ rest in the country. His complexion was as clear as a child’s, his face unlined, his brow unfurrowed. His hair may be a trifle thinner, a trifle greyer than when he stood in the Commons Chamber in Ottawa. But as he came from behind his desk to greet us as we entered, there was a spring to his step, a tilt to his head, a buoyancy to his being which in a flash reveals that Churchill is still Winston. He is still Winston to the masses of Britain. When they start calling him Mr. Churchill, you will know he’s slipping.
He wore his black, double-breasted coat, his grey striped trousers, his bow tie; the garb of Westminster. He wore his cigar. There is something mysterious, something special, about those Churchill cigars. They always seem to have been freshly lit. They never seem to get any shorter. Few people seem to be able to recall seeing j him with a butt.
Individually, we were introduced by Hon. Vincent Massey. Mr. Churchill makes sure that he gets a name right. When he shakes hands with you he does so with a firm clasp. When he says anything to you he looks you straight in the eye. Having
passed down the line, he stands, leaning on the front of his desk. And you have a feeling that he knows exactly which one of you is apt to ask a question he might not want to answer. He takes the cigar from his mouth, gazes musingly at the curling smoke. He begins to talk. Quietly, slowly. More than when listening to him over the radio, or from a platform, you sense the slight lisp. It disappears as the sentences flow. I can’t record what he said, for the interview was off the record. I can say that he spoke as a realist, as one aware that there are grim days yet ahead. He spoke with confidence of the ultimate result; a confidence that has never wavered; a confidence in the people of his land and in their determination to see a thing through ; a confidence in their allies within and without the Empire. There isn’t anything new in that last sentence. You have heard Mr. Churchill say those very things in his own words, yourself. But it’s just a little different to be with a very small group in his own office while he speaks informally.
Big Job For Woolton
IN A London revue comedian Jack Hulbert sings two numbers which send the audiences into fits. One deals with what purports to be the only three subjects of British conversation: “Shopping, Eating
and the Nine O’Clock News.” The other, devoted to rationing, has a refrain which goes, “You Only Want It ’Cause You Cannot Get It.”
When you go to interview Lord Woolton you go to see the man who is often in the nine o’clock news, but who is invariably associated in the British mind with eating, with shopping for things to eat, and with the desire to have something because you can’t get it. He is Britain’s Minister of Food. Food is an inseparable part of the war effort; of the very life of the nation. The task of feeding the Army, the Navy, the 'Air Force is colossal. So is the task of feeding the war industrial workers, their wives and children; of feeding the population generally. It is Lord Woolton’s job to find the food and to distribute it fairly. It was his job to devise and administer the ration system. The point system is his. He has changed the eating habits of the whole nation. He has ordained that this or that must be done without. And throughout the length and breadth of Britain you won’t find anyone who will tell you anything but that Woolton has done a marvellous job. He is referred to by no nickname. Yet he is, next to Churchill, the most popular man in the Cabinet. The public has implicit ¡ faith in his fairness, confidence in ; his standards. When you meet and talk with him, you know why.
Few men in public life have impressed me as much as did Woolton. He is around sixty, of a little more than average height. He has a fine, keen head; a good nose. He is softly but firmly spoken. He is courteous, treating the most junior employee in the manner of gentleman to gentleman. He knows precise’y what he wants, and gets it. He knows precisely what needs to be done, and does it. He knows nothing whatever about politics and is seemingly in-
different to the art. He knows his job.
By training he is a businessman. After his pre-peerage name, Frederick James Marquis, he could put the letters M.A., B.Sc. Fie was chairman of Lewis, Limited, the great Liverpool departmental store, with branches in Manchester and Birmingham. He was treasurer of Idverpool University, chairman of the Liverpool Medical Research Council. He was a director of Martin’s Bank, of the Royal Insurance Company, of numerous other corporations and institutions. In the last war he was with the War Office, a member of the Allied Commission on Raw Materials.
For most of the period of this war he has been FIritain’s Food Administrator. His department buys all imported food and distributes it. It buys all wheat, cattle, sheep and pigs produced in England. Its turnover in food supplies amounts to 660,000,000 pounds sterling per year, and half of that total represents produce raised or grown in England itself. It pays out in food subsidies some 120,000,000 pounds sterling a year. It controls prices of all important food items. It is responsible for the distribution of tea throughout the world.
Its basic idea of rationing is to feed people in their homes with just enough to keep the population right; to see that the worker gets one good, substantial meal per day off the ration. The latter object is achieved through the medium of factory canteens, excellently run, with priorities on supplies, and, in the case of places too small to justify a canteen, by the provision in the vicinity of British Restaurants. The British Restaurant grew out of the Blitz. Now there are 1,724, and they are increasing at the rate of sixty a month. In 1,005 of them are served 2,036,600 meals a day. They are good meals. They cost a maximum of one shilling and fourpence. In the main they are served by volunteer help.
The factory canteens, as I have said, are excellent. I was in one which can serve at the rate of 1,200 meals in twelve minutes. We had soup, meat loaf and vegetables, a pudding and coffee for one shilling and twopence. On whatever spanground they have, factories grow their own vegetables. More than that. In the grounds of one ordnance plant we visited, they took us, with zest and joy, to inspect a herd of pigs. And on a created pond there were flocks of geese, all destined for the factory canteen.
Not only behind such things as home growing has Woolton been the inspiration. Fie has changed the British diet. He is teaching the British housewife how to cook substitutes so that they will be appetizing, tasty. The meat ration is still one shilling and twopence worth a week. There isn’t much meat outside Army, Navy and Air Force barracks. But there is, at the moment, a plentiful supply of cheese. So the cheese ration has been doubled. And, by radio and advertising campaigns, by the sending of demonstrators from town to town, the housewife is being taught that you can do many things with cheese in addition to putting a slab
of it between slices of bread. They are being shown that it can he used instead of meat. It is being made part of the British diet.
Cheese is but one item. Constantly the ministry is furthering scientific research regarding proper substitutes for foods which are unavailable. In spite of the lack of so many things, in spite of shortages in others, nutrition for many millions of people in Britain is better today than it has ever been. The people are understanding food. Their food habits, Lord Woolton thinks, have been permanently altered.
What is the dominant thing in Woolton’s mind?
Shipping. That is why he is so very keen on powdered egg, which is going over from Canada in large quantities. It’s an excellent substitute. You can’t fry it sunny side up. You can’t knock its top off. But you can scramble it, or make an omelette or cake with it. And, most important
of all, 80,000 tons of dried egg give as much food value as 2,100,000 tons of feedstuff for hens—and take up vastly less shipping space.
Britain’s New Currency
OF THE points system, Lord Woolton will tell you that points j have become a new currency—a managed currency. It controls the Í supply of and the demand for foodj stuffs not covered by the basic ration. Woolton says it also is a game. | Psychologically based on the innate gambling spirit of the British people. “They say to each other,” he smiled,
“ ‘Well, I wonder what I ought to buy with my points today. I’ve a notion that old Woolton is going to stick up the points on pink salmon, j so we’ll lay in a tin of that!’ Then 1 fool them by perhaps lowering the j points on pink salmon and raising them on something else. Their reaction is, ‘Well, Old Woolton diddled us after all. But we’ll get him tomorrow j on something else.’ All in high
humor. But we do achieve the purpose.”
That’s Woolton, businessman,
Cripps a Religious Man
IN ONE respect Sir Stafford Cripps and Beverley Baxter have something in common. In the case of neither can a photographer produce a portrait which shows them as they j really are.
We went to see Cripps, Lord Privy Seal. We spent an hour with him. He has a much more attractive, i much less heavily lined face than his j pictures would indicate. His smile is j friendly, warm. His speech, clear and j fluent, flows from a keen, an alert I brain. You know on meeting him j why he was so successful as a legal j counsel. You know also why he chucked his fat fees. He prefers to he on the side of the little fellow. He prefers a crusade. And you cannot doubt his sincerity.
We talked of his mission to Russia; of his mission to India and his failure there. I am sorry to have to disappoint you again hut that conversation was also off the record.
Then we turned to the church. For a day or two before, in Bristol, a short time ago a city of churches—
I say a short time ago, because many of Bristol’s churches were demolished in its twenty - nine blitzes — Sir Stafford had made a speech in w'hich he declared his conviction that the : church had failed to give the leadership expected of it; that it must be reawakened to a realization of its responsibilities to the people. So that isn’t off the record. And Sir Stafford repeated what he had said, with calm intensity. He thinks that the disestablishment of the Church of England is near; that it must j get away from the State as a sort of preferential Order, as a protocol, as an official priority, as it were; that it must enter to a greater extent into the lives of everyday people by living life with them.
He is a deeply religious man, is Cripps. For principle he has sacrificed great material advantages. Baxter seems to think he may abandon politics and launch a great religious crusade. I do not know. But whatever he does, I don’t think I shall doubt his sincerity.
Amery Deep in Work
YVTE HAD an hour with the Rt.
TT Hon. L. S. Amery, Secretary of State for India and Burma. I have talked with him in London on several journevings to Imperial Conferences. Each time he has held a different portfolio. And, as always, he was steeped in the subject of his immediate concern. He has an amazing capacity for absorption. He is widely ! travelled. In appearance he hasn’t ¡ changed a hair in twenty years. Having supplied us with a graphic picture of the various conflicting elements in India, he walked to the door with us and said, “I wish the war was over so that I could go back to Canada and climb some more mountains.”
World’s Greatest Fire Chief
LIKE Amery, Herbert Morrison is a man of small stature with a heavy job. He is slower of speech; cautious in his utterances. That, no doubt, because he is Minister of Home Security. He also is Home Secretary; titular head of Scotland Yard. But as Minister of Home Security he is the head of Britain’s Civil Defense. His job embraces the direction of police services, of A.R.P. services, of the nations fire-fighting services, road repairs, maintenance of gas, electrical and water supplies; ambulance services, rescue services; the provision of air-raid shelters; the direction of research and experimental work in connection with airraid protection. It was by his edict that fire-watching duty for women was made compulsory. It caused rows. It produced protests. But Herbert Morrison has sat tight, unperturbed. He is used to rows. He has a Labor background.
Under the Minister, home security is administered by a Cabinet committee from wdiich offshoot twelve regional commissioners. The regional commissioners might be described as the middlemen between the Government and the local authorities within each region. Representatives from the Ministry of Supply and other ministries as well as government technical staffs are at their disposal. But in the event of a blitz, when necessary, or in the event of an invasion, these regional commissioners have power to practically command the civilian population.
And don’t forget that all Britain’s fire-fighting services have been welded into one National Fire-Fighter Service, expanded to the point where it is the biggest and the most experienced in the world. A substantial proportion of its personnel are full-
time, paid fire fighters. But a vastly greater number are unpaid, parttime, volunteer workers, well trained for their jobs.
Night after night they are at the alert in every corner of Britain. When, from the skies, the Hun strikes again in force, and nobody doubts he will, they will be ready.
And, in the heavily guarded premises of the Home Office, there sits Herbert Morrison, holding all the strings. To be Concluded