Ceisteanna.—Questions. Oral Answers. - The Drumm Battery.

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce whether he will state what progress has been made in the exploitation of the Drumm Battery for transport purposes and whether supplies of the battery are likely to be available in the near future for such purposes.

The Drumm Battery as at present developed is, I understand, a compromise between the performance as represented by the original batteries and the standard of performance set for the company by Messrs. Edison (U.S.A.). Efforts towards commercial exploitation of this battery have not been successful, and none of the alkaline battery manufacturers with whom contact was established have tested out the cells in final form.

Capital sums advanced to the company total £146,300 and with accrued interest its indebtedness to the Minister for Finance has now reached £181,557. Even if it were practicable to continue to spend money on the battery in anticipation of its utilisation and in anticipation of defects being remedied, the question of a supply of raw materials for commercial exploitation would be a pertinent one, and is understood to present certain difficulties.

After consideration of the position of the company in all its aspects, and having informed the company that the State must not be involved in further expenditure, I was informed that the directors had before them evidence indicating that further progress towards commercial development on a satisfactory basis was not possible under war conditions. Arrangements were subsequently made to suspend the activities of the company until conditions are favourable. During the suspension period necessary patents will be kept alive.