HC Deb 12 May 1903 vol 122 cc418-9
CAPTAIN NORTON (Newington, W.)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been directed to an exhibition held in Manchester and Leeds under the patronage of the First Lord of the Treasury, the Commander in-Chief, and other official persons; whether he is aware that Government property lent by the War Office has not been returned; and, seeing that the promoter of this exhibition is an undischarged bankrupt and an ex-convict, can he say what steps, if any, were taken to ascertain the position of this man; what sums, if any, have been handed over to the naval and military authorities, what was the advertised object of these exhibitions; and will he say what steps it is proposed to take for the recovery of the Government property lent, and for the payment due to the different regimental bands for their services.


My attention has been directed to this case. As regards the War Department property lent to the exhibitions, the application came, in the first instance, from the proprietors of the United Service Gazette; due security was taken for the goods by means of a personal guarantee and of an "all risk" insurance policy at Lloyd's, and no loss, therefore, can fall on public funds. As regards the money taken at the exhibitions, I am not aware that any sums have been handed over for charitable purposes. As regards the military bands, the proprietors of the United Service Gazette have been asked for an explanation, but have not up to date replied. I feel, in view of what has occurred in this and some other cases, it will be necessary to lay down that in future no War Office exhibits will be sent to any but national exhibitions or to exhibitions which have a genuine and close connection with the Army.


The right hon. Gentleman has not answered as to what steps, if any, were taken to ascertain the position of this man, who purported to be the proprietor of the United Service Gazette, and who was an undischarged bankrupt and ex-convict.


AS I say, the steps taken were to communicate with the proprietors of the United Service Gazette, who were the originators of the application, and having satisfied ourselves as to their being men of substance and responsibility, we did not go further into the question of their standing.


I will call attention to this matter on the Estimates.

MR. FLYNN (Cork N.)

May I ask what the intelligence officers of the War Department said about it?


Order, order.