HC Deb 24 January 1918 vol 101 cc1142-3
35 and 70. Mr. GWYNNE

asked (1) the First Commissioner of Works whether his. attention has been called to the fact that his Department are offering for sale old materials, including brass, copper, zinc, and which are now lying in the various depots of the Office of Works in and around London; why these metals cannot be transferred direct to the Ministry of Munitions instead of being sold first to a contractor, who melts them down and eventually resells them to the Ministry of Munitions, seeing that in this way the Government would avoid the profit of at least one dealer and unnecessary labour in advertising and disposing of the goods;. (2) the Minister of Munitions whether he is aware that the Office of Works are inviting tenders from dealers and others for the purchase of old metals, including brass, copper, zinc, and iron, which they have in the depots in and around London; and if he can arrange to purchase these direct instead of waiting till they have passed through the hands of one or more dealers?

Sir WORTHINGTON EVANS (Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Munitions)

I am aware that sales of scrap are being made from depots under the control of the First Commissioner of Works. As regards scrap iron, it has not been found desirable to purchase, but only to stimulate removal to scrap yards. Scrap iron has to be sorted as to quality and, when necessary, broken to furnace sizes before it is useful either in steel furnaces or in foundries. The quantities of non-ferrous scrap offered are small, and generally require sorting, grading, and cutting up. It is considered that the best results are obtained by controlling prices and employing experts to supervise general arrangements. The trade organisations are in a position to tap sources of supply and to undertake sorting, etc., in a more satisfactory way than a new,organisation could do, and it appears better, therefore, to allow such trade to follow normal channels.


Is my hon. Friend going to adopt the same procedure whether -those supplies be large or small? Cannot he say that the Government will save the middleman's profits?


The only way to save the middleman's profits is to do the work departmentally, and that would probably cost a great deal more than the middleman's profits, and probably not be as efficient.