HC Deb 17 December 1919 vol 123 cc400-1
45. Brigadier-General CROFT

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the complaints that have been made in regard to the sixteen controllers disposing of surplus stores under the Disposal Board not possessing any technical knowledge of the particular stores they are dealing with, he will say if one of these controllers is a junior Civil Service clerk lent to the Ministry of Munitions by the Board of Education, where he was employed as an inspector of schools; and, if so, whether he will inquire as to the special technical knowledge possessed by the other fifteen controllers?


I have been asked to answer this question. I am not aware of the complaints referred to by my hon. and gallant Friend. Of the total of eighteen controllers who are disposing of surplus stores under the Disposal Board, fourteen had acquired technical knowledge of the stores with which they are dealing prior to their association with the work of disposals, and four were engaged during the War on the purchase or production of the stores they are now handling, of which they consequently possess an intimate knowledge.. None of the controllers is a junior Civil Service clerk. One was one of His Majesty's inspectors of schools under the Board of Education and has been on loan from that Department to the Ministry since its inception in 1915. Prior to the Armistice this official acted as Deputy-Controller in the Department of the Ministry dealing with obsolete and surplus stores, and the duties of his present post have been discharged to the Minister's complete satisfaction. An inquiry into the qualification of the controllers of the Disposal Board was made in each case before the appointment was derided upon.

Brigadier-General CROFT

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is the greatest unrest amongst business men in regard to the conduct of their business by these controllers?


I am not aware of that.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, money lenders have circularised the public offering the loan of money to secure the bargains of the Disposal Board?


I shall be extremely glad to see one of those circulars, because the usual charge against us is that we have been profiteering.