HC Deb 28 October 1919 vol 120 cc468-70
51. Mr. SWAN

asked the Prime Minister if he will consider the advisability of distributing the Government stocks of surplus boots and cloth to the various municipal authorities in the country or co-operative societies at the prices which the Govern- ment paid for the same, so that the same might be sold to the public for public need and at the same time prevent profiteering?


I do not think that municipal authorities are conveniently organised for undertaking retail trade, nor could I undertake to confine the distribution of Government stocks of surplus boots and cloth to co-operative societies. It is open to these societies, and to any other organisation of retail tradesmen or business firms, to tender for Government stores or to purchase at local auctions, and all inquiries from such organisations are welcomed. The Disposal Board does not hold out for the prices at which the goods were purchased by the Government. Its policy is to dispose of surplus stores at the best market prices.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that now these articles are sold to profiteers who add to the prices instead of reducing them to the public?


No, I have no information to justify that statement. This is not a time at which the Government would be justified in selling stores below their proper value.


Are the Government disposed to open retail shops themselves to sell at real market values?


I shudder at the prospect of the Government going into the retail trade.

58. Lieut.-Colonel POWNALL

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if lie is in a position to give the amount realised by the sale of surplus stores for the six months ending 30th September, 1919, as compared with the Budget estimate of the amount of such sale; and if he will say how much is expected to be realised in the current financial year compared with the amount for which he budgeted?


I have been asked to answer this question. The sales of surplus stores (excluding raw materials on trading accounts) for the half-year ended 30th September, so far as the figures have at present come to hand, amount approximately to £45,000,000, as against a total of £76,780,000 allowed for in the Estimates for the whole financial year. I hope that we may eventually realise a total of about £120,000,000 for the year, but my hon. and gallant Friend will appreciate the difficulty of making anything like a close estimate.


What will be the cost of realising these stores?


Obviously offhand I cannot give that information.