HC Deb 26 February 1920 vol 125 cc1894-5
27. Major GLYN

asked the Prime Minister whether, on account of the general uncertain political situation of the world, it has been necessary to alter the original Estimates of the quantity of war material and stores that have to be held in reserve in this country and throughout the British Empire; whether this fact has necessitated the return to military and naval authorities of considerable surplus stores previously available for sale; whether, in spite of this, over 165 million pounds' worth of stores and 125 million pounds' worth of raw material has been sold since last November: and is it possible to spare any further shipping from other purposes to weekly transport more than the 20,000 tons from French to British ports?


The estimates of the total quantity of war material and stores that have to be held in reserve have not increased; on the contrary, they have decreased. The political situation of the world had not affected the question of reserves.

The point raised in the second part of the question docs not therefore arise. The figures given in the third part of the question are approximately correct for sales during the period since the Armistice in November, 1918, and not November, 1919, as stated in the question.

With regard to shipping facilities, ships are not used for the conveyance of stoves from France except for the carriage of M.T. vehicles and M.T. spare parts. It is not considered possible to spare shipping from other important national services, which is, however, supplemented by the use of barges wherever possible. Ordinary stores are dealt with entirely by barge and Channel ferry. There are sufficient barges employed on this service to bring away surplus stores from France as rapidly as they can be moved to the French ports.


Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that there is no serious waste going on by the delay in getting rid of these stores in France?


A representative of the Ministry of Munitions is over there, and I shall be in a better position to say when he comes back.