§ 14. Viscount CURZON
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he is aware that the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (a State-supported 356 trading organisation, which is the successor of the Navy and Army Canteen Board) are selling goods of every description at ordinary retail prices, less 8 per cent. rebate, but that the rations of the men, formerly issued free, are now supplied by the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes at a profit; and that the profits of the wet canteens are alleged to be as high as 50 per cent. and those in the dry canteens 75 per cent.; and whether the Lords of the Admiralty have sanctioned a system of trading whereby the profits, made out of the men's rations and their spendings in the canteens, are made to counterbalance the losses, if any, due to trading in the shops of the institutes?
§ Following is the reply:
§ My Noble and gallant Friend has, apparently, confused Navy canteen arrangements with those of the Army, and his inquiries are not applicable to Naval canteens. I would explain, however, that the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes is not financed from public funds, and in other respects is in the same position as the tenant canteen firms before the War. It is not, therefore, a State-supported trading organisation. The practice suggested in the first part of the question is certainly not followed by Naval canteens, which only supply foodstuffs, sports' gear, and other articles required by the sailor, the rate of rebate granted on the turnover of these being 10 per cent. in the case of shore establishments at which there are both beer and coffee bars, and 5 per cent. in the case of His Majesty's ships. None of the articles of the Navy standard ration are supplied by the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes. I am not aware of the-percentage of profit obtained by the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes on the various articles sold to the men, this being part of its business organisation as conducted by the board of management, but I understand that they are much less than the rates mentioned in the question. The present organisation of the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes is in accordance with the recommendation of an Inter-departmental Committee, appointed to consider 357 the canteen requirements of the three Services, and in view of the foregoing remarks, the last part of the question does not arise in connection with Naval canteens.