§ 7. Captain Viscount CURZON
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the Government handed over to the Slough Trading Company for disposal, as part of the War surplus under the agreement with the company, dated the 9th April, 1920, all or sonic part of the mechanical transport vehicles and spares of the British forces in occupation of Ireland; how many lorries and cars, and what quantities of spares, were so handed over; on what date those vehicles and spares were declared surplus; and whether the Slough Trading Company were liable to make any and, if so, what payment to the Government for them, in addition to the sum of £3,350,000 originally fixed by the agreement for the purchase of the mechanical transport war surplus?
§ Mr. BALDWIN
Under the agreement referred to all mechanical transport vehicles and spares surplus in Ireland on the 7th April, 1920, and becoming surplus for two years thereafter, were sold to the Slough Trading Company. I regret that, with the present depleted clerical staff, it is not feasible to undertake the scrutiny of accounts which would be necessary to supply the information required in the second and third parts of the question. As regards the fourth part of the question, the agreement with the Slough Trading Company provides for a share of the receipts for mechanical transport being paid to the Government, when those receipts amount to over £5,000,000. I may add that the sum paid 1252 by the Slough Trading Company for mechanical transport and spares was £3,650,000 not £3,350,000.
§ Mr. HARRIS
Have other trading companies an opportunity of tendering for these supplies or has this company a monopoly for surplus motors?
§ 50. Viscount CURZON
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, under the contract between the Government and the Slough Trading Company, dated the 9th April, 1920, for the sale of mechanical transport war surplus, the Government are entitled to receive any payments for surplus lorries and stores sold by the company after the 6th April, 1922; and whether he can state the number of lorries and quantities of stores handed over to the company under the agreement and still remaining unsold by the company?
§ Mr. BALDWIN
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. With regard to the second part of the question, I would refer my Noble and gallant. Friend to the answer that I gave on the 7th instant to the hon. and gallant Member for Hulme (Lieut.-Colonel Nall).
§ 51. Viscount CURZON
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that, in order to prevent the return to America of American-built war-surplus motor lorries, the United States Government imposed a 90 per cent. import tariff upon them: how many of such American-built war-surplus lorries have been sold by the British Government for use in the United Kingdom, and what was the average price realised per vehicle: how many of such lorries remain in the hands of the Disposal Board; and whether he can suggest any method of disposing of them which will avoid the sale by a British Government Department of foreign manufactures in competition with British manufactures?
§ Mr. BALDWIN
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. With regard to the second part of the question, the preparation of the return called for would necessarily involve a scrutiny of the records of sales spread over a period of four years, and I regret that it is not feasible to undertake 1253 this work with the present depleted clerical staff. With regard to the third and fourth parts of the question, only 265 lorries of American manufacture remain in the hands of the Disposal and Liquidation Commission in this country, and I think my Noble and gallant Friend will agree that the sale of such a comparatively small number of lorries cannot exercise serious influence on the market for second-hand or new lorries of home manufacture.
§ Viscount CURZON
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the disposal of all these surplus war lorries is very gravely affecting the British commercial motor vehicle industry, in which there is a large number of men out of work?
§ Mr. STEPHEN
Could not the right hon. Gentleman get the services of some of the discharged ex-service men at Kew, in order not to have this depleted clerical staff?