HC Deb 21 January 1924 vol 169 cc519-21
45. Sir J. REMNANT

asked the Prime Minister what steps he proposes to take to carry out the promise made by the then Financial Secretary to the Treasury in the House on 31st July, 1923, to make inquiries into certain stated transactions of the Disposal Board?

The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Lieut.-Colonel Guinness)

I have examined the papers in connection with those cases where the hon. and gallant Member has criticised the action of the Disposal and Liquidation Commission and can see no ground for the public inquiry for which he has asked.


If a Member of this House has reasonable grounds for suspecting any contract, how is he to secure an inquiry when the Minister always says that he has looked into the matter and is satisfied there is nothing to inquire into?

Lieut.-Colonel GUINNESS

This matter has been very carefuly examined by my predecessors. The undertaking which was given I construe to mean that if any bad action can be attributed to public servants responsible for the work of the Disposal and Liquidation Commission, an inquiry will be held. I have not found any ground for attributing such action in this case, and I do not think it is suitable to hold a public inquiry to enable one set of contractors to bring aspersions against another set.


In that case, does the hon. Gentleman consider I am one of the contracting parties? I have nothing to do with them. I myself have asked for an opportunity of bringing my case before the Minister responsible, and on each occasion he has turned me down and said he has looked into the matter and is satisfied there is nothing to complain of.

Lieut.-Colonel GUINNESS

The hon. and gallant Gentleman should not understand that I am in any way identifying him with any contractors. I have dealt with one case against the Disposal and Liquidation Commission, and I do not think he has made it good.


The House will forgive me for continuing this. A promise was made to me that the Minister would look into the case, and also that I should be given an opportunity of meeting him. Was the hon. Gentleman in the House at the time?

Lieut.-Colonel GUINNESS

I have got the promise here and, as I said, I interpret it to mean if in any way bad conduct has taken place on the part of a public servant; it does not apply to individual contractors. This House really cannot take over from the Disposal and Liquidation Commission all the details of these contracts. It is only concerned to see that the Commission used judgment, and acted in the best public interest.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that a number of persons employed by the Disposal Board have transferred their services to the contractors against whom charges have been brought and, as a matter of fact, proved and admitted, in reply to questions from both sides, to Minister of the Crown.


Is it not a fact that every time the hon. Baronet has raised this question on the Floor of the House, the House has confirmed the action of this Disposal Board in every possible way, and turned the hon. Baronet down?

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