HC Deb 06 December 1934 vol 295 cc1826-8
65. Mr. COCKS

asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether he is aware that the firm of Matheson and Company, Limited, on behalf of the Jardine Engineering Corporation, Limited, the agents for Vickers, Armstrongs, Limited, in China, consulted the headquarters of the Royal Artillery (Northern Command), York, as to an officer who could be an arms salesman; that the commander in charge of the headquarters consulted the War Office; whether the War Office made any suggestion as to a suitable officer; whether this suggestion was adopted; and whether it is the policy of the War Office to assist the arms firms in the appointment of their salesmen?


I have no knowledge of any official correspondence on the subject; but in any case, if the War Office were asked to recommend a suitable retired officer for a civilian post, I should see no objection to this being done.


Is not the right hon. Member aware that the War Office say, in their letter of 30th June, 1931, that they have no objection to serving officers being recommended for this purpose?


That is exactly what I cannot trace. We have no official information with regard to that.


What has happened to the files of the War Office? Have they been destroyed so that the relationship between the armament firms and the War Office cannot be disclosed?


asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office what is the relation between His Majesty's Government and the Soley Armament Company and when were such relations established; what is the total amount and the value of the stocks sold by this firm for His Majesty's Government; and whether there are any other companies which have similar relations with His Majesty's Government?


As the reply is of considerable length, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.


Will the proposed arms inquiry investigate the Soley Armament Corporation and its relations with the War Office and its American agents?


I have given in a long and detailed answer all the information for which the hon. Member asks. Perhaps he will read the answer and, if necessary, ask another question.

Following is the answer:

There are two agreements in existence directly between the War Department and the Soley Armament Company, and one between the War Department and Birmingham Small Arms Guns Limited, under which the Soley Armament Company has been appointed to act as representatives of Birmingham Small Arms Guns Limited.

The agreements are as follow:

An agreement made in 1931, and renewed in 1933, covering the period ending the 31st instant, giving the Soley Armament Company the sole rights of purchase and resale of surplus stocks of Hotchkiss guns. Apart from a few guns issued as samples for which £327 was received, no sales have been made under this agreement.

An agreement made in 1931, which superseded an earlier agreement dated 22nd October, 1924, giving the company the sole rights of sale of certain surplus stocks of steel helmets. The total amount so far received by the War Department under these two agreements is approximately £9,000.

An agreement with Birmingham Small Arms Guns Limited, dated 28th August, 1930, under which that company have the sole rights of purchase and resale of the surplus pattern 1914 rifles and Lewis guns. Birmingham Small Arms Guns Limited have appointed the Soley Armament Company to act as their representative. Under this agreement the amount received by the War Department in respect of the sale of rifles is approximately £7,000, and of Lewis guns approximately £18,000.

In each of these agreements, certain terms and conditions are embodied which, in effect, provide that no sale can be made except to approved destinations.

Apart from these agreements the company purchase stores of various kinds from time to time, like other contractors on the list of those eligible to tender for surplus stores.

No other firms hold agreements of the above nature with the War Office.

I am, of course, answering for my own Department only.