§ 10. Mr. T. WILLIAMS
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty for how many years the average canteen tenancy in Malta had been held before their transfer in June, 1918; and whether contracts were carried out satisfactorily prior to the War?
The FIRST LORD of the ADMIRALTY (Sir Bolton Eyres Monsell)
We are all very glad to see the hon. Member in his place again.
The duration of the tenancy agreements varied considerably from a few months to several years. It is therefore not practicable to compute their average period. So far as is known, the agreements in force before the War were carried out satisfactorily under the conditions then obtaining.
§ 11. Mr. WILLIAMS
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he is aware that the transfer of the Mediterranean canteen 161 tenancies to the Army and Navy Canteen Board in 1918 was a temporary war-time measure, and that the secretary to the commander-in-chief stated, on 8th March, 1916, this course had been decided upon on account of the scarcity of certain foodstuffs, the restriction imposed upon exports from Malta, and the increasing difficulties encountered by private firms in meeting requirements; and, in view of this, will he state what opportunities have been offered to previous tenants to tender for contracts since the War?
Sir B. EYRES MONSELL
The canteens in the Mediterranean were taken over by the Navy and Army Canteen Board in 1918 owing to the inability of the Maltese canteen tenants to meet requirements satisfactorily under the conditions then obtaining. The statement attributed to the secretary to the commander-in-chief doubtless had reference to these conditions. In 1920, when the policy was reviewed by the three Service Departments, it was unanimously agreed that the tenant system should not be revived, and that all the canteens then managed by the Navy and Army Canteen Board should be taken over permanently by that organisation, which was reconstituted as the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes. As the tenant system has thus been abolished, no opportunity can arise for previous tenants to tender for agreements. Considerable purchases of provisions are made, however, by the Victualling Yard, by His Majesty's ships direct, and by the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes, from Maltese traders.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
Do we understand from the First Lord that no opportunity is ever likely to be given to the previous holders of these tenancies to obtain the old business again?
§ Mr. HERBERT WILLIAMS
Will the right hon. Gentleman take note of this expression of preference for private enterprise as against nationalisation?