HC Deb 08 June 1937 vol 324 cc1561-2
10. Mr. Harold Nicolson

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the hire of tents and other camp stores kindly lent by his Department for the use of the Basque refugee children's camp will cost the National Joint Committee for Spanish Relief approximately 1,500; and whether, as an act of grace, he will be prepared to reconsider his decision conveyed on 3rd June last and to release the committee from the terms of this loan?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

The value of the equipment involved is just under £6,800, and the charge for the first 30 days or less will be 5 per cent. of this, or about £340. For each succeeding period of 30 days or less the charge will be 2½ per cent. The National Joint Committee for Spanish Relief expressed appreciation of these terms.

Mr. Nicolson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the War Office are making a profit on this?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

No, Sir. I am not aware that we are making a profit, and I should say that we are being extremely generous. If a case is made out, I should always be ready to look into the question again.

Captain Macnamara

Is it not a fact that the National Joint Committee accepted these terms and are satisfied with them? Is my right hon. Friend aware that a great number of workers are giving their labour voluntarily at this camp and elsewhere, and that they feel it is rather hard that a Government Department should be making what might be a considerable profit?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

No, Sir, the Government immediately came to the assistance of the committee with the stores for which they asked, and offered to let them have the stores at a very cheap rate. If there is any general desire made evident that I should look into the question again, I should be glad to do so.

Major Colfox

Is there any reason why the taxpayer should be asked to subsidise this?

Mr. Noel-Baker

In view of the very widespread interest taken by people of all parties in this question, and in view of the large contributions made by other Governments for the support of refugees from Spain, will the right hon. Gentleman fulfil his promise to look into the matter again and see whether he cannot make a small contribution?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

I have already answered that question. I have been influenced in my judgment by the fact that the National Joint Committee itself expressed its appreciation of the terms.

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