HC Deb 17 July 1940 vol 363 cc192-4
14. Mr. Owen Evans

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Aircraft Production whether his Department have revised their estimates of the country's requirements of aluminium in the light of new conditions; whether the recent appeal for the collection of aluminium utensils from private sources indicates a serious shortage of the metal; and what steps have been taken to meet the situation?

Colonel Llewellin

The answer to the first part of the Question is, Yes, Sir; in regard to the second part, I hope that no one in this country or elsewhere will consider that the recent appeal for the collection of aluminium utensils in any way indicates that we are not a position to carry out our full aircraft programme. The appeal provides an opportunity for the public to surrender voluntarily any aluminium articles they can spare, and I should like to pay my tribute to the generous way in which they have responded.

Mr. R. C. Morrison

Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman represent to his right hon. Friend that in future appeals of this kind it might be better if some consultation were to take place with local authorities?

Mr. Lyons

Are steps being taken to requisition aluminium goods which are for sale in the shops, the anomaly being obvious that when people surrender these things someone else can go and buy?

Colonel Llewellin

I know there has been some criticism that this was not worked through the salvage organisation. It was really apart from salvage. This was material which we were asking the women of Great Britain to surrender from their homes, and we thought the procedure best calculated to appeal to them was to deal with the Women's Voluntary Services organisation, to which we are thankful for helping us in our task. With regard to the Question of the hon. and learned Member for East Leicester (Mr. Lyons), my noble Friend is quite prepared to requisition stocks in retail shops and in any wholesale establishments as soon as that is necessary. The House, I think, should realise that there has been practically no aluminium for the manufacture of domestic utensils since the early days of the war; therefore, there is not a great quantity in the shops, but if it becomes necessary to requisition it, my noble Friend will certainly take that step.

Mr. Lawson

Is there any truth in the report that this appeal is due to the fact that those in control of aluminium supplies were holding it up in some way?

Colonel Llewellin

No, Sir, none.

Mr. Levy

Is not the psychological effect bad when you ask householders to give up utensils? When they see every shop in every street stocked, how can you expect them to appreciate that there is a shortage?

Colonel Llewellin

The psychological effect has been extremely good, judging by the amount of aluminium which has come into our keeping in the last few days. I hope that nothing will be said in this House to deter people from responding to the appeal.

10. Mr. R. C. Morrison

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Aircraft Production, whether there was any consultation with the Ministry of Supply prior to the appeal for aluminium salvage, to be organised and collected by the Women's Voluntary Services; whether he is aware that this method overlaps with the duties and responsibility for salvage collection now imposed on local authorities; and whether he will take steps to put an end to the confusion thus created?

Colonel Llewellin

As announced by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply by agreement with him and with the approval of the Production Council, responsibility for the control and maintenance of aluminium is being transferred from the Ministry of Supply to the Ministry of Aircraft Production. The answer to the first part of the Question is, therefore, in the negative. As regards the second part of the Question, the appeal was mainly directed towards obtaining articles that would not, in the normal course of events, have found their way to the salvage authorities for some time. In these circumstances, separate arrangements for the collection of the articles were considered desirable, and we are very much obliged to the Women's Voluntary Service for undertaking the task for us. I am not aware that any confusion has been created but if the hon. Member has any specific instances I will soon see that they are put right.

Mr. Morrison

Has any date now been reached for the determination of this appeal, or is it proposed that the appeal shall be continued?

Colonel Llewellin

No, Sir, there is no date fixed.

Sir Herbert Williams

Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that no intimation was given to local salvage authorities regarding this appeal, and that in many districts arrangements were not made to receive the aluminium when it was tendered?

Colonel Llewellin

It was generally set out that the people who were undertaking this scheme were working in the voluntary services. I know that my hon. Friend is interested in this matter, and I would point out that there is a lady in Croydon, Mrs. Bessie Roberts, who should know all about it. No doubt if they had communicated with her, they would have found out.

Sir H. Williams

Is not the Minister aware that the lady is in charge of all the municipal salvage depots and had no information of the arrangements made by my hon. and gallant Friend's chief?

Colonel Llewellin

Women's Voluntary Services certainly informed us that they had notified the people in all the areas.

Mr. Stokes

Will the person who is controller at the Ministry transfer his activities to the Department of Aircraft Production, for aluminium?

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