§ 33. Mr. Shinwell
asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will request the representatives of the War Office on the board of management of the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes to make inquiries into the conditions of the staffs at canteens, the wages paid, the hours worked and the sleeping quarters; whether he will also ask for a statement of reserves at the disposal of this organisation, the amount of surplus refunded to units and the reason why service men cannot be supplied with tobacco and cigarettes at Navy, Army and Air Force Institute canteens on a rationed basis and at cost price; and whether, in view of the importance of this organisation to the forces, he will take steps to exercise a larger measure of control?
§ Mr. Eden
I am not aware of any reason for calling for the inquiry suggested in the first part of the Question, but, if my hon. Friend has any specific case in mind to which he thinks attention should be drawn, perhaps he will let me have particulars. The reserves and the surplus refunded to units are shown in the annual 596 accounts, copies of which are placed in the Library. I will send my hon. Friend a copy of the latest report. As regards tobacco and cigarettes, I am informed that, after allowance is made for duty, expenses and rebate, there is no margin for any appreciable reduction. Further, there are obvious objections to selecting one particular commodity for special treatment. As regards the last part of the Question, I am satisfied that the control exercisable by the Service Ministries by means of the machinery indicated in the Articles of Association of the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes is adequate to secure the conduct of the organisation in accordance with the best interests of the Services.
§ Mr. Shinwell
Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that this important organisation, which is ancillary to Services in an important degree, is not in any way controlled by this House and that its accounts are not subject to examination? Will not the right hon. Gentleman give the matter his personal consideration? is he aware that I have several letters dealing with the first part of the Question which I shall be happy to send him?
§ Mr. Shinwell
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, although the accounts are available to hon. Members in the Library, they are not presented to the Public Accounts Committee and, therefore, there is no meticulous examination?
§ Sir P. Harris
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Select Committee on Expenditure are inquiring into the organisation and finance of the Institutes, and will he help them in their inquiries?
§ Mr. W. H. Green
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this organisation is reported as having made a profit of £100,000 last year, and does not that mean that prices are unduly high for serving soldiers?