HC Deb 17 September 1940 vol 365 cc119-21
13. Mr. Lunn

the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware of the complaints by many service men at the prices charged for articles of necessity purchased in the Navy, Army and Air Force Institute canteens; how these prices compare with prices for the same articles in Young Men's Christian Association and other canteens and in ordinary shops; what are the profits made by the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes in the last six months; and to what purpose are they devoted?

Mr. Eden

The guiding principle laid down is that the prices charged in Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes should correspond to the average retail prices prevailing in local shops and stores for the same quality of article, and my information is that this principle is being closely followed. The same principle is applicable to the prices charged in the institutes of the Young Men's Christian Association and other philanthropic bodies trading on War Department land. With regard to the last two parts of the Question, I am informed that the accounts for the past six months are not yet complete, but considerable losses were, I understand, incurred during operations in France. As has been previously stated, the profits of this corporation are returned to the Services in the form of cash rebates and other amenities such as entertainments, furnishing of institutes and sports grants.

Mr. Lunn

Has the right hon. Gentleman had no complaints from men about some of these canteens; and are there different arrangements in regard to charges in different areas?

Mr. Eden

I have had some complaints. Perhaps my hon. Friend would speak to me afterwards about the matter.

Mr. Davidson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that other institutions which cater for the Services are compelled to buy furniture and other articles from the N.A.A.F.I. at N.A.A.F.I. prices and that it is their considered opinion that they could buy these things cheaper in the shops if they were allowed to do so; and will the Minister investigate that aspect of the question?

Mr. Eden

Perhaps my hon. Friend will give me particulars.

Major Cazalet

What is the final court of appeal on these questions? Is it the Army Council or the N.A.A.F.I. directors?

Mr. Eden

The N.A.A.F.I. has an organisation of its own, representative of the three Service Departments.

Mr. Lyons

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider making public the accounts of the directors of the N.A.A.F.I.?

Mr. Crowder

Could we have an answer to that question?

Mr. Eden

It is not a matter for me alone.

Mr. Davidson

Is it not a matter for the Government if profits are being made out of the men in the Services?