HC Deb 14 June 1945 vol 411 cc1756-7

The following Question stood on the Order Paper in the name of Mr. Thorne:

18. To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he can give any information about 70 cases containing 2,000,000 cigarettes and jewellery worth £15,000 stolen from a house in Finchley; and if anyone has yet been arrested for the crime.

Mr. Thorne

In putting this Question, may I be allowed to thank you, Mr. Speaker, and previous Speakers for the many courtesies I have received during the 38 years I have been a Member of the House? I would like also to thank the Clerks at the Table for similar courtesies.

Sir D. Somervell

I think the right hon. Member must have in mind two quite separate incidents. On the afternoon of 3rd June, a house in Finchley was entered and jewellery was stolen of an estimated value of £14,000. Some furs and a safe containing documents and £3,000 in cash were also stolen. On the night of 5th–6th June, four men attacked the watchman at a warehouse in Watford and tied him up. They then removed over 2,500,000 cigarettes, to the value of £11,000, in a lorry. Inquiries are being vigorously pursued by the police in both cases, but no arrests have yet been made.

Mr. Montague

Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman say what 2,000,000 cigarettes were doing in a house at Finchley?

Sir D. Somervell

They were in a warehouse in Watford.

Mr. Thorne

When the right hon. and learned Gentleman gets definite information, will he be good enough to send it to me?

Lieut.-Colonel Sir Arthur Heneage

Are not many of the thefts that are happening all over the place due to the fact that the police are understaffed and many of them too old?

Sir D. Somervell

The demands that have been made on the police and those who have joined the police forces have been very great indeed, and the police have had great difficulties to meet. I fully agree with my hon. and gallant Friend that the question of recruiting-younger men to the police forces is very important, and it is a matter which we have under very active consideration.

Mr. R. J. Taylor

Are not investments in jewellery a means of escaping payment of Income Tax?

Mr. Pritt

Is it not a fact that this is no more than a crude development of uncontrolled private enterprise?