HC Deb 21 March 1945 vol 409 cc809-11
56. Colonel Lyons

asked the Minister of Supply the approximate number of motor vehicles which have been returned to the industry for disposal to date; and what conditions were imposed as to price regulation.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Supply (Mr. Peat)

The approximate number of motor vehicles which have been returned to the industry for disposal to date is 18,000. The great majority of these were civilian type vehicles and were returned to industry under the conditions contained in the agreement between the Ministry of Supply and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, a copy of which was sent to my hon. and gallant Friend on 9th October, 1941. Recently, however, Service type vehicles have become available for disposal and all vehicles are now being sold under a new agreement which has not yet been finalised, but which imposes somewhat different but basically similar conditions of price regulation to those contained in the old agreement.

Colonel Lyons

Is it not a fact that the prices charged to the public by the dealers who get these vehicles from military supply bear no relation at all to the price paid by the trade to the Ministry, and that the Ministry is, therefore, assisting in putting on to the public the biggest racket known in relation to second-hand motor vehicles?

Mr. Peat

My hon. and gallant Friend is entirely wrong in what he says. The final price to the consumer is very carefully joined up to the price which the Ministry gets in the first place.

Colonel Lyons

If that be so, will the hon. Gentleman say what is the condition, and what is the relation of the price to the consumer, which the Ministry imposes on the industry? Let me have the figures.

Mr. Peat

I am certainly prepared to give the hon. and gallant Member the figures, if he will have a word with me afterwards.

Colonel Lyons

I would rather have them publicly in this House.

Mr. Pritt

Could the hon. Gentleman tell us what he means by "finalisation" of the agreement? Could he say whether there is such an English word?

Mr. Peat

What I intended to suggest was that the agreement has not been signed.

Colonel Lyons

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. May I ask whether the figures and the relationship of the figures to which the Minister has referred, could be supplied publicly to the House, and not privately?

Mr. Speaker

That is not a point of Order for me.

Colonel Sir Arthur Evans

When the hon. Gentleman discloses the information for which the hon. and gallant Gentleman has asked, will he do so in HANSARD, and at the same time inform the House through which firms these motor cars will be available to the public?

Mr. Peat

No, Sir. I cannot give that undertaking.

Mr. De la Bére

Are we not entitled to know?

Colonel Lyons

Because of the unsatisfactory nature of the whole transaction which has been disclosed, and the complete lack of grip of the Ministry on the situation, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment, and ask for figures to be disclosed to the House.

Mr. Gallacher

It is an alarming statement. A Tory Member is going to expose Tory business methods.