§ 22. Mr. Shurmer
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air if he is aware that at an R.A.F. station, near Stansted in Essex, there are furniture, carpets, linoleum, curtains, etc., some in good condition, some rotting through damp and damage; and if he will make inquiries and see if these things can be disposed of as early as possible to meet civilian needs.
§ 21. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air how much furniture suitable for civilian use is stored at the R.A.F. station, Stansted; when it is intended to dispose of this furniture; and what steps are being taken to keep it in proper condition.
§ 27. General Sir George Jeffreys
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air what is the amount of furniture, household requisites and equipment stored at Stansted Maintenance Unit of the R.A.F.; what arrangements have been made to make this furniture and equipment available to the public at the earliest opportunity; and for what reason the Press are not allowed to have access to this establishment.
Mr. Ivor Thomas
A full investigation made into the matters raised by the hon. Members has elicited no evidence to support charges of neglect. The station referred to holds a large quantity of furniture and barrack equipment which has been withdrawn from stations closing down. A small part, which is unlikely to be worth the cost of repair, is stored outside the hangars. The bulk, in fact all the serviceable equipment, is stored inside hangars, and is stacked to prevent its deterioration or damage. Much of it will be required for furnishing married quarters at R.A.F. stations and for other Service purposes. The surplus suitable for civilian use will be handed over to the Ministries of Works and Supply for disposal as soon as detailed inspection has been carried out. Press representatives wishing to visit R.A.F. stations may do so if permission is obtained from the Air Ministry. No such application has been received for a visit to Stansted Mountfitchett.
§ Mr. Shurmer
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that Press representatives were ordered off the airfield? Is it not time that this stuff was disposed of to people badly in need of furniture instead of letting it sit there on that aerodrome?
The Press representatives concerned had obtained unauthorised access and naturally they were asked to leave. As I have indicated, the Ministry are very willing to consider applications from the Press to visit such stations. There is a large stock of equipment here and it is being disposed of very quickly.
§ Sir G. Jeffreys
Is it not a fact that the Press representatives revealed the state of affairs, which was a very unfortunate one, that a great quantity of furniture and equipment was lying about unattended? Has that now been attended to and is there any reason why the disposal of this furniture to the public, or at any rate the greater part of it, should not be expedited?
I think the Press representatives were misled by the circumstances on the occasion of that visit. It happened to be a fine day and a good deal of the clothing and so on was outside the hangars for drying purposes.