HC Deb 10 April 1946 vol 421 cc1899-900
4. Mr. Garry Allighan

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that polished tables, wardrobes, chests of drawers, and easy chairs from the officers' wardroom of H.M.S. "Argus" have been chopped up for firewood and used to feed the furnaces at Chatham Dockyard; that other useful articles, including oil heaters, new electric fans and new utility chairs have been smashed up on the Anchor Wharf; that large stocks of other materials are being allowed to deteriorate through being dumped without cover; and whether lie will have inquiries made into this.

Mr. Dugdale

My hon. Friend is misinformed. H.M.S. "Argus" was con- verted into an accommodation hulk, involving certain structural alterations. No furniture was, however, removed from the wardroom, and no stores of any description were smashed up on the Anchor Wharf. In accordance with normal dockyard procedure, serviceable or repairable stores and furniture from other parts of the ship were taken into stock: stores condemned after survey as unfit for further use, and having no market value were broken up elsewhere in the dockyard. The necessity of releasing requisitioned accommodation and accumulation of stores has made unavoidable some stowage in the open, but all possible steps are taken in such cases, by means of tarpaulins and other improvised shelter, to prevent deterioration.

Mr. Allighan

Would my hon. Friend be prepared to look into this matter again in view of the fact that I have in my possession a statement from thirty workmen who were engaged in doing this very operation which he denies, and who have submitted to me specimens of the goods which were so wantonly destroyed?

Mr. Dugdale

I will look into the matter, but it is quite possible that there may have been wood which was not suitable for use for any other purpose which may have been burnt.

Mrs. Leah Manning

Will my hon. Friend say what decisions were taken as to whether the furniture material was serviceable or not? It may be that something considered of no value to the Navy would be regarded as a great treasure by housewives or newly married women who want to start a home.

Mr. Dugdale

Anything that can be sold will be sold. Some of this wood may be verminous and in an impossible condition for use.