HC Deb 15 July 1946 vol 425 cc839-40
2. Mr. Osborne

asked the Minister of Supply whether he is aware that at the recent sale of surplus Government vehicles at Ruddington, Nottinghamshire, 25 amphibious ducks were taken out of the public auction and sold privately for about 5 per cent, of their original cost; and on whose authority and on what grounds was this action taken.

The Minister of Supply (Mr. John Wilmot)

It was decided to sell a number of amphibious vehicles at Ruddington by competitive tender before the auction was arranged and they were never, in fact, included among the vehicles to be sold by auction. I have given instructions for some amphibians to be included in future auctions.

Mr. Osborne

Is it not a fact that these ducks, which cost £4,000 each, were sold for £150 by private treaty? It is believed in the locality that it is a grave scandal. These ducks are at the present time earning, on the South coast, something like £50 a day profit, and it is a scandal which ought to be investigated.

Mr. Wilmot

I have said that they will in future be put in the public auction. These vehicles were sent to Ruddington for breaking down before the auction was decided on. An offer was received for them and they were taken away from the breaking down place. In future they will be offered for auction.

Sir Patrick Hannon

If the allegations contained in my hon. Friend's Question are borne out by the facts, surely it is a matter for further investigation. Are the taxpayers of this country to be treated in this scandalous way?

Mr. Wilmot

I have just said that in future these vehicles will be offered for public sale before they are broken down.

Sir William Darling

Is it the best business method of which this Government can think, to sell vehicles which cost £4,000 far £150? If not, would they not set up a working party of business men to advise them in this matter?