HC Deb 15 July 1946 vol 425 cc840-1
5. Mr. Robens

asked the Minister of Supply whether he is aware that donors of binoculars in 1940 are being refused replacement or the opportunity of purchase from Government surplus stocks; and if he will take steps to remedy this injustice.

Mr. Wilmot

I much regret that administrative difficulties make it impossible to recognise a special claim against surplus Government stores by the many citizens who, in response to appeals during the war, generously made gifts of binoculars and other articles of various kinds.

Mr. Robens

Does not the Minister agree that it is unfair that these public spirited people who freely gave binoculars when the country needed them, should be treated in the same way as citizens who sold them? Will my right hon. Friend reconsider the matter and either give them a pair of binoculars from the Government surplus stock, or sell them a pair for a nominal amount before the binoculars are passed over to private trade to sell through the ordinary channels?

Mr. Wilmot

I very much wish it was possible to do as my hon. Friend suggests, but I have been into the matter very thoroughly, and it would not be possible to treat donors of binoculars differently from the donors of other property which was given to the Government during the war. For some part of the time no records were kept. These were free gifts, and I fear that it would be quite impossible to do what is asked.