HC Deb 29 May 1946 vol 423 cc1129-31
1. Squadron-Leader Sir Gifford Fox

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, following the discovery of the theft of £6,900 at R.N.A.S., Culham, how long elapsed before Oxfordshire civil police and Royal Naval Special Investigation Branch police were informed and visited the station, respectively.

The Parliamentary and Financial Secretary to the Admiralty (Mr. John Dugdale)

The burglary was discovered soon after 8 a.m. on 6th September, 1945, and the Oxfordshire Police were informed by telephone at 8.15 a.m. A police constable arrived shortly afterwards, followed by a sergeant at 9 a.m., and at 11 a.m. an inspector from Wheatley took charge of the investigations. Royal Marine Police Headquarters, Portsmouth, were informed by telephone at 9.45 a.m., and detectives arrived at R.N. Air Station, Culham, at 2 p.m.

Sir G. Fox

Were the police able to discover whether this was the work of a highly organised outside gang?

Mr. Dugdale

I have no reason for supposing so.

3. Sir G. Fox

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty following the theft of £6,900 at Royal Naval Air Station, Culham, if he has made an investigation into the precautions taken by the Royal Naval Police; and if he has any statement to make in connection therewith.

Mr. Dugdale

Yes, Sir. The investigations showed that the night patrols by the Royal Marine Police were inadequately carried out, and that their supervision and instructions were insufficient. Suitable disciplinary action has been taken.

Sir G. Fox

Does not the hon. Gentleman think it is a disgrace to his Department that three heavy safes, one weighing three cwt., can be spirited away from a Royal Naval Air Station?

Mr. Gallacher

Does not the hon. Gentleman find it very difficult to keep pace with private enterprise?

Mr. Medland

In view of the admission in the answer, are the Admiralty prepared to make good the losses to personnel who had money lodged in the safes?

Mr. Dugdale

If the hon. Gentleman will await my answer to the next Question he will see.

4. Sir. G. Fox

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty why, following the theft of £6,900 at the Royal Naval Air Station, Culham, directions have been given to all royal naval air stations for bricking in safes; and when will a decision be taken to reimburse the naval personnel who suffered losses.

Mr. Dugdale

The directions for safes to be embedded in brick and concrete are part of the additional security measures taken to prevent a recurrence of this type of theft.

As regards the moneys lost, approval has been given for the reimbursement out of public funds of the amounts lost by the three Station funds, and of the clothing gratuity lost by the W.R.N.S. officer. The question of the replacement of the private money lost by the two naval officers is under consideration, but I am sure the hon. and gallant Gentleman will realise that as it raises a matter having wide repercussions, not only in the Navy but elsewhere, I cannot give an immediate reply today.

Sir G. Fox

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that his Department have now been discussing this for eight months with other Departments, and why should these officers, who have lost £200, not be reimbursed?

Mr. Dugdale

I only want to make it quite clear that this is not a rule which affects the Royal Navy alone. It affects other Departments. That is why I am having it examined.

Mr. E. P. Smith

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether these losses are covered by insurance?

Mr. Dugdale

Not without notice