HC Deb 29 January 1947 vol 432 cc926-7
30. Sir Waldron Smithers

asked the Secretary of State for Air if he is aware that, at the police court at St. Columb, Cornwall, a defendant was recently charged with taking for his own use some goods marked for dumping, instead of destroying them; if it is his policy to destroy valuable machinery in this manner; and how much has been so disposed of.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Mr. Warne was not charged with taking for his own use goods marked for dumping, but with being in possession of Air Ministry property. A quantity of such property was found in his house; he alleged that he had found some of this property on a dump. His solicitor alleged that valuable articles were being dumped and he is reported to have said that Mr. Warne had been ordered to destroy such articles by using a bulldozer to push them into a pond. After a special investigation, I am satisfied that these suggestions are without foundation of any kind.

Sir W. Smithers

In view of the widespread allegations of waste of materials and great shortage, will the Secretary of State do all he can to avoid waste in the disposal of war materials?

Mr. Noel-Baker

Yes, Sir. Of course, we do all we can to avoid waste, but I think the hon. Gentleman would do well to avoid waste and refrain from putting down Questions on the basis of reports in the Press of allegations made by defending solicitors.

Mr. Quintin Hogg

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell the result of these legal proceedings?

Mr. Noel-Baker

I would rather not answer that question until it is on the Paper.

Mr. Hogg

Does not the right hon. Gentleman know whether or not the defendant was acquitted?

Mr. Noel-Baker

The matter is by no means finished, and I would not like to make any further statement which might make the position worse for the defendant.

Sir W. Smithers

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he is a party to the further suppression of free speech?