HC Deb 13 December 1949 vol 470 cc2500-1
38. Sir John Mellor

asked the Secretary of State for War how many members of his staff were concerned in the recent irregular performance of photo-printing work for a private firm; whether they received or were promised payment; whether any of them were associated with, or related to, a person engaged in the management of the said firm; and if he will make a full statement upon their conduct.

Mr. Shinwell

Four members of my staff had some personal responsibility in this incident. There is no evidence that any payment was promised to any individual, or that any payment was made to anyone, apart from a sum of £2 purported to be for time worked by some subordinate employees outside normal office hours. One of the four persons introduced his brother, the managing director of the firm concerned, to the technical officer of the sub-section, with a view to his receiving some unofficial advice about photo-printing methods and equipment, but without any intention that actual printing work should be carried out. I have already made it clear that in my opinion the carrying out of the work in question was very irregular. The individuals concerned were not blameworthy to an equal degree and I am satisfied that suitable disciplinary action has been taken in each case. The value of the work done has now been paid for by the firm.

Sir J. Mellor

Does the right hon. Gentleman really suggest that there was any degree of innocence in this matter, having regard to the fact that the value of the work, as he admitted last week, was £140? Surely this is a case where someone should have been sacked, if not prosecuted?

Mr. Shinwell

There were no degrees of innocence, but there were degrees of blame and I have acted accordingly. The payment of £115 has been made by the firm to the War Office.