§ 31. Mr. W. Fletcher
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what has been the average delay between receipt of indents and despatch of goods in the case of warlike and other stores asked for by Malaya for the six months ended 31st October, 1950; and what was the maximum delay in any single case.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
The time taken before shipment of general stores for the Federation Government cannot readily be averaged, because of the large number of separate indents (nearly 1,000), the varied nature and importance of these stores, and the fact that delivery in some cases extends over a period. In the case of warlike stores, the average period between receipt of indent by the Crown Agents for the Colonies and shipment of the complete consignment was about four months, the maximum period will not exceed six months. It will be appreciated that the Federation Government, in placing its orders, gives as long notice as is practicable. The period which elapses between the receipt of the indent and the delivery of the goods is not, therefore, necessarily an indication of delay in supply.
§ Mr. Fletcher
In view of the very urgent need for a good many of these stores to be supplied at once, is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that the Office of the Crown Agents is imbued with a sufficient sense of urgency, because from reports from Malaya there seem to be frequent and considerable hold ups of very important warlike stores?
§ Mr. Griffiths
I have indicated to everyone concerned that these orders must be given very urgent attention. It is absolutely essential that they should be supplied as quickly as possible.
Mr. Charles Ian Orr-Ewing
Has the right hon. Gentleman considered engaging some of the charter air companies to take these urgent warlike stores to the theatres of war where they are urgently needed?
§ Mr. Griffiths
I should not like it to be thought that there is any long delay. There have been some cases of delay, but on the whole the position has been fairly satisfactory.