HC Deb 11 December 1950 vol 482 cc804-5
37. Mr. Thurtle

asked the Minister of Supply if his attention has been called to the case in which eight defendants were recently convicted under the Auction (Giddings Agreement) Act, 1927, of offences at sales of Government surplus material; if he is aware that this method of defrauding the Treasury has been going on for many years in connection with the sales of scrap metal; if he has considered the comment of the learned Recorder that his Department should take more care to protect the taxpayers in future with regard to sales of this sort: and what steps he proposes to take.

Mr. G. R. Strauss

Yes, Sir. I am aware of this case. Until the latter part of last year practically all scrap metal was sold by competitive tender and not by auction. When it became known that a ring was operating at the auctions suitable precautions were taken and they have proved satisfactory at subsequent auctions.

Mr. Thurtle

Would my right hon. Friend consider making general again the practice of tendering? Is he aware that this method of auction lends itself to fraudulent practices?

Mr. Strauss

We sold practically all our scrap metal supplies by tender until the situation arose when we had only very small quantities to offer, and it was thought more convenient and economical to offer them by auction. I assure my hon. Friend that the steps we have taken to prevent a repetition of these happenings are, as far as we are aware, satisfactory.