HC Deb 21 June 1950 vol 476 cc1286-7
43. Major Guy Lloyd

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what commercial work is at present on hand in Navy dockyards; and how much of it has been accepted at under cost.

The Civil Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. Walter J. Edwards)

The capacity available in the home dockyards for commercial work is now very small. Commercial orders employ at present fewer than 100 men out of a total of over 40,000. The small orders are undertaken either at actual cost or on a fixed price quoted on estimated costs.

Major Lloyd

Will the Minister bear in mind the highly critical comments of the Auditor and Comptroller-General about a recent contract which involved the taxpayers in a loss of more than £171,000? Will he see that such contracts, which cause a loss to the taxpayer, are not undertaken. Many private interests could take them on and probably make a profit?

Mr. Edwards

I prefer to leave that matter for the time being because it is sub judice, and has to be reported to the Public Accounts Committee.

Mr. Snow

Is my hon. Friend aware that since the end. of the war His Majesty's dockyards undertook very difficult work indeed, for which outside engineering industry was not prepared to contract?

44. Surgeon Lieut.-Commander Bennett

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what measures he takes to prevent waste of timber in naval dockyards.

Mr. W. J. Edwards

The custody, accountancy and issue of timber is governed by regulations laid down to ensure that all possible precautions are taken against theft, misappropriation and waste. These regulations are enforced by the responsible dockyard officers.

Surgeon Lieut.-Commander Bennett

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in certain naval establishments when a plank is taken out of store to have a piece cut out for use the remainder, instead of being put back into store, is cut up and thrown away, through laziness? Will he keep an eye on that practice?

Mr. Edwards

I am not aware of anything of the sort. Responsibility is laid on the dockyard establishments to see that no waste is taking place, but if the hon. and gallant Member can give me instances I will inquire into them.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Does not the hon. Gentleman recall the terrific waste in high grade timber in the Royal Naval establishment at Almondbank?

Mr. Edwards

No, I do not.