HC Deb 25 April 1951 vol 487 cc377-8
48. Mr. John Arbuthnot

asked the Minister of Defence why leather half soles and top pieces in excellent condition are being disposed of as surplus by the Service Departments at a time when these items are being demanded by the Services from the manufacturers; and whether his attention has been drawn to a sale of leather half soles at No. 25 Maintenance Unit, Royal Air Force, which has been notified to the trade.

Mr. Shinwell

No serviceable stocks of these items have been offered for sale by the Service Departments in recent years. Of the items to be auctioned at No. 25 Maintenance Unit the leather heels and top pieces are unserviceable and of no use for boot repairing and the soles, which are not leather but composition, are of obsolete pattern; they have already been offered to and refused by the other Government Departments concerned.

Major Beamish

Is the Minister aware that, apart from top pieces and half soles of leather, very large quantities of brand new khaki drill, made in 1950 and in perfect condition, are being sold in the shops as surplus? Is not this a gross waste of the taxpayers' money?

Mr. Shinwell

All I can say is that I have received assurances that any stocks disposed of as surplus are regarded by the Service Departments as of no use to them.

Brigadier Prior-Palmer

Does the right hon. Gentleman not realise that we have made very frequent representations to his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War about this? Is he aware that we are getting very disturbing reports about sales of new equipment? Will he look into this matter?

Mr. Shinwell

In view of what the hon. and gallant Gentleman has said, I will certainly look into it.

Mr. Arbuthnot

If the pieces of leather are unserviceable is it not a sheer waste of money to offer them for sale and to incur the expense of advertising them to the trade?

Mr. Shinwell

They may be unserviceable for the Service Departments, but some civilians may find them very serviceable.