HC Deb 17 May 1954 vol 527 cc1690-1
39. Mr. Burden

asked the Minister of State, Board of Trade, as representing the Minister of Materials, when it is expected to complete the disposal of surplus stocks left over from the war and the subsequent period of shortages and valued at about £50 million; what is the present value of the stock; and what was the value of the stock disposed of during the 12 months ended 31st March, 1954.

The Minister of State, Board of Trade (Mr. Heathcoat Amory)

Terminal stocks to the value of about £75 million were disposed of in the year ended 31st March last, and further disposals to the value of about £40 million are expected to take place during this financial year. There are also certain commitments to take up non-ferrous metals and raw cotton under continuing contracts. The work of disposal, on a much diminished scale, will extend into the next financial year but should virtually be completed in that year except for any fresh disposal liabilities that may arise in respect of jute and cotton. The figure quoted by my hon. Friend of the current value of residual trading stocks is the one I gave him on 10th May. I have no more up-to-date figure.

Mr. Burden

Can we take it that with the lowering of the stocks held the numbers of staff engaged in administering these stocks will also be reduced?

Mr. Amory

Yes, Sir, I can assure my hon. Friend that the staffs will be running down.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether his Department made a profit or a loss on the stocks sold during the year ending 31st March?

Mr. Amory

That is a difficult matter for me to deal with offhand.

Mr. Slater

Can the hon. Gentleman inform us whether all these stocks were in the empty cupboards left by the previous Administration?

Mr. Amory

Some of them have come in as a result of continuing contracts during the past 2½ years.