§ 6. Mr. Steele
asked the Secretary of State for War what arrangements have now been made by the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes in Port Said.
§ 11. Mr. George Wigg
asked the Secretary of State for War the date on which the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes' supplies were first on sale after the landing in the Port Said area and the additional percentages added to items over and above the cost price; and whether he will make a statement giving details of items normally on sale in the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes which were either not on sale or in short supply.
§ Mr. John Hare
Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes opened a bulk store on 15th November from which units were able to buy confectionery, tobacco and cigarettes, beer, wines, spirits, soft drinks, and toilet items. On 20th November six mobile canteen vans were landed.
I have been in touch with the London headquarters of Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes and I am satisfied that the price policy laid down by them is reasonable. On the other hand, in view of the allegations made in the Press, N.A.A.F.I. have undertaken to give me a full report.
§ Mr. Steele
Is the Secretary of State aware that I have a letter from the mother of one of these boys in Egypt complaining bitterly that he is sending home for stamps, as the N.A.A.F.I. has no stamps at all; furthermore, that extortionate charges are being made for notepaper and envelopes, and that for a 6d. bar of chocolate 1s. is being charged?
§ Mr. Hare
I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has brought those complaints to my attention. I had not heard of them before, and I will certainly take them up. As for the cost of the bar of chocolate, I made inquiries this morning. N.A.A.F.I. should not charge more than 8d., which covers the cost of conveyance to the Middle East. I am investigating these allegations.
§ Mr. Wigg
Would the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to answer the part of my Question which he did not answer, namely, what is the additional percentage above the cost price charged to troops in N.A.A.F.I. Institutes in Port Said? Would he not agree that it is an 1023 absolute scandal that the troops were left for eleven days without N.A.A.F.I. facilities? Does not this point to the fact that there was chaos in the Q planning of this operation?
§ Mr. Hare
No. I would say, to deal with the last part of the hon. Gentleman's question, that that is not fair. These troops were engaged in active operations. It is not possible to take all one's N.A.A.F.I. stores into battle. Considering the difficulties, I think that N.A.A.F.I. got going pretty quickly As for the first part of the hon. Gentleman's Question, the prices laid down by N.A.A.F.I. headquarters are in accordance with the price policy agreed by them with the Service Departments. As the House knows, any profits made are returned to the Army in the form of discount in N.A.A.F.I. shops, rebate on canteen sales and so on.
§ Mr. Steele
Will the right hon. Gentleman make a statement to the House when he gets this report from N.A.A.F.I. headquarters?