HC Deb 20 March 1956 vol 550 cc973-4
4. Mr. Dodds

asked the Minister of Works the date on which his Department placed an order for 1,500 gallons of War Department surplus paint; and, prior to this order, how much surplus paint has been purchased from any other Government Department since 1st January, 1954.

Mr. Buchan - Hepburn

The paint referred to was accepted by my Department on 7th March, 1956. No purchases were made from other Government Departments in the period stated.

Mr. Dodds

Will the right hon. Gentleman explain why previously his Department has never bought anything from Government surplus stock but has preferred to buy similar goods direct from the manufacturers? On 1st March the Prime Minister stated that he would hold an investigation, and a few days later, for the first time, the right hon. Gentleman's Department bought surplus paint. Is not this an example of how the taxpayers' money can be saved with the right sort of approach to this matter?

Mr. Buchan-Hepburn

My Department's annual purchase of paint of all kinds is about 27,000 gallons, which represents only 5 per cent. of the painting work undertaken for the Department. The Ministry of Supply sales of paint included only a very small proportion of building paint. I instructed my Department to look at this paint and to buy it as an experiment, but, bearing in mind the costs of transport and storage, and the fact that the colour is not strictly suitable—it is a colour we are trying to get away from in Government painting—I am not sure that the purchase will be economic. Nevertheless, I thought I would try.

Mr. Dodds

More whitewash.