HC Deb 02 April 1957 vol 568 cc222-3
27. Mr. Nabarro

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will make a statement concerning the light Army truck, development and stocks of which have cost £14 million plus £2,400,000 for the initial supply of spares, as referred to in the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General on the Army Appropriation Account, 1955–56; what part of this £16,400,000 total expenditure referred to occurred during the period 1945–51; and what steps he now proposes to take, both in regard to this matter, and the prevention of similar wastage and inefficiency in the future.

Mr. John Hare

Of the total of £16,400,000 only about £20,000 was charged to Army Votes during the period 1945–51, but, as stated by the Comptroller and Auditor General in paragraph 27 of his Report, the production order covering the whole sum was placed in 1950. Large numbers of these vehicles, which were built to a very exact specification, are giving good service in the Army, but partly for reasons of economy and partly due to our changing requirements we are proposing to concentrate on a general service range of vehicles which will need the minimum of modification to make them suitable for Army use.

Mr. Nabarro

Is it not a fact that once again the Comptroller and Auditor General's report is of a censorious character in this regard, in exactly the same way as it was with regard to the alleged surplus stocks of women's clothing in the Army? What does my right hon. Friend propose to do in order to see that the true facts of the situation are put before the British public, and that there is not this persistent suggestion that taxpayers' money is being wasted by his Department?

Mr. Hare

I think that my hon. Friend and I are doing very well in that context. I would point out that 12,000 of these vehicles are in use. They are a first-class job, but they are more expensive than we can afford.

Mr. Nabarro

A very good answer.

Mr. Lipton

Does not the Minister of Information know anything about this? Could not he tell the hon. Member for Kidderminster what the true facts are, namely, that there is a lot of waste which cannot be disguised?

Mr. Hare

I do not see the point of the hon. Member's supplementary question.

Mr. Nabarro

Quite irrelevant.

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