HC Deb 02 April 1957 vol 568 cc223-4
28. Mr. Nabarro

asked the Secretary of State for War what steps he has taken to investigate the evidence given recently to Warwick magistrates by a civilian employee of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, stating that Army stores at Budbrooke Barracks had been wasted on a prodigious scale, that bonfires had been made of clothing, physical training vests used as polishing rags, shoe and clothes brushes, also used plimsolls, used for barrack fires, and other similar allegations; and, having regard to the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General on the Army Appropriation Account, 1955–56, what steps he now proposes to take to secure proper economy and efficiency in the purchase of Army stores, and prevention of future extravagance, inefficiency and waste.

Mr. John Hare

About 80 worn-out brushes, 20 pairs of old plimsolls, one pair of leather gloves, a leather jerkin and a few other unserviceable items of clothing were recently destroyed at this barracks. In addition, 11 worn-out physical training vests were sent to salvage. All these articles were worn-out and were properly disposed of. I am satisfied that reports which appeared in the Press were much exaggerated. We are keeping our purchasing procedures under constant review.

Mr. Nabarro

Will my right hon. Friend confirm, first, that the regimental officers at Warwick are entirely exonerated from all blame in this matter and that the imputations made in many Press reports are totally false? Secondly, will he confirm that the civilian employee of his Department who was prosecuted for theft was found guilty, and that no importance whatever should be attached to the entirely false and irrelevant evidence that this man gave before the magistrates at Warwick?

Mr. Hare

In answer to the two questions put to me by my hon. Friend, I should certainly like to say that the Army officers are exonerated of any imputation which might have appeared from the Press reports. Secondly, it is true that in this case the civilian was found guilty.

Mr. Dodds

But why should old clothing be burnt? Are there no rag and bone merchants in Warwick?

Mr. Hare

Where they are of any use for salvage they are sent for salvage.

Mr. John Hobson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the allegations in this case arose in connection with a military depot in my constituency; that there is not the slightest truth in them, and that they arose only out of the evidence given by a man who was subsequently convicted of the criminal offence with which he was charged?

Mr. Hare

I am very grateful for what my hon. Friend has said.

Mr. Nabarro

An altogether very satisfactory series of replies.