HC Deb 02 April 1957 vol 568 cc221-2
26. Mr. Nabarro

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will make a statement concerning current stocks of Women's Royal Army Corps, ex-Auxiliary Territorial Service, outer and underclothing.

Mr. John Hare

War reserves of women's clothing were up to 1955, held on a basis settled in 1950. Those of outer clothing have now been reduced and those of underclothing abolished. When stocks have dropped to normal levels, there will be between six and twelve months' requirements for maintenance purposes in addition to war reserves of outer clothing.

Mr. Nabarro

Has my right hon. Friend seen the recent report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General to the effect that this W.R.A.C. clothing represents twenty-years' peace-time stocks? Is it not a fact that the war-time establishment of the W.R.A.C. would probably be about twenty times the peace-time establishment? In those circumstances do not these stocks represent about one year's supply in the event of a major war? Will my right hon. Friend make it clear that there has been no wastage of the taxpayers' money in this regard?

Mr. Hare

My hon. Friend is quite correct. It is calculated that on the outbreak of war there would be sufficient reserves on the old basis for rather under a year's supply. We are having a look at the whole question of war reserves, however, and it is our intention to run them down.

Mr. Chetwynd

Can the Minister say whether this decision to deprive the women's services of their underclothes is part of his recruiting campaign?

Mr. Hare

We have given these ladies the right to buy the underclothes that they themselves want.

Dame Irene Ward

I am very grateful to my right hon. Friend for his having altered the method of allocation of underclothing to the W.R.A.C. last year, but what does he now propose to do with the stocks?

Mr. Hare

I have just explained to the hon. Member that we intend to get rid of everything that we do not need.

Dame Irene Ward