HC Deb 28 April 1958 vol 587 c8
14. Mr. Mason

asked the Minister of Supply if he will make a statement about the disposal of the 620 miles of tarpaulin canvas which cost his Department £165,000; and to what extent he expects to find customers for this unwanted material.

Mr. Aubrey Jones

This canvas was bought in 1950 and 1951 to meet the needs of the re-armament programme. It is now surplus to foreseen requirements and will shortly be offered for sale by tender.

Mr. Mason

Can the Minister say to what extent it is inferior compared with when it was bought? Secondly, in view of the adverse publicity that this matter has received, is it not quite clear that there must have been some re-emergence of the 1956 muddle in the Ministry of Supply—with 1¼ million pairs of boots surplus to requirements, tarpaulin covers rotting, and surplus machine tools now being sold at a loss to the taxpayer?

Hon. Members

Who ordered them?

Dame Irene Ward

Hit him hard.

Mr. Jones

I think an answer is superfluous: neither I nor the Government is responsible for the quantity bought or for the condition in which they are bought. It is my sad task to effect a sale.

Mr. Edelman

Could not some of these tarpaulins be used to cover the machine tools which are now lying in the open?

Mr. Jones

I tried to show by my earlier answer that the number of machine tools lying in the open was few.