HC Deb 02 February 1960 vol 616 cc786-7
33. Mr. Sydney Irving

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what workshop equipment is provided for the use of engineers employed by the Customs and Excise Department on the maintenance of their launches at Gravesend; what was the cost to the Customs and Excise Department of repairs, overhauls and other work carried out by contractors on these launches for the year ended 31st March, 1959; and whether, in the interests of economy, more effective use will be made of the Customs and Excise Department's own engineers.

Mr. Amory

The answers to the hon. Member's Questions are—the hand and small power tools needed to carry out maintenance work; £10,825; the present method of employing these engineers is already considered to be the most economical.

Mr. Irving

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that view is not shared by many of the people who know this unit? Is it not totally uneconomic to have men who are qualified and capable of doing the job if they had the tools and at the same time involve the Exchequer in large sums by way of contracts?

Mr. Amory

If the facts were as stated by the hon. Member, I would agree with him, but the fact is that this unit consists of a staff of five whose functions are emergency repairs, top overhaul of engines and day-to-day maintenance, and it has been found more economic to put larger repairs out than to maintain a fully-equipped maintenance yard. If the hon. Member still feels that the facts in his knowledge conflict with what I have said, I should be glad if he would write to me on the subject.