HC Deb 02 May 1962 vol 658 cc1014-5
24. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty why he has made it his custom to refuse to disclose the prices he pays for buildings and sites such as the price paid to Leeds Trail-ways Limited for the pier at Holy Loch.

Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing

The Admiralty follows the practice of successive Governments in this matter. I gave the hon. Member the reasons in a letter to him on 3rd April, 1962.

Mr. Hughes

Is the Minister aware that the reason he gave, that the price paid would considerably embarrass the owner, is no satisfactory answer at all? Why is he so reluctant to give the price of this pier? Surely, if the Scottish Office had bought it, we should have known the cost. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is an opinion in Dunoon that the selling of this pier by the Admiralty has been a bit of a racket? Why does he not dispose of this rumour? Why should he not disclose the price of this old pier?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

It would be contrary to established practice to disclose contract prices. That is a phrase which was used by the Labour Minister of Supply in 1950 when replying to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin), and the arrangement has not been changed. It is perfectly standardised and has been approved by successive Governments. We are anxious to get the best value for the taxpayer, and, having had a look at the matter in detail, I think that the arrangement is the most satisfactory in that respect.

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