§ 25 and 26. Mr. Lubbock
asked the Minister of Power (1) how many books of petrol coupons he instructed to be printed as a result of the Middle East War; how many have actually been printed and how many remain on order; if he will state the total cost and the cost per book; and why coupons are continuing to be printed in spite of the fact that the crisis is over;
§ (2) what is the normal level of stocks of petrol coupons kept in case of an emergency.
§ Mr. Lubbock
Did the right hon. Gentleman go out to tender for this very large order, or did he place the order with one company at a very inflated price? Is it not a monstrous waste of money to continue printing these books now that the emergency is over?
§ Mr. Marsh
No, Sir. To answer the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question about the process, these sorts of documents can be printed by only a limited 193 number of printers. I understand that there is more than one printing firm involved in carrying out the work. This is a matter of judgment. The hon. Gentleman thinks that it is a waste of time.
§ Mr. Marsh
He is entitled to his view, but if he is serious in his question, I suggest that it would be more profitable for all concerned if he gave me a chance to answer it. One of the things we discovered when the crisis began was that the biggest bottleneck in taking very quick action was the lack of books and coupons. I believe that we should ensure that we have the preparations made, for this would enable us to have a simplified rationing scheme, which would save us about £750,000 in about six months.