§ The Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement (Mr. Ian Stewart)
Since the purchase of the fishing tackle was made from non-public welfare funds the Ministry of Defence has no involvement with the transaction. I understand, however, that the military staff in the Falklands selected the range of firms they approached from their own knowledge and from specialist publications.
§ Mr. Stewart
The answer to that is in the reply that I have already given. The equipment was bought with welfare funds because that procedure could be followed more quickly in order to get fishing tackle to the troops in the Falklands for recreation purposes.
§ Mr. Ogden
Was any of this fishing equipment made available to the unofficial president's fund of the Queen's Own Highlanders, then commanded by Lieutenant Col. Ridley at Goose Green, East Falklands? If so, at what price was it made available to the fund and at what price was it made available to the non-commissioned ranks? There is a great deal of information to the effect that that fund was grossly overcharging non-commissioned troops stationed there for airmail letters, beer and cigarettes, in some cases more than 250 per cent. above local charges. Will the hon. Gentleman now issue proper guidelines for the composition—[Interruption.]—management, and prices and profit margins of such regimental funds—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. If the hon. Gentleman shouts at me like that again I shall ask him to leave the Chamber.
§ Mr. Stewart
As I have already explained, the funds with which this equipment was bought were provided out of welfare funds and are, therefore, not the responsibility of the Ministry of Defence. The welfare funds were at the discretion of the commander of the British Forces on the Falkland Islands, and if the hon. Gentleman wants more information I suggest he communicates with him.