§ LORD TEMPLEMORE
My Lords, I should like, with your permission, to ask the Under-Secretar27 of State for War the Question which stands in my name on the Paper.
§ [The Question was as follows:—To ask His Majesty's Government whether there is any truth in the statement which appeared in a prominent place in a London daily newspaper on the 27th instant to the effect that during the evacuation of the Rhineland much valuable property had had to be thrown into the Rhine, and, if true, whether it can be stated of what articles this property consisted, what is the estimated value of them, and on whom does the loss ultimately fall.]
§ THE UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE FOR WAR (EARL DE LA WARR)
My Lords, I am very glad to be given an opportunity of dealing with this question. There is no truth in the state- 374 ment made in the Press, and for that reason I am glad to have the opportunity of correcting what was published. The facts are that so far as concerns Army stores, to which specific reference was made in the publication referred to, an agreement was reached with the German Government prior to the evacuation that surplus Government stores other than wines, spirits, tobacco and foodstuffs, could be sold locally in Wiesbaden free of duty, and a certain quantity of stores such as lorries, parts of harness, etc., were so sold. All Government stores which were not disposed of locally were brought home and none were thrown into the Rhine.
The agreement did not cover and was not intended to cover stocks belonging to the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes, which is a business concern whose stores are not Government property or responsibility. But I am informed that in their case all serviceable stores were evacuated from Germany and that only unserviceable and broken articles were left behind. I aim further informed that the price these would have been likely to fetch would not have covered the selling costs and duties. As the only economical method of disposal they were therefore thrown into the river at a spot where reclamation operations are in process of being carried out. I should like to repeat that these stores were not Army stores or Government property, and that the War Office has no responsibility for them. I trust that as much publicity 'will be given to these facts as was accorded to the, incorrect and misleading report.
§ LORD NEWTON
My Lords, as newspapers are far too much afraid of each other to show up any one of their number, perhaps it may be worth while for me to point out that this perfectly astonishing statement appeared in the Daily Mail. I observed that neither the questioner nor the Minister who answered the question mentioned this paper at all, but this paper is the property of a nobleman who is at the present moment the self-constituted regenerator of this country, and this is the sort of stuff he serves out to his readers.