HL Deb 16 October 1945 vol 137 cc272-3

2.48 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask the question standing in my name.

[The question was as follows:

To ask what is the policy of His Majesty's Government in regard to the disposal of surplus stores of all kinds, and what steps have been taken up to date in disposing of such stores.]


My Lords, arrangements have been worked out for disposing of most of the types of Government stores of which surpluses may be expected. These arrangements are based on the principles stated in paragraph 10 of the White Paper issued in July, 1944. Subject to the necessity of clearing badly-needed storage space, the surplus stores will be distributed mainly through the trades which normally handle the particular type of goods in order to ensure proper distribution throughout the country at reasonable prices. Some types of goods will be distributed by the original makers, others through wholesalers, and others direct to dealers. Goods in short supply will, as far as possible, be sold at negotiated and controlled prices, while others will be sold by tender restricted, where necessary, to members of the trades concerned. A certain quantity of stores and equipment of various kinds in this country has already been made available both for the home market and for overseas requirements, particularly those of relief; but over the greater part of the field the extent of the surpluses which will be available for the civilian home market cannot yet be ascertained.


My Lords, arising out of that reply may I ask whether it is to be understood that there is an intention to deviate in any substantial degree from the Command Paper 6539 to which reference has been made? May I also ask whether it is to be understood that any accelerated means are being followed to achieve the distribution of military transport, as was urged so eloquently in your Lordships' House last week by the noble Marquess, Lord Reading?


I have had no notice of these questions, but I will refer them to the Department or Departments concerned and let the noble Lord have an answer as soon as my degree of erudition in this subject has been carried to an even higher pitch.


My Lords, may I ask if the Government are entertaining the idea of setting up a Disposals Board such as that which in 1919 enabled the Government to retrieve an immense sum of money under Lord Inverforth?


Perhaps the noble Lord would allow that question also to be dealt with on a subsequent occasion.


My Lords, having been a member of the Surplus Government Property Disposals Board appointed after the last war, may I be allowed to add that I would urge very strongly the noble Lord to make representations that there should be renewed examination of the procedure which, after the last war, achieved a more rapid disposal than is evidenced at present?