§ Lieut.-Colonel WILLEY
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty when barges from the Thames formerly employed in the transportation of wool from the lower docks to the wool warehouses, London Docks, which were taken over by the Admiralty, will be released; if any barges which are the property of the Admiralty are now lying unused in the Surrey Commercial Dock, and whether they can be released on hire to the Port of London Authority or other agencies to bring them into commission for commercial use?
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
My hon. and gallant Friend was informed by the Ministry of Shipping on 31st July regarding Thames barges hired, of which twelve appear to be still in France, and, therefore, have not, so far, been returned to commercial purposes. I am advised that these twelve will probably be shortly available. Additional to those, we acquired 150 barges, of which seventy had been previously engaged in the Thames. None of these have so far been returned to commercial purposes. They are awaiting570W further service at various Scottish ports. We have none in the Surrey Commercial Dock, and if there are any there, apparently my hon. and gallant Friend should make inquiry respecting them of the Ministry of Shipping. As regards the barges still in our charge, a number will be required for permanent Admiralty service to replace losses during the War and to release to the commercial trade other barges now on hire by the Admiralty at His Majesty's dockyards. As regards the remainder, steps will be taken to dispose of a number forthwith, pending decisions as to the requirements of other Departments. There ought to be no delay in determining these requirements, and if any thereafter remain undisposed of, they, too, will be returned to commercial purposes as expeditiously as possible.