HC Deb 15 August 1919 vol 119 cc1800-1W

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Munitions whether any account exists of the very large number of boxes and packing cases used by the Ministry of Munitions, the estimated value of which is said to be between £12,000,000 and £14,000,000 sterling; whether any account exists showing the number and value of such boxes supplied on free issue to the 10,000 Ministry contractors for the purpose of the delivery of material; whether a number of boxes were sold by one Department to a contractor at 6d. each and the same boxes bought back by another department at 5s. 6d. each, and what, if any action was taken by the Ministry in the matter; and whether a Committee of Inquiry will be appointed to investigate the irregularities which are reported to exist in the Ministry of Munitions?


I do not understand the figure of from £12,000,000 to £14,000,000 which my hon. Friend gives as the esti- mated value of boxes and packing cases used by the Ministry. The present residual value of surplus boxes and packing cases probably does not amount to one-thirtieth of that figure. The Ministry have investigated the question of boxes outstanding with contractors, but the realisable value of these boxes does not usually pay for the cost of disposal. I am unable to trace any transaction such as that referred to in the third part of the question, but if my hon. Friend will supply me with definite details I will make immediate inquiries. A Committee was appointed by the Minister in April last to inquire into various allegations which had been made with regard to the supply and disposal of boxes, but the evidence in support of these allegations was found to be quite unreliable.