HC Deb 13 March 1919 vol 113 cc1479-81W

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will state who is responsible for the Regulations considered to be necessary for the realisation of the stocks of aeronautical plywood in this country at the date of the Armistice or contracted to be purchased by His Majesty's Government at that time; whether he will cause inquiries to be made of the S.M. 7 Department (Aircraft Supplies) as to whether any and what offers were received by that Department for the purchase of the entire stock re- ferred to; whether, on the 28th day of January last, a firm offer extending over three weeks was received of 47s. 6d. per 100 square feet for the purchase of such entire stock; if he will state whether, on the intervention of the Timber Controller or that of some other and what controller, the provisional arrangements made by the S.M. 7 Department (Aircraft Supplies) to accept the offer above referred to were overruled; if he will state whether 2,500,000 square feet were placed by the Timber Controller with Messrs, Foy, Morgan and Company, timber brokers, for disposal; whether Messrs. Foy, Morgan and Company, in the absence of any adequate accommodation for the storage of the plywood at Liverpool, stacked the same in open sheds and that, consequent on weather conditions, the value has deteriorated; and if he will likewise state the amount of loss occasioned to the Treasury consequent upon the cancelling of the provisional order previously referred to?


I have been asked to take this question. The Ministry of Munitions is responsible for regulating the disposal of surplus aeronautical plywood which is being carried out under the Timber Controller, who is also Controller of Surplus Timber Disposal under the Surplus Government Property Disposal Board. Certain offers were received for the purchase of the entire stock referred to, including an offer in the terms mentioned in the question, but no provisional arrangements were made by S.M. 7 Section of the Aircraft Production Department to accept that or any other offer. With regard to that offer, the Timber Controller was consulted, and, as the price offered was less than half the c.i.f. cost to United Kingdom port, he considered that it would be unwise to accept the offer before asking other manufacturers and dealers to tender for the plywood. The Aircraft Production Department agreed, and the offer was refused.

Considerable quantities of plywood have been placed with Messrs. Foy, Morgan and Company, as brokers, and have been stored in Liverpool and London. A representative who has just returned from Liverpool states that the goods have been properly stored in dry warehouses, and have not deteriorated in any way No loss has resulted from the refusal of the offer referred to. I may add that it has been decided that publicity should be given in. every ease as to the disposal of surplus Government timber, and that, where possible, sales should be by public auction or public tender.