asked the Secretary of State for War whether his Department is responsible for the total loss of five ricks of hay of the value of £350 at Bythan farm, near Marlborough, which were purchased by the Forage Committee in 1919, which were allowed to rot, and in respect of which he has had to pay compensation to the owner of the land; and the names of the officials or persons who are responsible for this waste of Government property?
§ Sir A. WILLIAMSON
The hay referred to was not bought for the War Department, but for the Civil Supplies Department. I am informed that approximately 17 tons were purchased, the total value being £110 18s. 6d., and not £350 as stated in the question. According to the custom of the Civil Supplies Department the hay was allotted to a forage merchant who subsequently cut it, but for some reason did not cart it away. A dispute arose between the farmer and the Civil Supplies Department, and it was referred to the Farm Produce County Committee for Wiltshire in accordance with the arbitration clause of the purchase note. The recommendations of the County Committee have to be approved by the Forage Committee before they can be made binding, and I understand that the matter will come before the latter committee to-morrow for decision.