Surplus Government Property (Disposal).

Oral Answers to Questions — Munitions. – in the House of Commons on 19th February 1919.

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Captain TERRELL:

84.

asked the Minister of Munitions whether opportunity will be given the farmers to purchase, under the most favourable conditions, lorries, tractors, and machinery and implements generally, not now needed by the authorities but which are useful for farming operations?

Photo of Mr Frederick Kellaway Mr Frederick Kellaway , Bedford

Stores of the kind referred to are being sold after full advertisement in the local press. Farmers have, therefore, every opportunity of knowing what goods are to be disposed of. No preference can be given to any class of individuals in regard to price.

Photo of Sir Charles Edwards Sir Charles Edwards , Bedwellty

May I ask whether these things are being sold direct to the farmers, or the parish authorities, or whether intermediate contractors have been set up by the Government?

Photo of Mr Frederick Kellaway Mr Frederick Kellaway , Bedford

The Government has not set up intermediate contractors. In most cases they are sold direct.

Colonel LOWTHER:

Will the hon. Gentleman say what has become of the motor cars given by private individuals—will they be able to get them back on application, seeing the scarcity of motor cars in this country?

Photo of Mr Frederick Kellaway Mr Frederick Kellaway , Bedford

Unless they belong to the Government they will not be sold.

Colonel LOWTHER:

I mean motor cars that have been given for use as ambulances, and, now that the War is over, are no longer required?

Photo of Mr Frederick Kellaway Mr Frederick Kellaway , Bedford

I should like to know the circumstances in this case. Certainly we do not want to keep property belonging to other people.

Photo of Sir John Norton-Griffiths Sir John Norton-Griffiths , Wandsworth Central

Will the hon. Gentleman take steps to advise that when lorries are to be sold they will not be put up in lots of fifty and upwards, but will be put up singly, so that individuals will have an opportunity of bidding for them, instead of dealers being forced to bid for the whole, leaving the individual out?

Photo of Mr Frederick Kellaway Mr Frederick Kellaway , Bedford

I think the suggestion is a very good one, and at shall be brought to the notice of this controller of the section. As a matter of fact, I believe it is being done.

Sir F. HALL:

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that nine, lorries, which were supposed to be put up singly, were recently put up in one lot to suit the auctioneer, and before leaving the room the purchaser sold four for the price of the nine, and so got five for nothing?

Photo of Mr Frederick Kellaway Mr Frederick Kellaway , Bedford

I am not aware of it, but I shall be glad if my hon. and gallant Friend will give me the details.

Sir F. HALL:

I will.

Photo of Mr James Sexton Mr James Sexton , St Helens

86.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Munitions if he will give details of any sales of State property, whether of works, plant, or materials, which have been made by his Department since hostilities ceased, with dates, prices, and all important relevant particulars, including the names of the selling agents, whether officials of the Ministry or otherwise?

Photo of Mr Frederick Kellaway Mr Frederick Kellaway , Bedford

The duty of disposing of surplus Government property was placed upon the Ministry of Munitions by the War Cabinet on 15th November last, but the actual transfer of functions has only been completed during the past few days. A disposal organisation has now been set up, particulars of which were given in the Press on the 10th instant. In the circumstances I am not yet in a position to give precise answers to my hon. Friend's questions.

Photo of Mr John Davison Mr John Davison , Smethwick

87.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Munitions if he can state that no further sales of any State property whatsoever in the control of the Ministry of Munitions will be made except by public auction; and if he will give full particulars of any sales which have so far been made, giving the conditions of the sales, names of purchasers, the price obtained, ete.?

Photo of Mr Frederick Kellaway Mr Frederick Kellaway , Bedford

Whilst the greater part of the surplus Government property will be sold by public auction, I think it would be undesirable to lay down a rule that no other form of sale may be adopted. For reason stated in answer to question No. 86, I am not yet in a position to give the detailed information asked for by my hon. Friend.

Colonel LOWTHER:

Will the huts be given to the Society for Disabled Soldiers and Sailors?

Photo of Mr Frederick Kellaway Mr Frederick Kellaway , Bedford

I am sorry we cannot undertake to give away Government property under any circumstanced, or to anybody.

Photo of Mr John Davison Mr John Davison , Smethwick

88.

asked how many of the national factories the Government has decided to sell; what these factories cost to build and equip; whether it is proposed to put them up to public auction or to dispose of them privately; whether officials or ex-officials of the Ministry will be allowed to purchase them; and whether a reserve price will be set upon each of them bearing some relation to the cost of construction and equipment?

Photo of Mr Frederick Kellaway Mr Frederick Kellaway , Bedford

Up to the present, thirteen national factories have been advertised as available for disposal. The cost of the sites, buildings, and equipment of these factories is, approximately, £2,940,000. No factory will be disposed of, except after full advertisement, but the decision whether the sale shall be by public auction, tender, or private treaty must depend on the circumstances of each case. No national factory will be sold to any official or ex-official of the Ministry, except after the sale has been publicly advertised and when the price offered is the highest. Where the property is sold by public auction, a reserve price will be fixed, but the cost of construction and equipment does not necessarily have any relation to the present value.

Photo of Mr Henry Wilson-Fox Mr Henry Wilson-Fox , Tamworth

Is the hon. Gentleman advising every sale for cash only, or is he prepared to sell for other considerations?

Photo of Mr Frederick Kellaway Mr Frederick Kellaway , Bedford

I am not aware of any case where there have been other considerations!