Gretna Factory (Disposal).

Oral Answers to Questions — Coal Industry. – in the House of Commons on 5th July 1922.

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Photo of Mr William Shaw Mr William Shaw , Forfarshire

60.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether his attention has been drawn to a memorandum with regard to the disposal of Gretna factory circulated to Members by the Annan Town Council, in particular to the statement that a syndicate composed of men of high repute and substance was prepared to launch out a large sum upon the acquisition of the property; and, if so, whether he intends to take any official action in the matter?

Photo of Mr John Baird Mr John Baird , Rugby

My attention has been drawn to the memorandum in question, and I propose to circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT correspondence rising therefrom between the Chairman of the Disposal and Liquidation Commission and the Annan Town Council.

Following is the correspondence referred to:

Copy.

Disposal and Liquidation Commission.

Caxton House West, S.W.I.

25th May, 1922.

DEAR SIR,

My attention has been called to your council's memorandum to Members of Parliament, dated the 15th instant, regarding Gretna factory. The statement in that memorandum, that the Government has modified its position, or changed its policy, has no foundation in fact. That statement has been publicly contradicted already.

The position is that the Government is now, and always has been, anxious to sell Gretna as a whole, but the syndicate, to which your memorandum so frequently refers, has never made any offer whatever and to refer to "negotiations" being brought to a successful issue is, therefore, very misleading.

In arriving at the value of Gretna as a whole, every reasonable allowance has been made, and it is inaccurate to suggest that the scrap value will not pay for restoration. Moreover, in making the suggestion, your council are, in fact, depreciating public property.

The value which has been placed upon the estate has not been disclosed, and it is. therefore, a little difficult to understand how anyone can arrive at the conclusion that such value is too high.

If your council have the knowledge of the syndicate which your memorandum appears to imply, I would suggest that you inform them that I shall only be too happy to discuss the subject of sale with responsible people who are prepared to negotiate, but there must be no delay.

Yours faithfully,

(Signed) HOWARD FRANK.

The Town Clerk,

Annan, N.B.

Copy.

Disposal and Liquidation Commission,

Caxton House West, S.W.I.

7th June, 1922.

DEAR SIR,

I have to thank you for your telegram of the 2nd instant and for your letter confirming same.

I note that your Town Council will meet within the nest 10 days. I must confess, having regard to the terms of the letter which was addressed to Members of Parliament, that I thought this matter was regarded by your Town Council as sufficiently urgent to justify a special meeting.

I am very anxious to receive the offer for the whole of Gretna, but, as I have already explained, the Commission is unable to wait indefinitely. You will remember the property has been advertised for disposal as a whole for quite nine months, and up to the present time those of whom you speak in your letter have not made any definite proposal whatever.

If it will facilitate matters, I should be very happy to see you, or a responsible member of the syndicate, either this week or early next week.

Yours faithfully,

(Signed) HOWARD FRANK.

The Town Clerk,

Annan, N.B.

Copy.

Town Hall,

Annan, N.B.

3th June, 1922.

Gretna Factory.

DEAR SIR,

Referring to our correspondence I have now submitted your letters of the 25th May and 7th instant to a meeting of the Town Council of Annan and have received instructions to reply thereto.

Without going further into a discussion of questions that may very well be set aside for the time being as of a more or less controversial nature, and as to which the council may be moved to make such representation as they deem necessary from time to time, the council desire me to say that in what they have done they have been actuated by a desire to see removed any obstacle that seemed to prevent an agreement between the Disposal Board and the proposed purchasers. The council have reason to believe that the Disposal Board were, in September and December of last year, in correspondence with a firm on behalf of the syndicate referred to, and the council had hoped that a resumption of the negotiations might have resulted in something satisfactory to the county and district. They ask me to express the hope that something may yet be done.

Yours faithfully,

(Signed) MURRAY LITTLE.

Sir Howard Frank,

Caxton House.