Surplus Stocks and Equipment (Disposal)

Oral Answers to Questions — British Army – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 18th December 1957.

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Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington 12:00 am, 18th December 1957

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will give an estimate of the stocks and equipment in his Department which are surplus to requirements, and the value of this material; and what steps he is taking for its disposal.

Photo of Mr John Hare Mr John Hare , Sudbury and Woodbridge

In the United Kingdom, there are about 400,000 tons of equipment and 15,000 vehicles at present declared surplus. At a rough estimate, the disposal value is £10 million. Disposal is being arranged by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply in the usual way. About 40,000 tons of surplus equipment in our depots overseas is in course of disposal by the local military authorities.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

I have no doubt the right hon. Gentleman is doing his best, but is it not possible to improve on that result by taking this business out of the hands of the Ministry of Supply? Is there not a great deal of dilatoriness on the part of the Ministry of Supply in disposing of surplus goods? What is the point of having the surplus goods? Are they not absorbing accommodation and manpower and, therefore, involving expenditure; and is that desirable?

Photo of Mr John Hare Mr John Hare , Sudbury and Woodbridge

That has not been my experience in dealing with the Ministry of Supply, but if I give the right hon. Gentleman this information I think it will help him in getting the answer that I think he wants. We actually received about £6·2 million from sales in this country last year, and in the current year we expect to receive about £12 million. So, in fact, the rate of disposal is considerably higher this year than it was last.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

I do not suppose that it is possible for the Minister to say what expenditure is incurred by the Ministry of Supply in the disposal of these goods?

Photo of Mr John Hare Mr John Hare , Sudbury and Woodbridge

I think that the right hon. Gentleman had better put down a Question to the Ministry of Supply on that.