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Navy—Sale Of Stores At Woolwich Dockyard—Question

Volume 203: debated on Thursday 21 July 1870

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said, he wished to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty, Whether loss has not been incurred by recent sales of Government Stores at the Royal Dockyard, Woolwich; and, in particular, whether, on the 13th June last, "a self-acting curvilinear saw frame" (the recent cost of which to Her Majesty's Government was over £900) was sold for £70; and, that "two wrought-iron paddle-wheel shafts," weighing over 45 tons (the recent cost of which to Her Majesty's Government was over £500), were sold for £16 each; and, whether it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to continue such a sale of Government Stores?

Sir, in answer to the Question of the hon. Gentleman, I beg to say that a self-acting curvilinear saw frame, which originally cost about £800, was sold on the 13th of June last, at Woolwich, for £70; but the cost of its removal and re-erection will be at least £60, so that £130 will represent the cost to the purchaser. This machine was erected more than 20 years ago, is quite obsolete, and of a type rarely, if ever, seen out of a Government Yard. It was very doubtful whether anyone would bid for it, and the officers were only too glad to get the £70. Two! wrought-iron paddle-wheel shafts, weighing, not 45, but 22 tons, were sold for £16 each. They were returned many years ago from the Retribution, and were in such bad condition as to be perfectly useless for any other purpose than as old iron. Considering that all the good machinery had been removed from Woolwich to other yards, and that nothing was sold that was not obsolete and could not be used for the service, very excellent prices were obtained at the public sale there; prices, in fact, on the whole, greatly above the valuation, and which surprised both the auctioneer and the superintending Government officials. I may add that we have been equally fortunate at the sales at Deptford and Devonport, all the auctions having been largely attended, and the stores sold having brought prices exceeding our most sanguine expectations. In many cases the prime cost was approached, and in some even exceeded. The sum paid into the Exchequer at the close of the financial year I expect to be very large, and as everything has been retained which the officers reported might by any possibility be required for the public service, I feel confident that the House will be of opinion that a wise course has been followed.