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Gretna Factory

Volume 154: debated on Monday 15 May 1922

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asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury what is the position as regards the sale of Gretna works; and whether any offer to purchase has been received?

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Disposal Board has refused an offer by a responsible syndicate to buy the Government factory at Gretna at a price to be fixed by independent valuation, thereby preventing the development of the area for industrial purposes by holding out for a figure beyond its commercial value?

I understand that statements to this effect have appeared in the Press. They are without foundation, and I am glad to have been given an opportunity of refuting them. No offer by a syndicate to buy the Government factory at Gretna upon an independent valuation nor any offer for the estate with payment of the purchase money upon completion has ever been made. The only offers which have been received were wholly unacceptable, not only because of the inadequacy of the amount, but also because of the terms asked for in respect of deferred payment. It is true that those who have been in negotiation have expressed disapproval of what they apparently believe to be the Government valuation, notwithstanding the fact that the amount of this has not been disclosed. The Government is, however, satisfied with the report which has been made by two eminent valuers. Sir Howard Frank, Chairman of the Disposal and Liquidation Commission, has, moreover, himself inspected the property on several occasions. The Government has so much confidence in the advice that it has received from these sources that it is prepared to give immediate consideration to any offer to buy this property at a price to be fixed by independent valuers of repute to be agreed upon, provided the offer is from responsible people, and upon terms of payment which can be approved.