asked the Secretary of State for War if his attention has been drawn to a statement made by Mr. Lister, chairman of the British Legion, to the effect that he and his committee are satisfied that the sum of £7,200,000 is the amount which the United Services Fund will receive from the war canteen profits, whereas about £13,000,000 are involved; on what authority Mr. Lister was able to make this definite statement to the British Legion conference; if Mr. Lister or any other official of the British Legion and United Services Fund has had access to the canteen accounts, or been given information thereon which has been asked for repeatedly in this House and invariably refused; and if he will now give instructions for full particulars concerning the accounts of the Expeditionary Force canteens and the Navy and Army Canteen Board to be placed upon the Table of the House for the information of its Members?
The United Services Fund, of the Council of which Mr. Lister is a member, have agreed to accept a sum of £3,351,000 in final settlement of the balance of their claim; this sum, added to the payment of £3,849,000, which, as indicated in the Report of the Committee presided over by my hon. Friend the Member for the Ecclesall Division of Sheffield (Sir S. Roberts), has already been ma& to them, makes up the total of £7,200,000 to which, I understand, Mr. Lister referred. The accounts, as I have previously stated, are not yet ready, and I am not, therefore, in a position to order their publication, but the Council of the United Services. Fund was put in possession of the information then available.
asked the Secretary of State for War if the profits made by the Expeditionary Force Canteens are to be utilised for payment of losses made by the Navy and Army Canteen Board during 1919–20; whether he is aware that these profits were designated for a fund to benefit the members of the Army and Air Force and their dependants; and whether he will take steps to prevent the money being utilised for payment of losses incurred by a trading organisation in which the Navy is a partner?
The answer to the first two parts of the question is in the affirmative, and to the last part in the negative. The losses made by the Navy and Army Canteen Board were not due to the partnership of the Navy in that organisation, but to the circumstances of the Army and Air Force during the period of its operations, and it is consequently only equitable that those losses should be set against the profits of the earlier period. I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the Report of the Committee presided over by my hon. Friend the Member for the Eeclesall Division of Sheffield (Sir S. Roberts), on the fifth page of which the course that I have indicated is recommended.