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Volume 393: debated on Tuesday 9 November 1943

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asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that a firm, of which he has been informed, is cutting up tanks for scrap; what types of tanks these are; and whether any of them have been used in action?

Yes, Sir, I am aware that tanks are being cut up for scrap. They are those which are either worn out or which through the passage of time have become obsolete. To state what types are involved would be of value to the enemy. The answer to the last part of the Question is "Yes, Sir."

Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to state the name of the firm which is doing this work? Is he aware that I have in my hand a report which states clearly that some of the tanks being cut up are practically new, having been made as recently as last year?

Will my right hon. Friend now give instructions that no manpower, and materials of ordnance and R.E.M.E. shall be wasted in the overhaul of the tanks which are now obsolete?

My hon. Friend has a Question on the Paper about it. It is quite a different point.

Why did the right hon. Gentleman think it necessary to remove the name of the firm from the Question if he does not even know what the name of the firm is? I gave it.


asked the Secretary of State for War whether the recent comparative trials of American Sherman tanks with British A.27 (M) and A.27 (L) tanks has proved the A.27 (M) to be the best?

It is not in the public interest to disclose information relating to comparative trials of armoured fighting vehicles.

Will my right hon. Friend now take to heart the lessons of this trial, and will he see that these very reliable Sherman tanks, which are now available in very large quantities in this country, are allocated to British units?

This Question is the one which my hon. Friend asked last week, and it is the one which I answered last week.

Would it not be a more accurate reply to say it would be extremely embarrassing to the Government if the truth were told about it?


asked the Secretary of State for War whether it is with his knowledge and approval that personnel of R.E.M.E. are engaged on the overhaul of tanks of a type which have never fought, are now not intended to fight and are in process of being consigned to the scrap heap?

All armoured vehicles undergoing overhaul in R.E.M.E. workshops are required by the Army either as fighting tanks or for special roles. It is not in the public interest to describe the special military purposes for which certain types of tanks are still required.

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that there is not a gross waste of man-power and material in overhauling tanks which soon are to be scrapped?

That is repeating the Question in the same form, and I repeat my answer in the same form.

In view of the considerable anxiety which appears to exist on this tank question in certain quarters of the House, is it not time we had at any rate some information disclosed, possibly in Secret Session, in order that the matter may be cleared up?

The suggestion for a secret Debate is one that should be made to the Leader of the House. Personally, I have no reason to fear a secret Debate.