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Issued Stores (Allied Governments)

Volume 441: debated on Tuesday 29 July 1947

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asked the Secretary of State for War what claims have now been submitted to Allied Governments in respect of Army stores issued since the cessation of mutual-aid agreements; what amounts have been debited to each Government concerned; why it has been thought advisable to prepare individual vouchers showing detailed issues to individual units when this breakdown, if required, was the responsibility of the Allied Army concerned; what number of staff, in addition to the 76 employed in June, 1947, at central ordnance depots, have been employed on this work at other ordnance depots and elsewhere; and whether the manpower committee investigating processes and methods in ordnance depots have reported favourably on this procedure and have recommended that it be continued.

Nearly a thousand separate claims in respect of Army stores issued since the cessation of mutual aid agreements have already been submitted to Allied Governments, at various times and through various channels. A laborious investigation, involving the diversion of staff from more useful work, would, therefore, be necessary before figures could be given of the separate amounts debited to each Government concerned, but the total value of these claims is approximately £50,000,000.The majority of the stores concerned were issued direct to individual Allied units, either on their formation or subsequently when they were serving in the field. The preparation of vouchers recording issues to particular units was, therefore, necessary in order to ensure the availability of detailed documentary evidence of issue in case the Governments concerned should question the validity of the relevant claims when presented. As the onus of proof of issue rests upon the party claiming payment, the production of these details could not have been left to the Allied armies concerned without jeopardising our prospects of recovering the very large sums of money involved.No staff is employed on this work at other ordnance depots; 74 members of the War Office staff were employed in connection with it a year ago, and 45 are so employed now. The committee to which I presume my hon. Friend is referring has made no recommendation on this matter in its report.