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61 Maintenance Unit (Thefts)

Volume 463: debated on Wednesday 13 April 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for Air the recorded loss through pilferage since the end of the war at No. 61 Maintenance Unit; and, in view of the recent criticism at the Chester Quarter Sessions, what special steps he is taking to improve security.

The loss is £3,760. The unit is guarded by Air Ministry constabulary and Service police with police dogs. All locks at the unit have been changed and in future they will be changed at frequent but irregular intervals.

Is not the Minister aware that the area concerned there is enormous and that obviously, as it is at present arranged, security is impossible? Does he intend to reduce the area, which he would agree is somewhat scattered?

I agree that it is a large area. I regret that there has been any pilfering at all, but I do not think the security is bad because £3,700 out of about £40 million worth of stores and equipment is not such a great loss.

Is the Minister aware that an officer giving evidence at Chester Quarter Sessions said he did not know what was there for the last 12 months and therefore did not know what the pilfering had been?

I am not surprised at that at all. The officer at the quarter sessions was an adjutant who went to give evidence of the character of three airmen. He was not in a position to know the value of the stores in question.

If there is £40 million worth of equipment which is inadequately protected, would the Minister take every precaution against sabotage of this Government property?

I am sorry if I misled the House. The figure of approximately £40 million is the rough total value of the stores there now and the stores handled since the war, which is the period covered by this Question. There would be about £20 million of stores there now, and on the whole I consider that the protection is good.