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Ministry Of Supply

Volume 465: debated on Monday 23 May 1949

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Motorcars (Priority Delivery)


asked the Minister of Supply what classes of user now rank for priority for the delivery of motorcars; and in what order of priority is delivery to be made among these various classes.

The motor industry is giving priority to orders from doctors, district nurses and midwives. They have also undertaken to give special consideration to orders from veterinary surgeons sponsored by the National Veterinary Medical Association and to distribute the remainder of their supplies to the home market in accordance with the importance and urgency of the user's need.

Would the right hon. Gentleman say where the claims of local authorities and Government Departments come in the question of these priorities?

As I have indicated, the motor manufacturers have undertaken to give some priority to special cases where the public interest is involved, but there is no special priority for these vehicles.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that some retailers, at any rate, are under the impression that Government Departments and local authorities have claims prior to those of doctors and midwives, and will he disabuse them of this idea?

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether a doctor's priority still has to be certified by the B.M.A.?

Does the reply of the Minister mean that the local dealer has full authority to decide who shall have the priority? If that is the case, what steps have been taken by his Department or responsible people to make the dealer fully aware of what he has to do?

The industry itself has undertaken to see that its priority scheme shall be administered properly. My Department has no authority in the matter, and has deliberately given full responsibility to the motor industry.

Can the Minister tell the House if visiting dentists to rural schools are allowed priority?

I think that is the kind of case where the applicant would have to get the authority of the British Medical Association or some similar body.

Imported Metals (Contracts)


asked the Minister of Supply to state, in relation to each base metal bought in bulk by his Department, the length of contracts entered into and the countries with which such contracts have been made.

As the answer is rather long, I will, with the hon. and gallant Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the answer:

My Department has the following contracts for imported metal:

Aluminium: The current contract covers deliveries from Canada up to March, 1950.

Copper: Contracts cover deliveries up to the end of this year from Canada, Rhodesia, the Belgian Congo and Chile.

Lead and Zinc: Contracts cover deliveries up to the end of June, 1949, for both metals from Canada and Australia and for lead from Northern Rhodesia.

Tin Ore: from Nigeria and East Africa. No period is fixed for these contracts, which are subject to termination by three months' notice.

Tin Metal: from Malaya. My Department has agreed to buy the total output until further notice.

Chrome Ore: Current contracts cover deliveries up to the end of October from Rhodesia and Baluchistan; up to September, 1949, from the Philippines; and April, 1950, from Turkey.

Imported steel is purchased in bulk by the British Iron and Steel Corporation under the supervision of the Ministry of Supply.

German Timber (Shipment)


asked the Minister of Supply what were the freight and handling costs of importing 625 tons of timber from Blohm and Voss shipyard, Hamburg, in the s.s. "Stream Fisher," discharged at Leith on or about 10th May; and what steps are being taken to prevent a recurrence of the waste of public funds resulting from the import of poor quality, second-hand German timber of this nature.

The cost to the Ministry of Supply of shipping this timber was £1,640. My information is that the timber was shipped as a result of a misunderstanding. The Disposals Group in Hamburg have, however, already been asked for a full report and I will write to the hon. Member when the matter has been investigated.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in Scotland we look very closely upon the activities of his Department, that it causes us a great deal of disappointment that this import has taken place under a misunderstanding, and that we hope the right hon. Gentleman will do better in future?

My Department came into this transaction as a sort of shipping agency; we are not responsible. It does not follow that there will be any loss as a result of this transaction.

Is the Minister aware that in Scotland we are glad to get timber from anywhere?