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Ministry Of Supply

Volume 476: debated on Monday 26 June 1950

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Steel Prices


asked the Minister of Supply why price control regulations remain necessary for steel, rolled and re-rolled steel products and wire, excepting only steel sheet and tinplate.

Iron and steel prices are controlled in conformity with the Government's policy of maintaining over as wide a field as possible low and stable prices of essential commodities.

Is the Minister aware that as a result of continued price control many manufacturers who are steel consumers are deprived of selective buying advantages? Would he consider price decontrolling those items of steel of which an abundant supply is available?

Dismantled Tanks (Sale)


asked the Minister of Supply if he is aware that dismantled Sherman and Churchill tanks, stripped of their armaments, are, by arrangement with American and British dealers, now being sold at substantial profits and finally shipped to a Mediterranean seaport; and what check on destination the Disposals Board has kept on the recent big purchases by British dealers who trade in scrap metal for export.

The bulk of these tanks is sold as scrap under contracts which provide that the tanks should be broken up and the scrap metal re-melted. Dismantled Sherman and Churchill tanks, which can be used as vehicles, have been -sold to the highest competitive bidders. I have no information about any re-sales, but the Board of Trade keep a check on overseas destinations of such tanks, when dealing with applications for export licences.

Is not the Minister aware that these tanks are being sold to Palestine despite the declaration by the Western Powers that that country already has sufficient defensive weapons for its needs?

No, Sir, I am not aware where these vehicles have gone. Vehicles which are sent abroad are completely demilitarised; they are sold as tractors and as vehicles useful in other directions.

Official Car Pool


asked the Minister of Supply what are the overtime rates paid to chauffeurs of official cars waiting outside this House during late Sittings; and how many of these drivers waited till 6.30 a.m. on Thursday, 15th June.

Overtime rates paid to chauffeurs of official cars are 3s. 1d. an hour for the first two hours each day and 3s. 8¼d. thereafter. No driver waited until 6.30 a.m. on Thursday, 15th June, but twelve drivers reported at the House for duty between 6.30 a.m. and 7 a.m.

Does the Minister consider that keeping men up to these late hours in order to drive Ministers only a short distance from this House is in accord with the best principles?

I do not think that the right hon. and gallant Member could have heard my reply. No cars were kept there all night. Certain cars reported for duty at 6.30 a.m.

What is the latest hour of the night or early morning to which official cars are kept with drivers as a matter of normal routine?

There is no normal routine in the matter of the latest hour. No car was kept on that particular morning after 2.30.

Motor Cars (Distribution)


asked the Minister of Supply whether he is aware of the dissatisfaction at the present method of distribution of new motor cars; and whether he will bring in legislation to introduce controls to ensure a more just system.


asked the Minister of Supply if he will inquire into the present method of allocating new motor cars to purchasers in the home market, with a view to finding means of removing the dissatisfaction with the existing arrangements.

The shortage of cars in the home market is bound to lead to complaints about methods of distribution. I am satisfied that the reintroduction of a statutory control would not be justified.

Is the Minister aware that I can supply him with numerous examples of people having obtained four or five new cars in the past four years, and that an "under the counter" system of distribution is now in full swing? Will my right hon. Friend take some steps to remedy this disreputable practice?

I agree with my hon. Friend; I believe that there has been a measure of abuse in this matter, though I think it has been considerably exaggerated. I have recently been in touch with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, who have arranged to try to tighten up their controls.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a large number of 1949 models are being advertised in the Press, especially in the local Press in Birmingham, which is causing considerable dissatisfaction among some of my constituents who have been waiting for three years for cars?

I have heard of that practice, but I have also heard that when an applicant goes to buy one of those cars he usually finds that it is not there.

In view of the importance of this question and the knowledge in my possession, I propose to raise this matter on the Adjournment.

Public Relations Employee (Suspension)


asked the Minister of Supply on what date Mr. Pat Dooley was suspended from work in the public relations department of the Ministry; what was his employment at the time of his suspension; what were the reasons for his suspension; what was his salary at the time; what is the total amount of money that has been paid to him since his suspension; and what is his present employment.

Mr. Dooley, who was employed as editor of "R.O.F. News", was sent on special leave with pay on 7th May, 1948, because he was regarded as coming within the scope of the Prime Minister's statement of 15th March, 1948. His salary then was £916 16s. a year and £1,451 12s. was paid to him whilst he was on special leave. This special leave and payment to him ceased on 30th November, 1949, when his employment with the Department was finally terminated.

Has the Minister any information as to the present whereabouts of this gentleman, as to why his employment has been terminated, and whether he is now working for the Cominform in Eastern Europe?