asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty to what extent it is the practice of his Department to accept always the highest tender for properties and plant to be disposed of; and to what extent he consults other Departments in order to safeguard the wider public interest.
The Admiralty always sells at the highest price unless there are special reasons in the wider public interest for preferring some lower offer. Because of these wider interests the Admiralty invariably consults other Departments before disposal. Properties suitable for industrial use are considered by the Board of Trade—in the light of its statutory responsibilities under the Local Employment Act, 1960—in concert with the Ministry of Labour and any other interested Departments such as the Scottish Office.
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that no wider public interest was served on this occasion, only the question of price?
We believed that the employment probabilities of both competing tenderers were equal. The Board of Trade judged the same. Therefore, we took notice of the advantage of the taxpayers and accepted the highest offer.