November 6, 1945 (20th Parliament, 1st Session)


Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. H. C. GREEN (Vancouver South):

Mr. Speaker, before this resolution carries I should like to make a suggestion to the Minister of Munitions and Supply (Mr. Howe).

I suggest that either later to-day or within the next day or two he give a statement on government policy with respect to the disposal of surplus war assets. The members will notice that this resolution for the first time gives the committee power "to examine the expenditures defrayed for other services directly connected with the war, including the disposal of surplus war assets." I should not be surprised if that subject became the main job of this committee, to consider the disposal of surplus war assets. It would be helpful if we could have from the government a general statement of policy on that subject.
Within the past ten days it has become very important in my province of British Columbia because of the sale of thirteen Fairmile boats. There has been some mention of their sale during the discussion of the war estimates. Boats were sold for $3,000 which cost at least $145,000 or $150,000, and some people say they cost up to $200,000. They were sold without any tenders being called, there were no competitive bids. Apparently the sale was arranged here in the east, not by the representatives of the Department of Munitions and Supply in British Columbia, and rightly or wrongly there is great dissatisfaction over that sale. It has been most unfortunate to have the question raised during a victory loan campaign. But there it is, and I think it is serious enough to call for a statement of policy from the government.
It would seem that government policy on the disposal of surplus war assets changes a bit from week to week; in any event we should know what the policy is with regard to calling for tenders, with regard to having sales by auction, with regard to selling direct to buyers rather than to dealers for resale by them to buyers, and with regard to priority to veterans who want to purchase some of these articles that are being disposed of; also as to how prices are set in such cases as the sale of these Fairmile boats.
I do suggest to the minister that it would be very helpful if he would make a statement of government policy on the disposal of these surplus war assets. If he does not do that now, it leaves the whole matter to the committee. The committee will not make a report to this house for a matter of weeks, and in the meantime government policy on this particular question is being discredited. I would ask the minister to let us know what he is prepared to do along the lines I suggest.

Full View