§ MR. TURNER
said, he rose to ask the Secretary to the Treasury if his attention has been drawn to an advertisement in some of the London Newspapers of the 10th instant from the Commissioners of Inland Revenue, inviting tenders for 1,250 reams of paper, for Postage Envelopes of an unusually large size, and for which the said Board do not bind themselves to accept the lowest tender; whether the Government have considered and sanctioned the propriety of any of the Public Departments being at liberty to contract for the supply of Paper or Stationery, either for the public service or to be sold to the public, without reference to the cost of the article instead of the contract being made in the usual manner by the Comptroller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office with the party who may send in the lowest tender.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
in reply said, he had seen the advertisement to which the question of the hon. Gentleman referred. The matter was not one that had ever been in the Department of the Comptroller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office. All the paper used for the supply of the Public Departments had always been obtained through the Stationery Office by way of contract, the practice being to accept the lowest tender. But with regard to the Postage Envelopes, the 691 Board of Inland Revenue had been in the habit of providing the paper for the purpose of selling it to the public; and in the course of last year complaints were made to the Post Office that the paper sold was so thin and transparent that people were able to read the letters inclosed in it. Representations had likewise been made that it would be better if some diversity were adopted in the size of the envelopes. The consequence was that the Board of Inland revenue had issued advertisements inviting tenders to supply this article. The Board had not thought it expedient to bind themselves to accept the lowest tender, because the quality of the paper might not be suitable, or the securities of the person offering to contract might not be satisfactory. The Government would not be involved in any loss by this transaction, because the charge made to the public for envelopes was sufficient to cover all expense, and if the paper passed through the Stationery Office exactly the same thing would be done.