HC Deb 06 June 1861 vol 163 cc684-5

said, that the other night he called the attention of the House to the price paid by the Government for anchors. He then showed that the Admiralty were paying three times more than the market price for anchors, and that the contract for anchors had been for twenty years in the hands of one firm, and was not open to competition. Since then he had received a letter from a large manufacturing firm of iron chains and anchors in the north of England, stating that the Spanish Government were paying them £20 per ton for anchors less than the Government were paying, and that these anchors were to be exactly the same as the Admiralty anchors, and to be proved by the same tests. They further stated a fact of which he (Mr. Lindsay) was certainly not aware before; and this only showed the advantage that was gained by discussions in that House. It was this: that the contracts for chain cables as well as for anchors were not thrown open to public competition, but were placed in the hands of a particular firm. He hoped the noble Lord would state what were the prices that were paid by the Government for chain cables. Out of 792 anchors supplied in 1855 125 were rejected, because they would not stand proof; whereas another firm which had supplied anchors for fifteen years had only one rejected. He wanted to know how it was that that same firm which supplied the anchors had the exclusive opportunity of supplying cables also?


said, he had distinctly told his hon. Friend that the same firm supplied both the anchors and the cables. In 1841 there were two firms which contracted for chain cables and anchors as well as Mr. Lennox Brown. Those firms had since failed, and since then Mr. Brown alone had supplied them. He would now state that if any firm would make a proper offer to the Admiralty they would be prepared to consider it, both as regarded anchors and cables. The prices charged by the present contractors were occasionally revised, according to the market prices of the day, and, therefore, it was not fair to say that the Admiralty were paying at an excessive rate for their anchors and cables,