HC Deb 24 July 1871 vol 208 cc165-6

asked the Surveyor General of the Ordnance, Whether his attention has been called to a Memorial addressed to the War Office by the Huddersfield Chamber of Commerce in reply to a Letter from Mr. Howell, Director of Contracts, to the Chamber, dated the 25th of May, 1871, in which Memorial it is stated that No low or medium army cloths are produced in Yorkshire without an admixture of mungo or shoddy, according to the nature of the cloth; and, further, that "a system of favouritism unquestionably prevails" in the Inspection Department whereby "the best article is not always received by the Government;" and, whether it is not the fact that there is an Assistant Adjutant General for Clothing, aided by a Colonel on the Staff (selected by the Horse Guards) as Inspector of Clothing, whose duty it is to prevent such practices; and, further, what steps, if any, have been taken to remedy such a state of things?


Sir, no letter on this subject has been addressed by the Director of Contracts to the Huddersfield Chamber of Commerce, and no Memorial, so far as I can trace, has been received at the War Office from the Huddersfield Chamber in regard to it. The words referred to by the hon. Member occur in a document sent to the War Office, in reply to an inquiry of the Director of Contracts, by a Manchester firm as representing the opinion of their Huddersfield house. Those inquiries were instituted under the following circumstances:—A clause in the specification which governs the supply of cloth to the Army expressly forbids the use of mungo, shoddy, or any other waste materials; but as it has been held that the introduction of certain small quantities of such material cannot be checked, and that an unscrupulous clothmaker may consequently hinder a good maker from obtaining a contract by quoting a lower price, the question has arisen whether or not the clause should not be struck out and the cloth taken if it is equal in every way to the pattern. This point is under consideration and will be settled before the next contracts for cloth are put out, the object of the Department being to place contracts upon such a footing as will induce manufacturers of the first class to seek the orders of Government, and to satisfy them that in all respects their goods will receive an impartial but judicious inspection. There is an Assistant Adjutant General for Clothing at the Horse Guards, and an Inspector of Clothing, who is a colonel in the Army, is employed in the clothing factory at Pimlico. A change in the Inspection Department is in contemplation.