HC Deb 08 May 1873 vol 215 cc1678-80

asked the Surveyor General of Ordnance, If he would explain to the House the discrepancy between the Return presented to the Dominion Parliament in 1871, and that recently presented to this House, the former showing the sum charged to Canada for arms, ammunition, and stores made over at or about the time of the withdrawal of the Imperial troops to be £168,808 16s. 10d., the latter representing it as £92,327 13s.d.; why cast-iron guns of an obsolete character were charged for at their contract price when manufactured twenty-seven and twenty-nine years before; if it is not a fact that for a majority of the articles sold, including many of a perishable character, the rates charged exceeded cost price (as laid down in No. 1 Balance Sheet, War Office Price List), and in many cases even the Contract or No. 2 Balance Sheet prices; and whether any inquiry has been or will be set on foot into these matters?


Sir, the hon. and gallant Gentleman's Question consists of four parts, which I will deal with seriatim. 1. The Return of 1871 presented to the Dominion Parliament is not in our possession, but I can explain the facts of the alleged discrepancy. The value of the armaments and stores originally proposed to be handed over to the Dominion Government amounted to £168,808 11s. 3d. The Dominion Government subsequently decided not to take over about 25,000 Snider arms, and a large amount of Snider ammunition. Other modifications were made in the original list, which reduced the final amount to be paid by the Dominion Government to £92,327 13s.d. 2. The great majority of the iron guns were handed over at the price of old iron; but a few guns which had never been fired, and were available for conversion, or were of the recognized patterns in the service, wore sold at the contract prices in England, without the addition of departmental charges, amounting to 15 per cent. 3. The instructions as regards the valuation of stores and the prices charged were as follows:—New stores and stores which are as good as new—cost price per Balance Sheet No. 2, Woolwich Vocabulary; used stores—reduction varying from one-third to two-thirds from cost price on Balance Sheet No. 2. The General Officer Commanding in Canada was, on the 5th of June, 1869, instructed to direct the Controller to submit to him the names of two or more officers specially selected for their competency to decide on the value of the stores to be handed over, and a copy of War Office Letter to Colonial Office, June 5, 1869, was also sent for the guidance of the General Officer Commanding, in which it is stated that such portions of the supplies as are likely to be required for the Forces of the Dominion should be offered to the Dominion on repayment of their present value, or at such moderately reduced rates as may be agreed upon by the officers of the respective Governments. 4. No inquiry as to the prices charged has been or will be made, as no complaint has been received from the Dominion Government on the subject.