HC Deb 26 March 1877 vol 233 cc489-91

asked the Secretary to the Treasury, What progress has been made in giving effect to the recommendations of the Select Committee on the mode of purchasing materials and stores for public departments, and which reported to this House in July 1874, viz.:—in respect to periodical meetings of the purchasing officers for the purpose of consultation and co-operation; that there should be an annual stock taking and a valuation made of all stocks and stores on hand, an abstract statement of which should be submitted to this House together with the Estimates; to what extent effect has been given to the recommendations in paragraph 125 of the Report in respect to the assimilation of patterns to manufactured goods current in the market, that provision should be made for either buyer or seller to have the option of arbitration in cases of dispute, and that the imposition of penalties and fines other than by buying in default should be discouraged; whether the Government are prepared to introduce a Bill for the repeal of the Contractor's Act; and, what steps have been taken by Her Majesty's Treasury to give effect to the recommendations in paragraphs 130 to 134 of the Report with respect to the Stationery Office, and to the printing and publishing of Parliamentary and other Government Papers?


Sir, in respect of periodical meetings of purchasing officers, the Treasury, in the autumn of 1874, consulted some of the principal Departments; but considerable differences of opinion on the subject were found to exist, and little progress has been made towards adopting the recommendations of the Committee. I propose, however, to resume consideration of it at an early opportunity. In the Admiralty, Post Office, and Telegraph Departments and Stationary Office there is an annual stock-taking and valuation of stores in hand. I understand this is not the case at the War Office. I will endeavour next year to add an abstract of stores and stocks in hand to these Estimates, which are compiled under the supervision of the Treasury. The recommendations of the Committee in Paragraph 125 of the Report are now very generally acted upon. The Stationery Office, however, has not adopted the suggestions with regard to arbitration and fines, but I am ready to consider whether it should not now do so. It is not at present the intention of the Government to propose legislation for the repeal of the Contractor's Act. The contingency contemplated in Paragraph 130 has not yet occurred, and the recommendation in the paragraph has, therefore, not been acted upon, nor has that in Paragraph 131. In accordance with Paragraph 132, cheap editions of the Statutes for 1875 and 1876 have been published at 5s. 3d. and 3s. 6d. respectively; but the sale has been dis- couragingly small. Paragraph 134 has been acted upon, and so as Paragraph 133 to a certain extent. I may add that considerable economies have been effected in the Stationery Department by submitting to public competition, in different forms, the largest and most important divisions of Government printing.