MR. POWELL-WILLIAMS (Birmingham, S.)
asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether an order for 150,000 bayonets has recently been placed with Messrs. Wilkinson and Co.; if so, whether that firm have hitherto had any experience in the manufacture of such weapons; whether the time for the delivery of the first instalment of the contract extends into the early part of next year; whether other competing firms were prepared to deliver such instalment at a much earlier date; and, whether a lower tender than that of Messrs. Wilkinson was not received? the hon. Member added another Question—Whether these bayonets would fit the new weapon which it was understood was about to be issued?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. E. STANHOPE) (Lincolnshire, Horncastle)
An order for sword bayonets has recently been placed with Messrs. Wilkinson, the well - known sword makers; but they have not previously made sword bayonets of this pattern. 1353 The time for delivery of the first instalment does extend into next year. Offers were made to deliver at an earlier date and at lower prices; but only one came from an English firm, which has had no experience of sword-making. Others came from German firms; but I decided that preference ought to be given to British manufacturers. With regard to whether these bayonets will fit the new rifle, which I hope will soon be decided upon, in any case all these bayonets will be required for the rifles we have at present.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Messrs. Wilkinson are not themselves manufacturers cither of bayonets or swords?
§ MR. PULESTON
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman had yet received any Report as to the merits of the Lee and Lee Burton rifles, part of which had been published in The Times?
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
said, that he had received the Report, but had not yet had time fully to consider it.