§ MR. J. W. BARCLAY (Forfarshire)
asked the Secretary of State for War, 1823 Whether his attention has been called to the following statement in the Report of the Judge Advocate General, on certain transactions connected with the inspection of leather at the Ordnance Store Department at Woolwich:—Par. 12. The duty, therefore, of the viewer is to master the meaning of the specification, to compare it with the sealed pattern and sample, and then to see whether the articles supplied by contractors are equal in all respects to those contracted for. It is obvious that to make this viewing examination efficient, the specification and the sealed pattern and sample supplied by the Department should correspond, yet, strange to say, this essential condition is not fulfilled in many instances. In many cases there was a considerable difference between both the specification and the sealed pattern, and again between the sealed pattern and the sample……In a great many cases the sealed pattern attached to the specification was a very inferior pattern of the article described, and then again it often differed from the sample supplied to the manufacturer;who was responsible for this state of matters; whether the contract business in other Departments is conducted in a similar manner; and, whether measures have been adopted to prevent the continuance of such negligence in the conduct of Government business?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. E. STANHOPE) (Lincolnshire, Horncastle)
The person responsible for the state of affairs described is primarily the Commissary General of Ordnance. It is quite impossible for me, within the limits of an answer to a Question, to describe clearly how we propose to meet the evil; but when I tell the hon. Member that we have some 1,400 specifications, patterns, and samples, he will see that the task of keeping them up to date is a heavy one. In answer to the second Question, I do not know how the contract business is conducted in all other Departments; but in the case of the Ordnance Store Department it does not seem to me that the system was at fault, but the way in which it was administered, and that is the point to which our reforms are mainly directed.
§ MR. HOWELL (Bethnal Green, N. E.)
asked, whether it was not the case that the Judge Advocate General himself condemned the system?
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
thought that, the Judge Advocate General had not condemned the system so much as the administration of it.
§ SIR WILLIAM PLOWDEN (Wolverhampton, W.)
asked, whether there was any official specially charged with the duty of seeing that the sealed patterns and specifications were identical?
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
No; but I regard the Commissary General of Ordnance at the time as being primarily responsible.