HC Deb 18 March 1889 vol 334 cc49-50

I wish to ask the Financial Secretary to the War Office a Question of which I have given him private notice—whether he is correctly reported in the Daily News of Saturday last, under the heading "More Ministerial Bribes," to have given the details of orders to be issued under the new Naval Programme, and to have stated that more than £1,000,000 worth of stores would be ordered, including Messrs. Armstrong £360,000, Messrs. Whitworth £257,000, Messrs. Vickers £114,000?


I fear, Sir, that the Daily News has been wilfully misled. The report is wholly inaccurate. I made no allusion whatever to orders which may hereafter be given under the proposed naval expenditure. The figures which I cited were those of orders at present current, which have been given out in the past, and were a quotation from the speech delivered by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War on Thursday night, which was public property 24 hours before I spoke on Friday.


I would ask the hon. Gentleman whether he is acquainted with a paper called the Manchester Courier, and whether he acknowledges the accuracy of this report of his speech— They believed very much in stimulating private trade. In 1883–4 the Liberal Government gave to private firms orders for big guns to the value of £23,000; in 1886 such orders were given to the extent of £67,000, but in this year orders for big guns were given to Messrs. Armstrong to the extent of £381,000, to Messrs. Whitworth to the extent of £258,000, and to Messrs. Vickers, of Sheffield, to the extent of £114,000. In all, the War Office have given orders for £1,063,000 worth of warlike stores to private firms.


The right hon. Gentleman has not had the courtesy to give me notice. I have no report of the speech with me. I certainly read very cursorily the quotation which he has read, and the citation which I made was to the effect that these orders were at present current. But if the right hon. Gentleman feels that there is any difference between the two Governments in that respect it is not due to any fault of mine.