§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
I beg to ask the First Commissioner of Works whether his attention has been called to the fact that the plastering work of the new Birmingham Post Office has been sub-let to a man of the name of Welling; whether information had been submitted to the Office of Works of the very extensive system of adulteration of the materials used that has taken place; whether the Board of Works acknowledged by letter, dated 10th September, 1890, that the statements made in regard to the adulteration were substantially correct, and whether, in spite of this condemnation, Welling has been allowed to continue to work and to commence the front block; whether he is aware that the Clerk of the Works has given orders that no plasterer was to be employed on the job who had worked there previous to the 702 complaint made of the adulteration of the materials; and whether he will inquire into the circumstances of the case?
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (Mr. PLUNKET, Dublin University)
The plastering work at the new Birmingham Post Office was sub-let to Mr. Welling by the contractor, with the consent of the Board. In July last the attention of the Clerk of Works was called to the fact that the work in certain places, but by no means generally, was not being done in accordance with the specification, the cement being mixed with putty. The circumstances were fully investigated by the Board's Surveyor (the architect of the building), and he considered that it was not proved that Mr. Welling was aware of the adulteration. There is no doubt that there was a strong local feeling against Mr. Welling, and being unable to determine on what side the fault lay, the Board did not feel justified in inflicting on him the heavy loss that would have been entailed on him by the withdrawal of the work from him in the middle of his contract. The job, on the whole, has been very well done, and the defects referred to were promptly remedied by Mr. Welling. In view of the strong feeling that has been excited by the case, the Clerk of Works has objected to the continued employment of the men who were shown to have taken part in the adulteration, but not of others. The case has already been very fully investigated, and further inquiry seems unnecessary.