HC Deb 31 March 1890 vol 343 cc348-9
(7.57.) MR. CREMER (Shoreditch, Haggerston)

I should like to ask the First Commissioner of Works (Mr. Plunket) a question I have already addressed to him on two or three occasions in regard to the system of supplying the Government with furniture. I think that last year the right hon. Gentleman promised that the contracts for the supply of furniture in Government offices should be thrown open instead of being left in the hands of two or three privileged firms in the Metropolis. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether that promise has been redeemed? I feel under deep obligations to the right hon. Gentleman for having kept the promise he made to me two years ago in regard to Kew Gardens. I pressed on the right hon. Gentleman, two or three years ago, the necessity of providing light refreshments to the public who frequent Kew Gardens. I am glad to say he took the hint, and has provided an admirable establishment of the kind in the gardens. I wish now to ask him who it is who provides the seats in our public gardens, and what becomes of the revenue derived from the letting of such seats?


As to the hon. Member's first question the pledge I gave last year was that the name of any respectable firm which was sent to the Office of Works should be put on the list of those invited to tender. I now repeat that pledge; some additional names have since then, I believe, been put on the list, and if the hon. Member will submit to me the names of other firms I shall be glad to add them to the list. As to the chairs in the parks the money received from letting them is regarded as extra receipts, and paid into the Exchequer.


Will the right hon. Gentleman have any objection to inserting advertisements in the ordinary newspapers for tenders for furniture contracts?


One objection is that we have found by experience that if that system be adopted tenders are received from a number of firms that we know never will be able to carry out the contract.


I should like to impress on the right hon. Gentleman the fact that he ought to advertise for tenders of this sort. It is well-known that the system of asking tenders from certain firms does not enable you to get fair tenders. I know, in connection with my own business, that very often arrangements are made between the various parties, and the tenders are sent in accordingly. A few years ago it could be told with almost dead certainty who were to get certain tenders, simply because an arrangement was made between the people on the list. Until you get independent persons to tender in the ordinary way you cannot get a fair system of tenders.

Question put, and agreed to.