§ MR. HANBURY (Preston)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been called to the circumstances of some grave irregularities which had existed for many years in the accounts for the coastwise freight of Army stores, and especially to the case of a contractor who charged £27 2s. 8d. for the freight from Woolwich to Tynemouth of articles valued at 15s. only, as reported by the Committee of Public Accounts; what action he intends to take to protect the Public Revenue against such practices in future; and whether it is the fact that the Treasury, having suggested the advisability of striking the name of such contractor from the War Office list of firms, it is proposed by the War Office, as stated in the Committee's Report, to merely require him as a condition of any new contract to make the repayment of this amount?
§ *MR. E. STANHOPE
There was no doubt laxity, under considerable pressure, in the supervision of the shipments coastwise when carried out in private vessels. If my hon. Friend has seen the Report he will have noticed that steps have already been taken with the object stated in his second question. As soon as the defects in the system came to my notice this branch of the Service was reorganised. In the case referred to, the payment resulted from an erroneous calculation by the clerks in the Store Department, and the contractor has offered to refund what remained to him after his payment to the captain of the ship.