§ MR. THOMAS ROBINSON (Gloucester)
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he can now state when the management of the Stores Department Accounts of the Navy may be expected to be placed on such a footing so as to comply with the requirements of the Comptroller and Auditor General; whether he has observed those portions of the Auditor General's Report in which he calls attention to the unsatisfactory condition of the store accounts at the foreign yards, and especially at the Jamaica and Bermuda yards, and also of the store accounts of Her Majesty's ships and the victualling yards; and whether anything, and, if so, what, is being done to guard the taxpayers against the serious state of things disclosed in this part of the Appropriation Account 1890 and 1891 just issued, especially from such loss as that of the stores sent out to Sierra Leone in 1890, which were condemned on arrival at that place, and which cost this country the sum of £1,100 7s. 6d.?
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. FORWOOD,) (for Lord GEORGE HAMILTON) Lancashire, Ormskirk
The attention of the Admiralty has been directed to the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General on the apparent absence of proper care in accounts for naval stores at Jamaica and Bermuda, and these establishments have already been requested to furnish explanations in the matter, which it is hoped will be received before the Public Accounts Committee meet to consider the Comptroller and Auditor General's Report. In regard to the delay in examination of ships' stores, alterations in the establishment of stores, rendered necessary in the types of ships, have been a cause of delay. The increase of vessels in commission has also added to the difficulties. Steps will be taken to accelerate the completion of the examination of accounts. The victualling accounts have also been delayed from increased work, and the whole matter is now under consideration. With respect to the matter in the third paragraph, the 527 hon. Member erroneously quotes the remarks of the Comptroller and Auditor General. The stores consumed were not, as the question suggests, sent out in 1890 to Sierra Leone, and condemned on arrival there. They were articles that had been stored at Sierra Leone for various periods, and, owing to a reduction in the requirements of that station, were returned to England, and being, from the effect of the African climate, unfit for re-issue to the Fleet, were sold.