HC Deb 14 August 1893 vol 16 c125
MR. HANBURY (Preston)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether it is the practice of the War Office to make contracts for the supply of shells and other warlike stores with middlemen instead of with the actual manufacturers; whether his attention has been called to the action in the Queen's Bench Division, in which the British Munitions Company alleged that they had contracts with the Government to supply them with shells, and that they sub-contracted with the Simonds Steel and Iron Forging Company to supply them with 40,000 shells, and that the articles supplied would not stand the Government tests; what is the amount of the contract with the British Munitions Company; and when was the contract made?


It is the practice of the War Department to make contracts for shells and other warlike stores with the actual manufacturers whenever possible, and not with middlemen. The contract with the British Munitions Company was made in 1887 for £35,000 worth of made-up cartridges, of which the shell formed only a component part. The Department cannot, in all such composite cases, object to the contractors obtaining from other manufacturers a portion of the material required in the execution of the contract.


But the whole of the shells were practically got from another firm. Why did the Government not go direct to the manufacturers? The hon. Gentleman speaks of the contract as being of the date 1887. I think that was with a totally different firm, or is it the same firm under another name?


I am unable to answer the last part of the question without notice. I may say that the severe system of inspection was applied to the shells made by the sub-contractor as well as to all other components.