HC Deb 15 March 1894 vol 22 cc429-31

14. £195,000, Supplementary, Additional Expenditure on Army Service.


explained that the items of this Supply Estimate wore required by a considerable increase in the numbers of the Militia beyond the anticipation formed at the beginning of the year: by the high price of forage owing to the drought of last summer; and by the settlement of the price to be paid under arbitration for the purchase of Maplin Sands.

MR. JEFFREYS (Hants, Basingstoke)

wished to know whether it was a fact that most of the forage had come from abroad, and that the hay came from Canada, although it might have been got at the same cost from Ireland?


said, that the Department had bought the hay where they could get it cheapest.


asked how much was paid for it?


replied that they bought hay where they could get it cheapest. So long as they could get it on any reasonable terms at all they procured it from England and Ireland. But there was some Canadian hay, although he thought not so much as had been supposed. In fact, he had seen rather strong comments upon the War Department for not having bought a great deal more Canadian hay. In 1891–2 the rations of forage worked out at slightly more than 1s. 1d. per day, in 1892–3 at slightly more than 1s. 3d., and in 1893–4 at over 1s. 5d.

MR. W. LONG (Liverpool, West Derby)

said, the right hon. Gentleman had told the Committee that the War Department had bought the hay where they could get it cheap, and that where they could get the English hay as cheap they bought it in this country. Did he mean that the matter was left to the contractors, or was any attempt made to ascertain that English hay could be bought in the neighbourhood as cheap as Canadian hay? because an impression prevailed in the country that discretion was largely left to the contractor.


said, the greatest care had been exercised throughout to obtain hay of the best possible quality. Every kind of hay was submitted to the severest test. Fortunately the drought of last year only affected certain localities in the country, and (hey were able to get hay of excellent quality from Ireland, Scotland, and the North of England. With regard to Irish hay, immediately it was found out that it was at a low price, contractors went over to Ireland and purchased it at a considerably enhanced price to the grower. But with regard to the Canadian hay, it came in most serviceably. The most stringent precautions had been taken throughout to get the best hay.

MR. BRODRICK (Surrey, Guildford)

said, he did not think the hon. Gentleman had quite answered the question put by the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Long), because the point which his hon. Friend put was this—that there was a danger that the contractors might have made a better price for themselves than if the Government bought locally. He would be glad if the right hon. Gentleman would tell the Committee whether they had extended the operation of buying locally.


pointed out that the Secretary for War had said that the hay was purchased in the cheapest markets, whereas his colleague had said that they had purchased the best hay. The hay purchased in the cheapest markets was not always the best hay. Canadian hay was notoriously the worst hay, and was very bad for young horses, and it was false economy to buy that kind of hay to feed young horses.


said, the statements made by his right hon. Friend and himself were perfectly reconcileable. Under exceptional circumstances they had had to deal strictly economically in obtaining the best article they could at the lowest price. The local purchases had been very large indeed, a considerable amount having been paid in the way of direct purchase.

Vote agreed to.

15. £100, Ordnance Factories (Supplementary) agreed to.

Resolutions to be reported To-morrow; Committee to sit again To-morrow.