§ MR. M. HEALY
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether the existing contract for the supply of clothing to the Royal Irish Constabulary is held by a private firm, or whether the Force is supplied from a Government clothing factory; when the existing contract was entered into, and when it will expire; whether on its expiration an opportunity will be given to Irish firms to tender for the contract; and whether it would be possible to arrange that the material for the clothing should be of Irish manufacture, assuming that equally good material could be supplied at the same price?
MR. J. MORLEY
The Inspector General informs me that all contracts for the clothing of the Constabulary are given to private firms. The existing contract was entered into on March 1, 1893, and will expire on March 31, 1895; it is held by an Irish firm. On its expiration tenders for a new contract will, as on former occasions, be invited by advertisement in the public Press, and Irish firms will be afforded an opportunity of tendering. With regard to the last paragraph of the question, I learn that some years ago Irish woollen manufacturers were invited by advertisement to inspect the standard great-coat cloth at the Constabulary Office, with a view to their proposing to supply the same; that three manufacturers responded to the advertisement, and stated that, with the exception of great-coat cloth, it would not suit their trade to undertake its manufacture. Samples of this cloth were subsequently received from two of the traders, but the results were unsatisfactory. I should be glad if it were possible to arrange for the manufacture in Ireland of the material for Constabulary uniform, or even a portion thereof, but in order to bring this about it would be necessary that the standard of quality should be maintained without increase of price.