§ MR. J. GRETTON (Derbyshire, S.)
I beg to ask the Financial Secretary to the War Office if his attention has been called to the fact that Sir William Anderson, Director General of Ordnance Factories, has since 1893 continued to be a shareholder in the firm of Easton, Anderson, and Goolden, of Erith, and that his name appears as such in the register of the Company for November last; whether such a holding is in accordance with the regulations of the Service and with the declarations made by the representatives of the War Office in the present and the late Governments; is he aware that the Company has supplied a considerable amount of machinery and material to the Woolwich factories, with and without open tender, including much of the cordite machinery for the War Department; and, will he inquire as to the statements in the public notices that the recent reconstruction of the Company involves intimate arrangements with the French Schneider-Canot Company of Havre and Creusot?
My attention had not been called to the matter until the Question was put upon the Paper. It appears that the Director General became again possessed of some shares in the Company referred to, as an administrator to the estate of a late relative. The greater part of these shares he transferred at once, but, owing apparently to a misunderstanding between him and his solicitors, the residue remained in his name. These also have now been transferred. He had no substantial interest in them, nor has he derived any profit from them. As he has no real connection with the Company, I have not thought it necessary to inquire as to its arrangements with foreign firms. The business done by the War Office with the Company in 1896 611 amounted in value to £4,589. In 1897 it amounted to £1,174. Of the former sum £4,002 was obtained by competition and £587 without competition, the latter mainly representing repairs. In 1897 the proportion obtained by competition was £1,111, and without competition £63.