HC Deb 02 May 1898 vol 57 cc12-3

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty if he is aware that the specifications for hair for sailors' bedding require it to be cleaned unadulterated horse mane and tail, and not mixed with pig or another sort of hair bristle, and that this material has always been obtained in sufficient quantity for the Navy of this country; and why, under such circumstances, and having regard to the comparatively small amount required in the current year, the order has been taken away from British firms and placed with an American house much identified with pig bristle, and not hitherto making the substance required by the specification?


I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty if the hair bedding for the Fleet has been ordered this year abroad; and, if so, why the contract was not placed, as usual, in Great Britain?


Very considerable difficulty was experienced last year in obtaining a sufficient supply of curled hair, and it was necessary to invite tenders on four separate occasions before the full quantity could be placed with British firms. Great inconvenience was caused owing to the late period of the year at which supplies were eventually obtained. This year tenders were accepted from three British and one American firm. One British firm was accepted for the whole quantity offered by it, another for the whole quantity offered for early delivery, and the third for two-thirds of the quantity offered. The American firm was accepted for a larger proportion, as it promised early delivery, both of the first half and the remainder of the supply, and the requirements of the Service necessitated large quantities being obtained as soon as possible. Hair not in accordance with the contract will be rejected. I shall only be too glad if the tenders of British firms on the next occasion are of such a character as to admit of the whole of the orders being placed with them.