HC Deb 22 March 1900 vol 81 cc37-8

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that Messrs. Underwood and Sons, Limited, are also trading as Hood and Moore, Mr. Underwood, jun., being managing director, and whether the latter firm contracts for Her Majesty's Government; whether he is also aware that the firm trading under the name of Brown is identical with Underwood; and whether, seeing that Mr. Underwood, sen., is a Justice of the Peace for Brentford, he proposes to take any action in the matter.


The solicitors of Hood and Moore's Stores, Limited, inform me that a. Mr. H. T. Underwood, one of the directors of that company, is a junior partner in the firm of Underwood and Son. Hood and Moore's Stores are not on the War Office list of contractors. The solicitor of Mr. John Brown informs me that he has commenced an action against Underwood and Son, Limited, in connection with the "Manchester Port" hay. This circumstance would seem to dispose of any suggestion that Brown and Underwood are identical. A Mr. Edwin Underwood who, as late as October, 1898, held shares in Underwood and Son, Limited, is a Justice of the Peace.


Has the Department yet received the advice of the law officers of the Crown with reference to prosecutions in this case?


No, Sir, but I am expecting it to-morrow.

MR. STUART-WOBTLEY (Sheffield, Hallam)

I beg to ask the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether on 12th March, when the Return No. 94, Government Contracts, was signed, the War Office were aware that the contractors, whom in the said Return they named as J. E. Bennett and Sons, were really a limited liability company, with the registered statutory name of Under- wood and Co., Limited, or Underwood and Son, Limited.


Some days before the presentation of the return a statement reached the War Office pointing to the conclusion that there was a connection between J. E. Bennett and Sons and Underwood and Son. But there was no evidence which would have justified us in stating in a Parliamentary Paper that the two firms were in reality one and the same. The name given in the Return was, therefore, the name which was upon the War Office list. It has since appeared that Underwood and Bennett are identical, and an amended Return will be furnished.


On what date was proof obtained of the identity of Messrs. Bennett with Messrs. Underwood?


The Return was laid on the Table on the 12th, and it was not until four or five days after that date that evidence was received which would have justified the inclusion of Underwood's name.