§ MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether the Government would consider the advisability of appointing a small Parliamentary Committee to examine and report upon the alleged cases of fraud in 317 connection with Army and Navy contracts.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
In ordinary circumstances I should be reluctant to grant an inquiry which would throw a considerable additional burden on a hardly-pressed office. But a most erroneous idea has gained currency that there are facts to conceal, and that there has been a desire to conceal them. We therefore think, in justice to the War Department, that an inquiry is desirable. The possibility of instituting criminal proceedings against certain defaulting contractors is under consideration, and no inquiry can, of course, take place until this question is determined; but I do not imagine that that will involve any long or serious delay.
§ MR. JOHN BURNS (Battersea)
Pending the appointment of the Committee, will the right hon. Gentleman issue a proclamation offering soldiers protection in the event of their being willing to give evidence before the Committee?
§ [No answer was given.]