§ *MR. GEORGE BROWN (Edinburgh, Central)
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether His Majesty's Stationery Office is in the habit of accepting tenders for papers which do not conform to its specifications; and, if so, whether he will give instructions that this practice shall be discontinued.
§ MR. AUSTIN CHAMBERLAIN
It occasionally happens that through some accident in the manufacture, or from other causes, slight inferiorities occur which do not affect the practical usefulness of the papers. In such cases the papers are sometimes accepted at an abatement from the contract price. Papers accepted under these conditions during the twelve months ending 31st January, 1902, were scarcely more than ½ per cent. of the total supplies purchased. In no other case is paper accepted which does not conform to the 1293 specification. The hon. Gentleman was good enough to send me what purported to be analyses of certain samples of papers supplied to the Stationery Office shewing considerable departures from the specifications. I have had these papers tested wherever the orders referred to could be identified, and the results of this test show that there is no foundation for the suggestion that the specifications were not complied with. I shall be happy to show the figures to the hon. Gentlemen if he cares to see them, and, at the same time, to explain to him a misunderstanding into which I think he has fallen in regard to one of the conditions of tender. Steps had already been taken by the Controller of the Stationery Office, before this notice appeared on the Paper, to remove, by a change in the wording of the phrase, any doubt as to its real meaning.