§ MASTER OF ELIBANK (Edinburgh, Midlothian)
To ask the Financial Secretary to the War Office if he will state the nature of the shipping contracts for the transport of Government stores to Gibraltar, the name of the shipping company employed, the freight charged, whether tenders are invited from various shipping companies; and whether, in view of the amount of consignment of stores to Gibraltar and Malta, the Department contemplates employing special Government vessels for this purpose.
(Answered by Mr. Pretyman.) The contract for the conveyance of Army and Navy stores to Gibraltar is in the hands of Messrs. J. Hall, Junior, and Company. It is terminable at a month's notice, and the Government reserve the right to convey stores also in His Majesty's ships, hired transports, mail packets, or vessels wholly chartered for the purpose. Competitive tenders were last obtained in 1894, when Messrs. Hall again secured the contract, the terms of which have, however, been revised from time to time to meet Government requirements. It is not usual to publish the rates paid under Government contracts unless special reasons exist for doing so. It is not considered desirable to employ special Government vessels for conveying stores to Gibraltar, as such a course would involve the collection of full cargoes, and would thus cause great practical difficulties. It would, moreover, be a very expensive course to adopt, as, owing to the small amounts of stores consigned home, the vessels would return practically empty.