HC Deb 10 February 1904 vol 129 cc1313-4
SIR CHAELES McLAREN (Leicestershire, Bosworth)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether he will for the future adopt the system recently put in force by the London County Council in settling contracts for rails and railway material, by giving preference in all cases in which there is no wide divergence in price, to the tenders of English makers over those of foreign makers; and whether he will allow English firms the opportunity of revising their tenders in cases where foreign firms tender at lower prices.


The practice described in the Question is that which is now in force in respect of stores for State railways in India. In cases where there is no material difference in price and where in other respects the tenders are equally satisfactory or nearly so, a preference will unquestionably be given to a British tender. Where there is a wide difference in price and the quality of supply is reckoned identical, it is impossible, in justice to the Indian taxpayer, to ignore the lower tender. Large contracts for steel and other goods are executed for the Indian Government by Sheffield firms, and I doubt whether any distress in Sheffield can be attributed, as the hon. Member suggests, to the diversion to foreign firms of Indian Government orders in a very limited number of instances. The hon. Member, no doubt, is careful to distinguish between the action of Government, which affects only the State lines, and that of the Indian railway companies, in respect of the purchase of stores.


Can the right hon. Gentleman answer the latter part of the Question.


It would be contrary to the principle on which contracts are made to allow an opportunity of revising the tenders.

In reply to a further Question by Mr. GALLOWAY (Manchester, S. W.), Mr. BRODRICK said the question of the dates of delivery was always carefully considered.