HC Deb 07 March 1904 vol 131 cc277-8

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that the Prison Commissioners have again given a contract for Post Office mail bag cloth to a middleman who in former years has supplied foreign instead of home made canvas; and, if so, will he state whether any security has been taken that this year's supply shall be home made; whether he is aware that the leading canvas manufacturers in this country have storage accommodation in London and other large cities so that they can deliver even small quantities promptly if required; and, if so, will he say if the Prison Commissioners have ever proposed to make this one of the conditions for such contracts.

(Answered by Mr. Secretary Akers-Douglas.) The contract for mail bag canvas has been divided between seven competitors, the lowest tender having been accepted (in accordance with the regular practice) for each description of canvas required. The competitors, it is believed, include both manufacturers and middlemen, and it is not known to the Commissioners whether any of them have supplied foreign canvas in previous years. The form of contract is the same as in previous years, and contains no stipulation as to the source or district from which material must be obtained. There is no condition in the contract requiring "storage," but the mode of delivery is governed by Clause 3 of the general conditions of contract, i.e., "the supplies shall be delivered at the contractor's expense at such time and place as the Governors, or other officers acting on their behalf, shall from time to time direct."