HC Deb 27 June 1905 vol 148 cc242-3

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War why did the War Office neglect to take any steps until January, 1905. to inquire into the irregularities in the sales and refunds to contractors in South Africa on which the Auditor-General first reported in February, 1904; and whether the War Office authorities, have any, and, if so, what, explanation to make of a delay which has facilitated attempts by the destruction of documents to conceal the character of these transactions, or the persons who participated in them.


The Comptroller and Auditor-General's Report of February, 1904, dealt with points, different from the irregularities to which the hon. Member refers. The paragraphs apparently alluded to are—Paragraph 82, which deals with loss on sales to the Repatriation Department—a matter totally separate from sales and refunds to contractors. Paragraph 83—Sales by Military Sales Department—which have not been alleged to have been irregular. Paragraph 84—Sales below the minimum rate at which tenders had been invited. Sales of perishable supplies had to be made, and it is no more open to the Army than to any other seller to fix what the buyer shall pay. The fact that low prices had been accepted by the local military authorities would not imply the existence of any scandal.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the paragraphs quoted the Auditor-General quotes from the Report of General Lyttelton on these very transactions? Does he propose to lay that Report on the Table?


No, Sir. I propose to submit all these Papers and other documents relating to them to the Royal Commission.