HC Deb 27 March 1905 vol 143 cc1186-7
DR. MACNAMARA (Camberwell, N.)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether he is now in receipt from the Colonial Governments of the names of the contractors who supplied 1,350,816 tins of jam for South Africa, each tin containing, as described in the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General, 12 ounces of jam instead of 1 lb.; and whether he can say how it was that shortage on so large a scale passed unnoticed when the goods first passed into the hands of the War Office authorities in South Africa.


The War Department is now in possession of the names of the contractors who supplied jam to South Africa from Australia and Tasmania. But as the Question put might convey some reflection on the firms concerned, I should like to take this opportunity of making a statement on the facts of the case. None of the jam so supplied was in tins containing only twelve ounces. Part of the supply was in tins containing sixteen ounces, but the bulk was in nominals containing either fourteen ounces or twenty-eight ounces (one pound and two pound nominals). These nominals were either ordered as such or were in execution of orders for net weights. In the latter case an extra number of nominals was supplied equivalent to the deficiency. In all cases the country received the full quantity of jam paid for. When, however, the sale to which the Comptroller and Auditor-General refers took place in South Africa, the jam was sold by net weight and not by tins. Any apparent shortage is attributed to the fact that in the first place certain shrinkages had occurred through the heat and exposure to which the goods were, of necessity, subjected, and that, in the second place, the local military authorities had, under a misapprehension, treated the tins as containing full pounds of jam.