MR. T. F. RICHARDS
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether he is aware that, on 27th November, the s.s. "Helmesmen" was at Deptford waiting to convey flour to the ships "Swift-sure," "Triumph," and "Illustrious," which wore lying at Portland, and on that date there was not one pound of flour in stock; and whether, in view of the detriment to the public service of such want of attention to Admiralty orders by private contractors, he will consider the advisability of using the flour mill at Deptford to its fullest capacity to avoid this state of affairs in future.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
There has not been any failure on the part of the contractors for flour to furnish supplies promptly. The short delay in this particular instance was on the part of the Admiralty in deciding on the merits of the different samples, and the contractors commenced supplies as soon as the order was placed. The stocks of flour at the victualling yards are kept low advisedly, as it is of importance that this article should be issued in a perfectly fresh condition. There is no difficulty in obtaining ample supplies at short notice from the trade, whenever required, and it is not proposed to revert to the old system of direct Government manufacture.