COLONEL HERBERT (Monmouthshire, S.)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether Messrs. Dickeson, who were recently convicted of selling potted moat, not of the quality that nature demanded, in the canteen of Hounslow Barracks, have a monopoly for the sale of groceries and other commodities purchasable in those barracks; whether ho can state the number of similar monopolies held by this firm, and the amount paid annually in respect of each; and whether any steps are taken by the military authorities to secure for soldiers and their families, who use regimental canteens, the benefits and protection afforded by a system of co-operative trading.
§ MR. HALDANE
In barracks when any firm is the canteen tenant, that firm has the monopoly of the sale of supplies within barracks, but this monopoly does not extend to the supply of messes, of officers, sergeants or soldiers. The number of contracts held by them is not known at the War Office; the amounts paid in the form of rebate are approximately 3s. 6d. per month for each soldier and 5 per cent, on their purchases for married soldiers. As regards the last part of the Question, the choice of system is left to Commanding Officers under the supervision of the Brigade Commander. I may add that Messrs. Dickeson were not convicted of soiling potted meat unfit for human food, but of having sold potted meat containing respectively eighty grains and 129 grains of borax per lb.