§ MR. LEA (St. Pancras, E.)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War, with reference to paragraph 5 of the Second Report of the Committee of Public Accounts, if he will furnish the names and addresses of the South African Garrison Institutes from whom the immediate re- 466 payment of the £9,294 is pressed for by the Committee, specifying the amount claimed against each, and in every case stating whether the institute concerned is used by officers, non-commissioned officers, or men.
The following Questions also appeared on the Paper in the name of the hon. Member:—
To ask the Secretary of State for War, with reference to paragraph 16 of the Second Report of the Committee of Public Accounts, whether he will in future, before concluding any contract relating to the purchase of articles on which royalties are paid, have a clause inserted providing for a graduated scale of royalty on such articles according to the number purchased, no matter whether the case may be considered important or not at the time of signing.
To ask the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been drawn to paragraph 6 of the Second Report of the Committee of Public Accounts, wherein it is stated that a sum of £4,649 is not properly chargeable against Army Votes, owing to the Army Council, without application to the Treasury, having sanctioned the issue of £4,000 to the General Officer Commanding in Scotland for the purpose of paying the fares of Volunteers attending a royal review at Edinburgh, and that a further sum of £649 was spent owing to a miscalculation of the number who would attend; if he is aware that the Director-General of Finance, as accounting officer, recorded his protest against the payment, and only passed it under direct instruction from the supreme head of the Department; and what measures does he intend adopting to prevent the Army Council again irregularly sanctioning the issue of public moneys without first having obtained the authority of the Treasury for so doing.
To ask the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been drawn to paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Second Report of the Committee of Public Accounts, wherein it is stated that the Estimate for the actual gross expenditure on the Army Votes during the year 1905–6 was Wrong by £1,326,915 8s. 6d.; whether he is aware that the 467 error, which would have been larger by £245,000 but for the additional expenditure sanctioned by the Treasury on the rearmament of the artillery, is nearly twice as large as any that has occurred in Army Votes for the last twenty years, and is considerably in excess of the surplus on the combined Votes of the Navy and Civil Services and Revenue Departments in the same year, where an expenditure of £82,000,000 was involved; and whether, having in view the fact that as regards the future the Committee are without assurance that a more satisfactory result may be expected, and that they express the hope that the responsible Minister of the day will take every means necessary to secure accuracy in estimating expenditure and forecasting liabilities, he will state what measures he intends adopting to obtain this reform in Army accounts.
To ask the Secretary of State for War with reference to paragraph 9 of the Second Report of the Committee of Public Accounts, what have been the average number of gallons of water supplied to the troops last year for each month respectively, and what are the rates under the contract entered into by the General Officer Commanding in South Africa with the municipality of Standerton in 1904, wherein the minimum rate was for 80,000 gallons per diem, and which contract is to run for twenty years from that date; what has to date been the estimated loss incurred by the public through this officer having concluded such a contract without authority; what was the name and rank of this officer; why was the War Office not notified of the fact that a contract of such a nature had been concluded until January, 1906, although the negotiations leading up to the signing of the contract lasted from November, 1903, until 29th July, 1904, thus disproving any urgency or risk of sickness to the troops; and what steps have been taken by the Secretary of State to prevent a repetition either in South Africa or elsewhere by the military authorities.
To ask the Secretary of State for War, with reference to paragraph 18 of the Second Report of the Committee of Public Accounts, whether the military authorities on realising that, owing to an exceptional drought, 468 the Vaal River for the first time on record was partially dried up, and that all the dams in the vicinity had failed, made any effort to obtain water by artesian boring on the farm they had purchased at Tempe, near Bloemfontein, before leasing the Bishop's Glen farm; and, if not, why and what was the purchase price of the farm at Tempe, its area in acres, the amount spent on it for the purposes of a remount depot before the Bishop's Glen farm was taken over, the rent paid per annum, and the length of the lease of the latter, and the total cost of the buildings, water troughs, and machinery for water supply put up by the military authorities thereon.
To ask the Secretary of State for War, with reference to paragraph 19 of the Second Report from the Committee of Public Accounts, what were the payments made both under Vote 10 and under the Military Works Loan in respect of contracts placed without competition; what was the nature of each contract; with whom was it concluded; what was the amount involved; and whether any steps have been taken by him to give effect to the hope expressed by the Committee that, having in view the irregularity of such proceedings, there will be no further instances.
To ask the Secretary of State for War, with reference to paragraph 22 of the Second Report from the Committee of Public Accounts, who were responsible for the facts therein alleged, namely, that a sum of more than £900 was spent in addition to a previous outlay of £3,000 in building a shed for the construction of an elongated balloon, that meanwhile, however, the manufacture proceeded so slowly that by the time the shed was completed other buildings had arisen in the vicinity which forbade the elongated balloon its necessary access to the upper air, the factory for that reason being removed from Aldershot to Swan Plateau at an estimated cost for removal and re-erection of £10,000; and whether any effort has been made to bring them before a court-martial for waste of public money, or in the event of civilians being involved has any suit been instituted against them for recovery.
§ MR. HALDANE
My hon. friend has put down a number of questions dealing 469 with various paragraphs of the Report of the Public Accounts Committee. As I informed the House in reply to a Question put by my hon. friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyne on the 25th instant, the Prime Minister has promised that an opportuniy will be given to the House of discussing the Report, and I must ask my hon. friend to be good enough to defer his Questions until the debate is reached.