§ MR. ASHLEY (Lancashire, Blackpool)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whether the cost of raising the Assouan Dam will be defrayed out of the annual revenue of Egypt.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (SIR EDWARD GREY,) Northumberland, Berwick
The cost of raising the Assouan Dam will be defrayed out of the reserve fund of the Egyptian Government formed from the surplus revenues of past years.
§ MR. BOWLES (Lambeth, Norwood)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whether the offer of Messrs. Aird to raise the Assouan Dam for £E1,037,000, which has been accepted, was the only offer received for this work; whether it was the only offer asked for; and whether any opportunity was afforded to other firms to tender for this contract.
§ SIR E. GREY
Messrs. Aird were the original constructors of the Assouan Dam, and their former experience clearly indicated them as the proper people to continue the work, which had been very well done, and at a reasonable cost. The Public Works Department made their own estimates and the terms were arranged with Messrs. Aird. I have no doubt whatever that the course adopted was the best. It was important in the interest both of economy and security that the special experience gained in constructing the dam originally should be utilised in continuing it.
§ MR. BOWLES
Is there any reason to believe that the work of raising this dam was such as particularly to require great experience? Will the right hon. Baronet consider the advisability of seeing that in future the Egyptian Government in dealing with large matters of this kind give other firms of standing a reasonable opportunity of tendering in the interest both of Egyptian finance and of the Egyptian taxpayer?
§ SIR EDWARD GREY
I understand that in the first place Messrs. Aird were not the only firm consulted. But it was known that they had special experience of this dam, and it is a matter of common knowledge that the work was of a special character, requiring special care.
§ MR. J. WARD
Was any suggestion made to the contractors that they should employ British workmen in preference to Italians in the construction of the dam?