§ 25. Sir HENRY CRAIK
asked the Prime Minister if he is prepared, in connection with any amendment of the Defence of the Realm Act, to consider the introduction of provisions to bring within the scope of 169 that Act any contractor supplying inferior articles of food or equipment to His Majesty's Forces, and any person receiving any sum by way of commission in connection with any such contract or in connection with any work done by him as inspector of food or other articles supplied or as veterinary inspector?
The hon. Member's proposal would appear to present considerable difficulties from the draftsman's point of view, as it would depend on the precise definition to be applied to the term inferior, but I should be glad to consider any suggestions he may have to make in this connection. If fraud were established the ordinary law should be sufficient to deal with it. The case of receiving a commission corruptly is covered by the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1906.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
Does the hon. Gentleman not think that the prospect of drastic and immediate action, freed from all legal complication, would prove a powerful deterrent in such matters?
§ Mr. W. THORNE
In the event of any of these contractors supplying food-stuffs to the Government being convicted, will they strike them of the contractors' list?
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
May I ask whether it is not a fact that no contractor suffered court-martial or any penalty for supplying inferior lethal weapons during the Soudan war; whether those weapons were not supposed to be made principally of lead; whether they did not twist and bend; and whether we did not lose an enormous lot of lives in consequence?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The Soudan war was a long time ago, and the Financial Secretary was not then in office.