HC Deb 29 June 1915 vol 72 cc1616-7
3. Mr. FELL

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War if access is given at the Contract Department of the War Office to men who claim to be contractors and manufacturers, but who are merely runners and go-betweens seeking to earn commissions on contracts they may secure; if he will consider the possibility of dealing directly with the manufacturers if in this country, or with their duly appointed representatives if they are abroad; and if these runners and agents will be kept out of the Government offices?


It is already the established practice of the Contract Department of the War Office to deal, wherever possible, with actual manufacturers or their duly accredited representatives.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that grave dissatisfaction exists on this question, and that it is frequently stated that there have been cases where a manufacturer himself has not been able to get access to the authorities?


It is almost unavoidable that there should be some dissatisfaction with any department which has to conduct operations of the nature of those connected with the War Office. It is the established practice at the War Office always to deal with manufacturers direct wherever it is possible.


Is it not the case that manufacturers must first of all struggle to get on the list, and that after they have got on the list they have to struggle to get orders?


Where a manufacturer is able to show that there is a reasonable prospect of his being able to execute orders on terms satisfactory to us there is no difficulty.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that firms on the list have not received inquiries from the War Office, but have received inquiries from armament firms who are contractors and who make a profit out of them?


I am not aware of that. If the hon. Gentleman will bring any cases to my notice I will look into them.