HC Deb 13 May 1915 vol 71 cc1813-5
66. Mr. W. THORNE

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War if he will explain why, if Mr. Frank Knowles and Mr. Raymond Wells are Government servants in receipt of salaries, and the wages of Perfect and Company's employés are paid by the Government, it should be necessary to have any transactions with Perfect and Company at all, seeing that this firm is simply these two gentlemen in their combined capacity; will he define the exact duties of Mr. Knowles and Mr. Wells, what salaries are paid to them, and whether they receive any remuneration from the Government in addition to these salaries; at what date was the form of remuneration of Mr. Knowles altered from payment by fee into payment by salary; whether Mr. Lloyd is employed by one or other of these two gentlemen or by both combined, and how he can reconcile the employment of Mr. Lloyd on other than Government work with his statement that Mr. Knowles has, since the War, devoted his whole time to the Government's work; whether Mr. Wells has had any training as a practical butcher; if so, under what firm, and how long was he in their employment; and whether, through Perfect and Company or otherwise, any persons employed by Weddel and Company, or employed on the market to sell Weddel and Company's goods by firms who are Weddel's agents, have been employed to inspect goods intended for the troops?


The answers to the various parts of the hon. Member's question, taken in order, are as follows: The firm of Messrs. Perfect and Company place at the disposal of the War Department the services of their two principals and a certain number of their employés. The whole of the employés of the firm are not engaged on Government work, and the firm continues to exist for the transaction of private business. Mr. Knowles and Mr. Wells are employed in supervising and arranging for the discharge, storage, inspection and distribution of the meat supplies for the troops. The salary paid to each of these gentlemen is 7½ guineas a day; payments are also made to Messrs. Perfect and Company on account of wages of employés and certain out-of-pocket expenses in connection with the War Department work. The alteration in the remuneration of Mr. Knowles was made as from the commencement of the War. Mr. Lloyd is not employed by either Mr. Knowles or Mr. Wells individually, but by the firm of Messrs. Perfect and Company. The fact that Mr. Knowles is employed wholly on Government work does not appear to be in any way inconsistent with the fact that Mr. Lloyd is not so employed at all. Mr. Wells, as already stated in answer to a previous question, has no training as a practical butcher, but has undergone the course of training prescribed by the Royal Sanitary Institute for meat inspectors. One of Weddel and Company's employés is now employed by Messrs. Perfect and Company to assist in Government work.


Have this firm of Perfect and Company large contracts with the War Office at the same time that its principals still hold official positions at the War Office and have inside information and influence?


It was explicitly stated in reply to a question that this company have not only no contract with the War Office, but no contract with anybody.


Is not seven and a half guineas a day rather a large sum to pay?


No, I think not, in view of the services they are rendering; they are giving their whole time.