HC Deb 04 July 1918 vol 107 cc1847-8
38. Brigadier-General CROFT

asked the Minister of Munitions why contracts for Knight's patent shell slings were given to other firms than the inventor, at a higher price than that which the inventor was compelled to accept for smaller amounts and slower rates of delivery than he undertook to supply; whether the price paid to the competitors of Mr. Knight in producing patent slings in excess of that paid to the inventor was eight times as great as the royalty now asked by the inventor, which has been refused by the Ministry, so that since August, 1916, when the slings were adopted, no royalty or compensation has been paid to the inventor; whether he will undertake that Mr. Knight, the inventor, who claims to have increased the output of shells with slings by 60 per cent. and saved the Ministry at least £20,000, shall be paid for his invention a sum at least equal to the excess contract price paid to his competitors; and whether he will supply Mr. Knight with particulars of the number and price of slings made by other contractors to enable him to judge whether the offer of the Ministry is a fair basis of compensation?

The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of MUNITIONS (Sir Laming Worthington-Evans)

The first contracts for shell slings, modified in accordance with Mr. Knight's patents, were placed in December, 1916. Mr. Knight's firm's tender was for 690,000, which was accepted for 400,000 at the tender price. One other tender for 100,000 was accepted at the same price, all other tenders then accepted being lower. Two month afterwards a further order was placed with Mr. Knight's firm without inviting tenders, and the price was negotiated at a reduction of ½d. per sling. In March, 1917, Mr. Knight's firm were again invited to tender and their tender was accepted both for quantity and price. There is, therefore, no ground for the suggestion that the firm has been compelled to accept lower prices than its competitors. As regards royalty, Mr. Knight was offered £1,000 in June, 1917, which was considered a fair percentage of the saving of £9,000 which it is estimated will result from the use of Mr. Knight's patent. This offer was made subject to reconsideration in the event of further orders being placed with firms other than Mr. Knight's firm. For some time past only comparatively trifling orders have been placed, as the use of the sling has now been almost entirely abandoned. Mr. Knight has refused this offer, and has appealed to the Treasury under Section 29 of the Patents and Designs Act, 1907, in whose hands the matter now rests.

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