§ 6. Major PRESCOTT
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he will give the numerical strength of the Costs Investigation Department of the Board and the average monthly costs of its administration since the outbreak of War; whether this Department has reported any Government contractors to the Board of Admiralty since the outbreak of War for misrepresentation or other fraudulent conduct; and, if so, will he give the particulars of the fraudulent representation and say what action has been or is proposed to be taken by the Board with the offending contractors?
§ The average monthly cost of the staff employed since the outbreak of War is £4,478.
§ Thirteen case's of fraud or other irregularities have cither been reported to the Board or arc now under investigation by this Department. In four of these eases a prosecution was instituted, in three of them with success.
§ In the three proved cases fraudulent charges against the Admiralty were proved. Of the other nine cases three are still forming the subject of inquiry, and one or two of these may result, in legal action. In four cases overcharges have been recovered, and in the remaining two, the overcharges are under calculation. The overcharges were due generally to the charging of sums against His Majesty's ships, which related to private work or to claims for amounts in excess of those paid, and arose not through fraud, but through laxity in control or carelessness in accounting. There have been many other cases in which overcharges have been discovered owing to errors in accounting of every description.
§ The abatements obtained as the direct result of investigations made by this Department have amounted on the average to approximately £194,000 a month. In the three proved cases, two of the firms have been removed from the list of contractors; in the third case the prosecution related to the manager personally; the firm was not implicated, and was, therefore, not blacklisted. In the cases still being investigated, appropriate action will be taken when the result of the inquiry is known.