HC Deb 17 July 1923 vol 166 cc2045-7
63. Mr. MOSLEY

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether in view of the fact that during the War the leakage of information contained in confidential documents and secret codes printed by private firms was so serious that it was found necessary to establish a Government printing works to undertake this work, he will say whether this step has been found effective in preventing such leakage?


The answer is in the negative. So far as I am aware, there has been no leakage of information from the Government printing works.

64. Mr. MOSLEY

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he will state the financial result of the working of the Stationery Office Press at Harrow during each of the three experimental years ending June, 1923?


15th June, 1920, to 31st March, 1921:

  • Loss—£32,839 11s. 11d.
1921 to 1922:
  • Loss—£21,093 0s. 7d.
1922 to 1923:
  • Profit (subject to audit)—£49,806 12s. 8d.
1st April to 30th June, 1923:
  • Profit (estimated minimum)—£10,000.

65. Mr. MOSLEY

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that, in connection with the printing of matter relating to the Representation of the People Act of 1918, the State Printing Works at Hare Street tendered for a part of the work at prices similar to those tendered by private printing firms who had undertaken the remainder of the work, when it was found, in the Costing Department of the State Printing Works, that these prices gave a net profit of considerably over 50 per cent., and that, as a result of this discovery, the Stationery Office cancelled all contracts and obtained new contracts at a lower and more reasonable price; and what was the estimated saving to the State as the result of the substituted contracts?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. The actual percentage of profit was 65⅔. With regard to the second part of the question, a saving of £227,000 resulted from the more advantageous tenders secured by the Stationery Office the second time the contracts were put out.


Was not this economy effected during the year in which the Government works suffered a loss of £21,000?


Was not the point of my question that when the State Printing Works examined the prices tendered by other firms in their Costing Department, it was found that the ring against the Government were making a profit of 65 per cent.?


My answer was that the profit was found to be 65 per cent.


Were not the contracts of 1918 made at a time when the labour market was in a very bad condition, all the able-bodied men being in the Army, and 18 months later was not more labour available?


I have only given the actual facts in my reply. As to the causes, I shall be glad if I am not called upon to give an answer, as there is a Treasury Committee—including several Members of this House—sitting on the question, and it will inquire as to the success or otherwise of the enterprise.


Were not the Government Departments the only people who could get paper at that time except at exorbitant prices?


That in no way accounts for the fact that private firms made a profit of 65 per cent.