HC Deb 10 April 1933 vol 276 cc2163-4

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware of the failure of British firms to obtain a. proportionate share of the contracts involved in the construction of the League of Nations buildings at Geneva; that the specification for the electrical installation required certain of the equipment to be the products of certain German and Swiss firms and that these firms refuse to supply this equipment to British contractors, so that it is impossible for British contractors to tender for this installation; and what steps he proposes to take in the matter?


I am aware that the contracts for the new buildings at Geneva have not been awarded to firms of different nationality on the basis of the amount annually contributed to the expenses of the League by the various countries. As regards the second part of the question, I am informed that in the allocation of contracts no discrimination has been made between firms on grounds of nationality and that nothing prejudicial to British firms has been intentionally incorporated in the specifications. As to the particular case referred to, I am prepared to make further inquiries.


Has my right hon. Friend studied the documents which I handed to his private secretary, and do not these show that the contract for the electrical installation specified certain German and Swiss goods, and, as the firms that make these goods have declined to supply them to British firms, is it not the case that British firms are thus debarred from quoting for the electrical installation?


In the last sentence of the original answer I said that in the particular case referred to I am prepared to make further inquiries.


Will it be possible to supply the names of those who have obtained the contracts?


I believe the names are available. The question has to do with the calling for competitive tenders and with a British firm that is anxious to tender.

Lieut.-Colonel ACLAND - TROYTE

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether any steps are taken to prevent contracts being given to those nations who are in arrear with their subscriptions?


I can only speak as far as my information goes from the Committee of the League of Nations. I believe there is an impartial committee on which there is a British member which deals with the whole of these matters, but I do not believe that in allocating the contracts any regard is paid to the amount contributed or not contributed to the expenses of the League by different countries.