§ 57. Mr. DENVILLE
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that the Corporation of Glasgow has placed a contract for approximately 3,000,000 gallons of motor spirit with Russian Oil Products by using the tenders for such spirit lodged by the national oil companies as a negotiating instrument to allow the Russian Oil Products Company to quote exactly the same price as was originally quoted by the national companies; and whether, in view of the fact that the sanctity of sealed tenders was not respected by that arrangement, he will call for an investigation into the matter?
§ 68. Sir ADRIAN BAILLIE
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether his attention has been drawn to the contract for the supply of 3,000,000 gallons of petrol which was placed with Russian Oil Products, Limited, by the Glasgow Corporation transport department on the 1st instant, when there was an alternative offer from the British combine companies which would have meant a saving to the corporation of £4,000 on a total expenditure of £143,000; and whether, in view of the fact that the corporation's decision directly concerns 4,000 shale miners in West Lothian and 800 office workers in Glasgow and indirectly hundreds of workers in ancillary industries, he is prepared to take any steps in the interests of employment in those distressed areas?
69. Marquess of CLYDESDALE
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that the Glasgow Corporation have accepted the tender of a Russian concern for the supply of 3,000,000 gallons of petrol for use by the corporation's transport and other under takings in spite of the fact that the British national companies' original sealed tender quoted for an identical supply at 1/16th of a penny per gallon cheaper than the original tender of the Russian concern, and for a similar quantity of Scottish naphtha and petrol in the proportion of one part to two at a saving of nearly £4,000 to the corporation, and that the acceptance of the tender of the Russian concern has been made by the Glasgow Corporation on the strength of incomplete information supplied to them; and whether, in view of the fact that the placing abroad of so large a contract adversely affects Scottish workers and British industry, he is prepared to institute a full inquiry into the matter?
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Sir Godfrey Collins)
I understand that it has been resolved by the Corporation of Glasgow to place a contract generally in the terms described in the questions. Arrangements on such matters by local authorities are not subject to my control. On the information before me I do not think that the circumstances warrant my asking Parliament to take the necessary steps to enable me to institute an investigation. I am, however, making further inquiries.
§ Mr. DENVILLE
The right hon. Gentleman has said that he has no power to interfere in cases of this sort. Surely he will take into consideration that it is part and parcel of the duty of this Government to protect the work of 4,000 shale miners?
§ Sir A. BAILLIE
If the Secretary of State is unable to intervene on this occasion, I would ask him whether he will be prepared, for future guidance, to ascertain from what oilfields Russian Oil Products will fulfil their contract, and whether it is a fact that a very large proportion of this oil will come from oilfields situated in Baku and Krasnyi, oilfields which were the property of and have since been confiscated from French and English companies with whom Russian Oil Products are now apparently in successful competition?
§ Sir G. COLLINS
I have no desire not to answer any question put to me by any hon. Member. I have no power to intervene in such matters. Parliament has delegated certain functions to local authorities, and it must rest with those local authorities to interpret the mind of their electors in their own way. I have no power to intervene. Parliament has not entrusted me with such powers, on the information before me at the present moment.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that the Glasgow Town Council committed no irregularity, and will he inform the House of the region of the alternative supplies that would have to be furnished to the Glasgow Town Council?
§ Sir G. COLLINS
As I have told the House definitely, I have not all the information before me to enable me to express any opinion one way or another on the matter. I said in the closing part of my answer that I was making further inquiries on the subject.
§ Lord SCONE
Does not this action of the Socialist majority of the Glasgow Town Council show how completely indifferent the Socialist party are to the welfare of the workers, whom they are supposed to represent but in fact betray?
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
Arising from the original reply, is the Secretary of State 2130 aware that in 1933, when there was a majority of the moderate party controlling Glasgow, an order was given for one million gallons from Russia, and there was no exception taken to it?
§ Sir A. BAILLIE
In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply of the Secretary of State, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter at the first convenient opportunity on the Adjournment.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Often information is given by an hon. Member asking first, "Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of—" and the hon. Member has done that in order to give information. That is not asking a question.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
With all due respect, Mr. Speaker, I am not giving any long story, and I am not going to take that from you.