HC Deb 19 March 1935 vol 299 cc989-91
27. Sir W. DAVISON

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he can now state the results of his further inquiries regarding the contract placed by Glasgow Corporation with Russian Oil Products, Limited, for 3,000,000 gallons of petrol, although they had received a cheaper tender from a British firm?


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has now been able to make further inquiries into the placing of a contract by the Glasgow Corporation with Russian Oil Products for 3,000,000 gallons of petrol; whether he is satisfied that the normal sanctity of sealed tenders was not observed in this case; and what steps he proposes to take in order to ensure that public interests in Scotland are properly protected in future with regard to such matters?


The answer to the first part is in the affirmative. The tenders were received by the Town Clerk and in accordance with the usual practice were opened and initialled by the Convener of the Municipal Transport Committee, and thereafter sent to the Manager for examination and report to the Committee. On the information before me I am not satisfied that the circumstances disclose a need for limiting the discretion of local authorities in the placing of contracts. At the same time it is to be regretted that the whole contract has gone to a foreign firm.


Is it not the fact that the Russian Oil Products were given an opportunity of reducing their original tender below that of the British firms, and that the British firms were not given a similar opportunity; and does the Minister think that that is a procedure which his Department ought to look upon with satisfaction?


It is very difficult to answer such a question by way of question and answer in the House of Commons. The negotiations were numerous and varied and extended over several days, and before I could give a specific answer to the specific question I should require to have the question placed upon the Paper.


Is it not a fact—and it is a very simple question—that the Russian Oil Products were given an opportunity of reducing their tender which was in excess of the tender of British firms? Surely, that is a very simple question?


That may well be so, but at the same time the other contractors were given an opportunity, but there were long drawn out negotiations.


On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. I asked a similar question on the 7th March and received an unsatisfactory reply from the Secretary of State, and I gave notice to raise the question on the Adjournment. I am afraid that the reply is still unsatisfactory, and, as it is not a subject which may be dealt with by question and answer, I ask for your ruling as to whether I can still raise it on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity?


The hon. Member can raise the matter on the Adjournment whenever he likes.