HC Deb 22 April 1937 vol 322 cc1911-2
46. Sir Cooper Rawson

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the procedure is with regard to supervision by the Treasury of the acceptance by local authorities of tenders for road or other public works; whether acceptance of the lowest tendered price is ever insisted upon by officials of the Treasury; and whether he concurs with the views expressed on behalf of the Minister of Health, in answer to a Parliamentary question on 28th July, 1936, that questions of efficiency and running cost, durability of materials and freedom from repair should be considered in addition to price?

Mr. Chamberlain

Responsibility for the administration of grants from public funds for schemes carried out by local authorities rests with the Department concerned under general conditions approved by the Treasury which vary according to the nature of the case. There is no insistence on acceptance of the lowest tender though, as was pointed out in the answer to which my hon. Friend refers, it is, other things being equal, a natural corollary of the system in use. I concur in the statement in that answer of the considerations which must be weighed and which may on occasion establish a case for passing over the lowest tender.

Mr. R. C. Morrison

Is the Minister aware that one of the difficulties of local authorities is that they are receiving a series of tenders of exactly the same figure?

61. Sir C. Rawson

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware that misconceptions continue to arise among local authorities as to the extent of their obligation to accept the lowest tendered price for public works; whether he will make it clear that durability of materials, non-skid qualities, and maintenance cost should be considered in regard to tenders for road works in addition to price; and whether his Department will give these considerations due weight also in approving contracts in connection with the trunk roads now under the control of the Ministry?

Captain Hudson

No, Sir, I am not aware that there is any general misconception of the position. When my right hon. Friend is asked to approve tenders other than the lowest, he is guided by the sort of considerations which my hon. Friend has mentioned as well as by the technical qualifications and financial standing of the contractors concerned.

Sir C. Rawson

Must we assume that, if the local authorities are not under any misconception, they have ignored the advice given by the Ministry of Transport?

Captain Hudson

We have issued a circular which sets out exactly what the position is, and I do not think they ought to be under any misconception.