HC Deb 19 June 1939 vol 348 cc1812-4
63 and 64. Sir John Mellor

asked the Minister of Health (1) whether in cases in which a local authority proposes, subject to his approval, to accept a tender by a local contractor, not being the lowest tender, on the ground that local labour would be employed, whereas, if the lowest tender were accepted labour would be brought from a distance, it is his practice to ignore prospective employment of local labour as justification for passing over lowest tenders;

(2) whether he will indicate the considerations upon which he declined to approve the recommendation by the joint fire committee of the Tamworth Borough Council and the Tamworth Rural District Council that a certain local tender for a new fire station should be accepted in preference to the lowest tender on the ground that, whereas the difference between the amounts of the two tenders was trivial, the local tendererwould employ more local labour than the lowest tenderer?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Mr. Bernays)

My right hon. Friend could not regard the fact that a tenderer is a local contractor who would employ local labour as of itself sufficient justification for passing over the lowest tender in his favour. The passing over of a tender on such grounds, notwithstanding that the difference in tender price is small, would militate against competitive tendering. For these reasons my right hon. Friend was unable to approve the proposal of the Tamworth Fire Joint Committee.

Sir J. Mellor

Is my hon. Friend aware that in this case the difference between the local tender and the lowest tender was only 12s. 6d., and also that in inviting tenders the Fire Joint Committee expressly reserved their right not to accept the lowest tender?

Mr. Bernays

The difference, as I said in my answer, was only a very small one, but that does not affect the principle of my right hon. Friend that the lowest tender should be accepted.

Sir J. Mellor

Will the Minister be prepared to receive a deputation from the Fire Joint Committee in regard to this matter?

Mr. Bernays

I will bring that suggestion to the attention of my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Poole

Is this not a very vital matter; not a question of 12s. 6d. but the employment of local labour as against imported labour, and is not that of sufficient importance to justify the acceptance of a tender which was so near the lowest tender?

Mr. Bernays

It is always open to a local authority in any contract to stipulate that it shall be carried out by local labour.

Sir Irving Albery

Can the hon. Member say whether the statement he has just made also applies to tenders which are invited by advertisement?

Mr. Bernays

I should like to have notice of that question.