HC Deb 07 November 1939 vol 353 cc8-9
8. Mr. Stokes

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the three wooden-hutted camps at Cove constructed each for the accommodation of 1,000 persons have each cost not less than £400,000 and have involved the employment of from 5,000 to 7,000 men at any one time in their construction, whereas the two camps at Arborfield, of similar capacity, to the same specification, and under nearly similar conditions, have cost only £160,000 and never involved the employment of more than 962 at any one time; and whether he will cause a public inquiry to be made into the costs of construction at Cove?

10. Mr. Mander

asked the Secretary of State for War the position with regard to the Militia camp near Aldershot, estimated to cost £480,000, which has already cost £800,000 and is not finished; whether this contract is based on the old system of a percentage of the total cost; and when completion is expected?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

I have called for a full report. The contract for the camp at Cove was not placed on a cost and percentage basis, but on the basis of cost plus a fixed fee according to various ranges of expenditure. Completion is expected in December.

Brigadier-General Sir Henry Croft

If my right hon. Friend is contemplating building any further camps, will he get tenders from the local contractors who have the labour available and permit them to compete with the others in order to reduce the abnormal costs?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

I will consider that suggestion.

Mr. Mander

When the right hon. Gentleman gets the report will he be good enough to publish it, or, at any rate, to make a statement?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

I shall be only too ready to answer any question on the subject when I have the facts and the analysis.

Mr. Hicks

When the right hon. Gentleman is getting further information about this, will he take into consideration all the factors associated with the camp? Will he take into consideration the fact that when this camp was being built in August—I know, because I was personally asked to get men—there were no men available and 4,000 had to be sent from London each day at a cost of 5s. 6d. each per day, which accounts for £130,000, independent of anything else?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

In considering this matter I should be most grateful for any assistance and advice which the hon. Gentleman, with his great experience, can give me.