HC Deb 06 February 1940 vol 357 cc25-6
51. Mr. A. Edwards

asked the Prime Minister whether he will issue to spending Departments directions to utilise to the fullest extent building construction and public works contraction within the area where work is being carried out, and to put an end to the monopoly at present enjoyed by a small group of contractors?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir John Simon)

I have been asked to reply. Government Departments who have building or works contracts to let have taken concerted action to try and ensure that the contracts should be spread over as wide a range of firms as is possible, consistently with the efficient and punctual execution of the work, that competent local contractors shall be given full opportunities of tendering, and that no one contractor shall be overloaded.

Mr. Edwards

Is the Minister aware that the vast majority of competent contractors in the North are complaining that under no circumstances do they get an opportunity to take on these contracts and that their places are being taken by other contractors in the South of England who seem to have a monopoly?

Sir J. Simon

There is no monopoly. In the early days of the war Departments may have tended to place contracts for goods which were very urgently required with contractors of known competence and experience, but the arrangements now in force will, I believe, lead to the best results.

Mr. Rhys Davies

In view of the many complaints from the North of England, is it not possible for Government Departments when handing out very large contracts to stipulate in such contracts that other firms shall have some part of the contract sub-let to them?

Mr. Davidson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that woof the largest building contracts in connection with ordnance in Scotland were handed over to English firms without any other firm having an opportunity of tendering? Can he assure the House that that sort of thing will be avoided in future?

Sir J. Simon

I have no knowledge of that particular case. Perhaps it would be better for the hon. Member to call the attention of the appropriate Department to it.

Mr. A. C. Reed

Will my right hon. Friend say when these new regulations came into force, because, in the South-West of England, no contractor has ever been given an opportunity in this matter?