§ 59. Mr. Leonard
asked the Minister of Supply whether contractors, not in possession of all the timber they require for Government contracts when national stocks are released and new prices specified, will be permitted to alter their tenders to the extent that new timber prices exceed present controlled prices?
§ Mr. H. Morrison
I assume that my hon. Friend has in mind contracts made with Government Departments before 1st July, the date on which the Control of Timber (No. 13) Order came into force. As regards such contracts which involve the use of home-grown timber, no change is made by the new Order in the maximum prices ruling before 1st July. The prices of imported plywood also remain unchanged for the time being, pending the issue of a separate Order which I propose to make at an early date. With regard to contracts involving the use of imported timber other than plywood, the new Order provides that, subject to the conditions prescribed in the Order, the maxi- 842 mum prices ruling before 1st July continue to apply to timber in respect of which before that date an order has been given and accepted in writing and a licence has been issued to acquire the timber. I am advised that the majority of existing contracts should be safeguarded by this provision. In cases, however, where a Government contractor can produce evidence that for reasons beyond his control he is not so safeguarded, he would normally be in a position, by virtue of the provisions in his contract, to submit a contractual claim for re-imbursement of the extra cost of his timber. If a contractual claim cannot be made, each case will be sympathetically considered by the Department concerned on its merits, with a view to making an ex gratia payment in excess of the contract price. As regards contracts which were still under negotiation on and after 1st July, it is, of course, open to a firm to amend its tender at any time prior to its acceptance by the Department concerned.