HC Deb 08 May 1940 vol 360 cc1221-2
45. Mr. Neil Maclean

asked the Prime Minister whether he will move to appoint a Select Committee to investigate the number and value of the various contracts given to Messrs. Wimpey and Com- pany, Limited, by Government Departments since the outbreak of war, and for which no other contractor has been asked to submit a competitive tender?

The Prime Minister (Mr. Chamberlain)

No, Sir. As stated by my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury in answer to the hon. Member for Maryhill (Mr. Davidson) on 9th April, it is not considered to be in the national interest to disclose the number and value of contracts placed with individual contractors, but I may add that the figure mentioned on that occasion by the hon. Member for Maryhill as being quoted commonly in Scotland has so little relation to the truth as to be utterly fantastic.

Mr. Maclean

The Question I am asking is the one on the Order Paper and not about any reply given to a Question several weeks ago. I am asking whether a committee of inquiry can be set up to which the real figures of these contracts can be given. I am not asking what the hon. Member for Maryhill asked, or that the figure should be given across the Floor of the House. Owing to the grave dissatisfaction which exists amongst contractors in Scotland at this firm getting contracts as described in the Question, will the Prime Minister consider establishing a committee of inquiry to find out why this has been done?

The Prime Minister

I know that that was the Question which the hon. Gentleman put and my answer was: No, Sir. I thought that it was desirable to add the information which I gave, because it seemed to me that there might be some genuine and complete misunderstanding on the subject. I may remind the hon. Gentleman that there is already a Select Committee on Expenditure, and I see no reason why this matter should not be discussed by them.

Mr. Maclean

Is it not the case that it was because of the figures given by the hon. Member for Maryhill that the decision was made not to set up a committee? Will he consider the question in the light of the new statement which I have made?