HC Deb 11 February 1942 vol 377 cc1502-3
12. Mr. Simmonds

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he will state broadly the considerations governing the allocation of Air Ministry contracts for the construction of aerodromes at the present time?

Captain Balfour

In general, contracts are allocated after competitive tendering, the lowest tender being accepted wherever possible, having regard to the amount of work already allotted to the firm and to their technical capacity to carry out the particular work in the time required. In cases of extreme urgency, it is sometimes necessary to resort to single tender, the determining consideration in awarding the contract being mainly the proximity to the site of a suitable contractor who has available the organisation, labour and plant required to start the work at once.

Mr. Simmonds

Is my right hon. and gallant Friend aware of the very wide- spread feeling that only the largest contractors are considered for these contractors, notwithstanding that smaller contractors are available? Could he explain why it seems that these smaller men do not get a fair share of these contracts?

Captain Balfour

I am aware that that feeling has been expressed on various occasions. The matter has been gone into very fully. I can assure my hon. Friend that the systems aims at giving the small man as good a chance as the others, provided that he can deliver the goods; but it would not be appropriate to go into the whole matter now.

Mr. A. Edwards

Why is it that Messrs. Wimpey have started upon a huge contract in my constituency and not a single small man has been given a chance to tender?

Captain Balfour

If the hon. Member will send me particulars I will look into the matter.

Mr. Edwards

It is happening every day.