§ 24. Mr. John Grimston
asked the Minister of Health what was the landed duty paid value of hospital glassware imported for his Department from Germany; the rate of duty paid; and the saving made compared with the prices for the same ware made at home
§ 26. Sir H. Williams
asked the Minister of Health in respect of what categories of glassware his Department have had difficulty in obtaining satisfactory tenders from British manufacturers
§ 29. Mr. Keeling
asked the Minister of Health for what kinds of glassware for hospitals British manufacturers have tendered; for what kinds no tenders were received; and the approximate value of the annual requirements in each category
§ Mr. Bevan
I understand that the agreements between manufacturers and distributors of furnace-blown and pressed laboratory glass preclude manufacturers from tendering for Government bulk requirements of beakers, flasks and heavy chemical glassware. The total hospital needs are estimated at £15,000 a year, of which only one-third can be obtained under direct contracts with manufacturers. The landed duty paid value of glassware recently imported from Germany was £2,765, the rate of duty paid being 33 per cent. This purchase represents a saving varying between 10 per cent. and 30 per cent. compared with prices for the same sizes and types of British glassware.
§ Mr. Grimston
Is the Minister aware that this is a trifling saving but that, nevertheless, there is a dollar component in these purchases and that if this glassware had been purchased at home he would have saved that number of dollars?
§ Mr. Bevan
No; I think the hon. Gentleman is inaccurate in this matter. The reason why we went to Germany was because of an arrangement made between retailers and manufacturers of these articles by which retailers alone were allowed to tender, and that is the reason why this saving has been made. I have, however, now asked British manufacturers to tender again, and I hope that their conduct in future will be better than it has been in the past.
§ Mr. Keeling
Is the Minister aware that his statement, on 14th March, that retailers had been asked to tender, was wrong? They were not asked. Is he aware that, by his own showing, he was also wrong in saying that there was a large saving by buying in Germany? Is he further aware that, by buying in Germany, he went against the advice of a Government Committee which said that this laboratory glassware was a key industry which should be maintained in this country at all hazards?
§ Mr. Emrys Roberts
Will the Minister refer this arrangement between the glass 2140 manufacturers and the retailers to the Monopolies and Restrictive Practices Commission?
§ Captain Crookshank
Will the Minister drop the use of the term "percentage" and say how much money was saved?
§ Mr. Grimston
Is there not, in fact, a dollar component in these purchases, and would not the Minister have saved a number of dollars if he had bought these wares in this country?
§ Mr. Speaker
Questions Nos. 24, 26 and 29 were answered together. I was looking at the hon. Member, thinking that he might ask a supplementary question, but he did not rise.
§ Sir H. Williams
The Question was not answered at all. I asked the Minister of Health:in respect of what categories of glassware his Department have had difficulty in obtaining satisfactory tenders from British manufacturers.