§ 23. Mr. F. Noel-Baker
asked the Minister of Transport to whom the contract has been let for the first part of the new Langley Road.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
The Minister will be aware that one firm, which complained about the construction of the Chiswick Flyover, claims that it has been victimised since by the Minister. Will he not agree that at a time when his name is prominently displayed as part of the title of the firm undertaking a very big contract in this area—which is perhaps not altogether satisfactory—it is extremely important that it should be made abundantly clear that there is no truth whatever in these allegations—if there is no truth—and will he take steps to make certain that that is so when the contract is let?
§ Mr. Marples
Although my name is on the title of certain contractors doing the flyover, I have no interest in that firm. I am bound to say that on this viaduct we confined the tendering list to a selected list of firms considered to have the necessary experience. Therefore, every firm not on the list could say that it had been victimised. The firm to which the hon. Member referred has tendered for some jobs, the last as recently as this year. The contract for the Severn Bridge side structure was let at £1¾ million, while the firm tendered at just over £2¾ million, which is 65 per cent. higher. Its tenders have been far too high. There have been £100 million worth of tenders by public advertisement for which the firm has not considered it necessary to tender.
§ Mr. Shinwell
On a point of order. I think that you will agree that this is rather important, Mr. Speaker. The right hon. Gentleman said that although his name appeared on some sign or other associated with this firm of contractors, he had nothing to do with it. Is it not somewhat improper that the right hon. Gentleman should still allow his name to remain there?
§ Mr. Speaker
I do not think that that is a point of order. All kinds of considerations might arise, and I would not think of pronouncing about it.