§ Mr. FIELD
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether the total number of manufacturing contracts placed in Ireland for the supply of military stores was twenty-eight out of a total of 1,281; if so, whether he will explain why only a percentage of 2.18 is allotted to Irish manufacturers, in view of the fact of the capacity of Ireland to provide certain articles with economy and dispatch; and whether he can give an approximation of the amount expended on munitions and 1368W war supplies in Great Britain and Ireland, respectively, since the outbreak of hostilities?
The figures given represent a section of the more important contracts placed by the War Office during the month of March, as published in the "Board of Trade Labour Gazette"; they exclude contracts under £500 in value, and contracts for warlike stores, comsumable supplies and certain other articles. Apart from the question whether the manufacturing capacity of Ireland as compared with that of the rest of the United Kingdom is, in fact, fairly represented by the percentage 2.18, it must be observed that full opportunity for tendering was given to the Irish firms known to the Department, and that in the placing of orders due regard was necessarily had to price and the time quoted for delivery. I should be glad to receive, and to consider favourably, applications from any other suitable firms in Ireland who desire to be placed on the War Office list of contractors. The total value of contracts placed direct by the War Office with Irish firms from the beginning of the War to date is about £1,736,000; but I regret that I cannot give the corresponding figure for Great Britain.