HC Deb 13 April 1926 vol 194 cc29-31W

asked the Secretary of State for Air the total annual cost of the Air Ministry headquarters contracts organisation; the estimated division of this cost as between the specialised staff dealing with the purchase of technical equipment, such as aircraft and engines, and the staff engaged on placing contracts of a more general character; what steps are taken to secure co-ordination between the Air Ministry Contracts Department on the one hand and the corresponding organisations of the Admiralty and War Office on the other; and whether he has considered the advisability of the Royal Air Force purchasing stores of common pattern through the agency of these latter organisations?


The answer to the first and second parts of the question is £32,835, divisible as under between staff dealing with technical and staff dealing with other contract work:

Technical 23,085
General 8,050

balance of £1,700 represents payment to the Admiralty for work done for the Air Ministry.

As regards the third part of the question, co-ordination between the Air Ministry Contracts Department and the Contracts Departments of the Admiralty and War Office is secured, on general questions, by means of a Contracts Co-ordinating Committee consisting of the three Directors of Contracts, and on matters of detail, by direct and frequent inter-communication between the officials of the Contracts Departments. These methods of co-ordination are supplemented by the work of five technical co-ordinating committees, to which all questions of the co-ordination of designs and patterns are referred by the Contracts Co-ordinating Committee and which act in general in consultation with that Committee. The five technical committees deal with (1) foodstuffs, (2) clothing and textiles, (3) mechanical transport, (4) general stores, (5) medical and veterinary stores. The closest possible touch is thus maintained between the three Departments in regard both to contract policy and to the adoption of common standards, patterns and designs of supplies and stores for the three Services.

As regards the last part of the question, the Royal Air Force already obtains a very large number of supplies and stores under contracts made by the other Departments, and generally Air Ministry policy is directed to agency contracts wherever appropriate and in other cases to synchronisation of tenders, utilisation of common specifications and co-operation in costing investigations.

Typical instances are the following:

Service or Articles. How supplied or purchased.
1. Food supplies at home War Office.
2. Medical supplies Joint contract with War Office.
3.—(a) Clothing of specific Navy and Army pattern. Admiralty and War Office respectively.
(b) Necessaries, i.e., underclothing, etc., etc. War Office.
4. Rifles, small-arms ammunition War Office.
5. Furniture and barrack equipment Office of Works and War Office.
6. Stationery requirements and photographic paper. Stationery Office.
7. Iron work, grates, etc., for buildings Largely drawn from War Office contracts.
8. Torpedoes and compasses Admiralty.
9. Ropes and cordage Admiralty.
10. Marine craft and spares Admiralty.
11. Carbons Joint contract of three Departments.
12. Optical glass Joint contract of three Departments.
13. Petrol and lubricant Contracts placed concurrently after joint comparison of tenders and of best allocations by Air Ministry, War Office, Admiralty, Post Office and Office of Works.
14. Accountancy investigations Use of Admiralty and War Office staffs to supplement that of Ministry.
15. Technical costings of engines, etc. Use of Joint Section located at Admiralty.