§ Sir F. SYKES
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he has obtained an estimate of possible economies which would result from the centralising of purchases of material and tailoring services for the Government's uniformed staff, military and civil; and, if not, whether he will have the matter considered?
§ Mr. RONALD McNEILL:
The possibility of securing economies by the centralisation of the purchase of selected stores was considered by the Committee on the co-ordination of the technical services of the Navy, Army and Air Force which reported in 1923. In accordance with the recommendations of the Report, the then Government decided that in existing circumstances the complete or partial amalgamation of the common Services of the three Fighting Departments was not advisable, as no substantial economies would thereby be effected. Technical co-ordinating Committees were, however, set up, in conformity with the recommendations of the Report, to consider the standardisation of patterns and specifications, and one of the Committees, on which civil as well as service Departments were represented, dealt with patterns and specifications of clothing and material, and succeeded in reducing the number of patterns of clothes and standardising certain of the specifications.
As regards purchase, the general principle is that each Department purchases garments or clothing materials of a pattern peculiar to itself, but when one pattern is used by more than one Department, the agency system is adopted, the largest purchaser buying as a rule for all Departments using that pattern. For instance, the War Office buys caps and the various army pattern clothes used by the Royal Marines and all the garments and materials of army pattern used by the Royal Air Force. The General Post Office buys clothing and materials of standard pattern used by other civil Departments, such as the Home Office and the Office of Works. This secures that not more than one Department buys to one pattern. It is doubtful whether economy would result by one Department purchasing clothing 207W and materials used exclusively by another, but I am making further enquiry whether further economy could be secured by an extended use by the civil Departments of the agency of the General Post Office.
Inspection is similarly to a great extent centalised. The Army Inspection Branch inspects not only garments and material ordered by the Director of Army Contracts for the Army, Royal Marines, and Royal Air Force, but also garments ordered by the General Post Office and other Government Departments.