§ Mr. LANSBURY
asked the Secretary of State for Air whether his attention has been called to the statements, under the heading Irregular procedure in placing a contract, on page 7 of the Comptroller and Auditor-General's Report on the Air Services Appropriation Account, with regard to a contract placed by the Air Ministry for a supply of 100 tons of ferro-silicon, which was shipped to Egypt; whether he has considered the details set forth in that Report as to certain unsatisfactory features of the transaction; what disciplinary action 1860W has been taken against the officials responsible for this transaction; whether anyone has been surcharged; whether any regulations or other measures are being taken to prevent the fighting services purchasing large quantities of goods without first inviting competitive tenders; will he tell the House what official at the Air Ministry is responsible to the. Treasury for seeing that public money is expended in a lawful and economical manner; is it usual to pay money in advance for goods which have not been inspected or delivered; and will he inform the House of the name and address of the firm from whom the ferro-silicon was purchased, and the name of the official or officials who conducted the negotiations for the purchase and finally decided the suggested bargain should be accepted by the Department?
§ Sir S. HOARE
The hon. Member is, I think, under some misapprehension as to the actual facts of this case. There has been no loss of public money, the contractor having refunded the value of the material lost in transit. The suggestion in the Report, as I read it, is merely one of errors in procedure or in judgment. Thee matters will be considered by the Public Accounts Committee in the course of the Session, and I should anticipate that they will find that the errors, if any, were not of a very serious character, but I suggest the hon. Member should await their Report.