HC Deb 24 October 1939 vol 352 cc1219-20W
Sir G. Jones

asked the Minister of Supply whether he is aware that a large number of smaller firms are unable to obtain contracts for the supply of clothing for His Majesty's Army; and whether he will give instructions for this state of affairs to be altered so that his Department may have the benefit of competitive prices and thereby prevent the possible formation of a ring and ensure more speedy production?

Colonel Llewellin

Applications from firms who wish to be placed on the Ministry's lists of clothing contractors are considered on their merits, and a large number of smaller firms have received orders. Although, however, about 500 firms are at present employed in the pro- duction of uniform clothing ordered by the Ministry, as compared with six or seven firms employed in normal times, the productive capacity of the making-up trade at the disposal of the Ministry is greater than can be employed.

As regards the second part of the question, my right hon. Friend is satisfied that there is already a sufficiently wide range of competition amongst tenderers to ensure competitive prices and preclude the formation of any ring.

Mr. Windsor

asked the Minister of Supply whether he is aware of the shortage of greatcoats among troops in the Hull district; and why a certain Hull firm, long experienced in executing municipal, police and territorial uniform contracts, and capable of supplying soldiers' greatcoats at short notice, has, on four occasions, had its applications for Army clothing work rejected by his Department?

Colonel Llewellin

The temporary shortage of greatcoats is due not to lack of making-up capacity but to the fact that until comparatively recently the cloth was not coming in at the required rate. The position has greatly improved during the last few weeks, and it is hoped that an adequate supply of greatcoats will be available next month.

With regard to the second part of the question, my right hon. Friend is having inquiries made and will communicate with the hon. Member.