HC Deb 11 December 1963 vol 686 cc83-4W
27. Mr. Montgomery

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that bedding contracts awarded by his Department to the workshops for the blind at Newcastle-upon-Tyne were offered at an amount less than the prime cost of the item produced; why these contracts were awarded; and if he is satisfied that the lowest tender submitted by the trade was by a firm observing the standard conditions of Government contracts for stores purchases and the conditions relating to fair wages whereby suppliers are required to pay the appropriate negotiated trade union rates.

Mr. Ramsden

The National Association of Workshops for the Blind is one of a number of non-profit making organisations which are given preference in the allocation of a fair share of suitable Government contracts at fair market prices. Under this scheme my Department has negotiated a contract with the Headquarters of the National Association for the supply of mattresses for the Army. I am not responsible for the financial operation of any particular workshop which has been given work under this contract by the Association.

I have no reason to suppose that the firm which submitted the lowest trade tender did not observe the standard conditions of Government contracts for stores purchases. Nor have I received any complaints either from workpeople in the trade or from the trade unions that commercial firms are paying less than the appropriate negotiated trade union rate of wages.

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