asked the First Commissioner of Works if, in view of the charges which have been made by officials of the Electrical Trades Union against the contractor carrying out the electrical installation at the Science Museum, South Kensington, of evading the specification issued by his Department by putting in faulty cables and generally carrying out the installation in an unsatisfactory manner, and seeing that an inquiry was held on the site, the result proving the correctness of the charges made and that the faulty work had been passed by the divisional engineer of His Majesty's Office of Works, notwithstanding that his attention had been called to the faulty work by the clerk of works on the job, he will make an inquiry into the whole matter and state if any additional cost has been imposed on his Department?
I do not admit the accuracy of the statements in this question. The whole matter was investigated on the spot by the chief engineer of my Department, and all the charges proved to be unfounded except one, namely, that a damaged cable had been repaired by the contractor's foreman without the knowledge of the officers of my Department. This has been put right at the contractor's expense. A small charge will have to be borne by my Department for expenses incurred by the contractor in the course of the investigation of the other charges which proved to be unfounded. I see no reason for any further inquiry into this matter.
Does the right hon. Gentleman still claim that the contractor who is carrying out this work is competent in every way, and can tender for Government contracts at the unreasonable price that is always put in? Does the right hon. Gentleman admit that, and, if he does admit it, does he still say that the work has been satisfactory in every respect?
I have answered most of that question in the answer which I have already given. As regards the competence of the contractor, judged by the standard of the work he is doing he as perfectly competent, and whenever he tenders for any work in future he will get the same consideration as any other contractor.
That is a totally different question. It is a matter of detail, and I think the hon. Member will see that if he wants an answer to it he should put it down. It is not included in the question on the Paper.