Contracts (Control of Prices).

Oral Answers to Questions — Royal Air Force. – in the House of Commons on 17th June 1935.

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Photo of Mr Robert Bernays Mr Robert Bernays , Bristol North

37.

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he is now in a position to state the results of the conversations between His Majesty's Government and the aircraft manufacturers with a view to the prevention of undue profit being made out of the expansion of the Air Force; and what steps the Government propose to take in the matter?

Photo of Mr Thomas Williams Mr Thomas Williams , Don Valley

36.

asked the Secretary of State for Air what action the Government are taking to prevent profiteering in air armaments?

Photo of Mr Philip Lloyd-Greame Mr Philip Lloyd-Greame , Hendon

There has been established in the Air Ministry a comprehensive machinery, evolved in consultation with the Treasury, covering the whole range of contracts and providing for the control of prices by technical costings and similar methods. This is, of course, being fully employed. In addition, as the House is aware, the Ministry now have the great advantage of Lord Weir's constant advice, and I hope also to have the assistance of several gentlemen whose past and present experience make them particularly qualified to advise on these commercial and financial questions.

Photo of Sir Percy Harris Sir Percy Harris , Bethnal Green South West

Has any scheme been devised for imposing penalties on firms who charge excessive profits? Is there any machinery?

Photo of Mr Philip Lloyd-Greame Mr Philip Lloyd-Greame , Hendon

The whole object is to ensure that one does not have any excessive profit. I am sure the House realise that, dealing with a very complex variety of contracts with differing circumstances in each, it is impossible to lay down hard and fast rules. What you have to do, in the interests of the public and of the industry, is to get the very best advice you possibly can.

Photo of Dr Christopher Addison Dr Christopher Addison , Swindon

Would the right hon. Gentleman provide the House with a Paper showing the instructions and powers of the officers of his Department appointed to deal with this matter?

Photo of Mr Philip Lloyd-Greame Mr Philip Lloyd-Greame , Hendon

I should like notice of that question. The contracts department functions in a way which is very familiar to the Public Accounts Committee, and I think that probably the evidence given before that committee would give the right hon. Gentleman all that he requires.

Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon South

Is it not the practice of all Government Departments at all times not to pay excessive charges without due authority?

Photo of Colonel Josiah Wedgwood Colonel Josiah Wedgwood , Newcastle-under-Lyme

Are the contracts by open tender confined to a closed list of manufacturers?

Photo of Mr Philip Lloyd-Greame Mr Philip Lloyd-Greame , Hendon

It depends entirely upon the nature of the contracts.