asked the PostmasterGeneral whether he has taken any precautions to ensure that, in the purchase of material for his Department, the prices charged shall not be inflated by the operation of rings or combines; and, if so, can he state the nature of these precautions.
It has been a matter of common knowledge for some years past that pricefixing rings existed in the case of certain supplies which are in use by the Post Office. The Department has consistently taken every step open to it to ensure that prices were reasonable and has encouraged alternative sources of supply, wherever practicable. In view of the growth of the Post Office requirements, and for the better co-ordination of the Department's investigations, it was felt desirable that contracts relating to such supplies should be brought under special review, and I appointed a Standing Committee for that purpose in August, 1936. This committee is under the chairmanship of the Assistant Postmaster-General, and every contract of substance in relation to which effective competition is not forthcoming is referred to it for consideration of the terms proposed before any such contract is placed. The question whether the position of the Department in this connection can be further strengthened has been under consideration from time to time, and in July last the Assistant Postmaster-General invited certain of the manufacturing interests concerned to discuss with him further means to that end. This they willingly consented to do, and I await the results of the discussion which is about to begin.