asked the Minister of Aircraft Production whether he can make a statement upon the practice of his Department in relation to the supervision of contracts let to private firms, and to the check exercised by his accountants or other representatives upon the costing charges of such contractors in relation to the use of materials, delivery of orders, number of men employed, and the number of hours worked; and whether he is satisfied that contractors cannot be overpaid in relation to the goods supplied, and/or services rendered, at any point during the running period of the contract?
Contract prices are in most cases fixed in the light of estimates by technical and accountant officers of the man-hours, labour costs, quantities and costs of materials and overhead expenses involved; subsequently, checks by accountants control progress payments. The small proportion of contracts paid for on a cost basis is subject to the same general supervision, and, in addition, the ascertained costs are checked by accountants employed by the Department. Progress payments are made to finance contractors on account of and within expenditure actually involved during the running period of the contract. The human element has on a very few occasions resulted in overpayment, which, in every case, it has been possible to set off against further earnings. All claims for progress payments are required to be certified by a responsible representative of the contractor, and are subject to periodical test checks by the Department's accountants.