British Restaurants (Local Authorities' Contracts)

Oral Answers to Questions — Food Supplies – in the House of Commons on 25th November 1942.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Sir John Mellor Sir John Mellor , Tamworth

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food why, for the purpose of establishing British Restaurants, some local authorities have been authorised to make contracts, as agents for his Ministry, on a cost plus profit basis under the terms of the draft prime cost contract, provided by the Ministry of Home Security for emergency use only?

Photo of Mr William Mabane Mr William Mabane , Huddersfield

Local authorities are responsible for any building work necessary to enable them to establish British Restaurants. Subject to the Ministry's approval of estimates of expenditure, local authorities make their own arrangements for carrying out work within the limits laid down by my Department. My Noble Friend is of opinion that it would not be desirable to deprive local authorities of freedom to enter, in suitable cases, into contracts based upon the form of prime cost contracts issued by the Ministry of Home Security. To do so would be to run the risk of delaying the opening of British Restaurants which in many instances have been a matter of great urgency, as, for example, where workers have been billeted in an area in which catering facilities were inadequate. If, however, expenditure were incurred by a local authority in excess of the amount approved as a result of excessive profit being allowed on a cost-plus basis, my Department would disallow such excess.

Photo of Sir John Mellor Sir John Mellor , Tamworth

As the local authority has no financial interest, and the supervising officer is appointed by the local authority, what adequate guarantee is there against extravagance at the expense of the taxpayer?

Photo of Mr William Mabane Mr William Mabane , Huddersfield

It is not right to say that the local authority has no interest—

Photo of Sir John Mellor Sir John Mellor , Tamworth

I said financial interest.

Photo of Mr William Mabane Mr William Mabane , Huddersfield

—or financial interest either, and there is certainly a close check by the Department on any tendency towards excessive expenditure.

Photo of Sir John Mellor Sir John Mellor , Tamworth

How can the hon. Gentleman say that the local authority has a financial interest? The ratepayers make no contribution whatever.

Photo of Mr William Mabane Mr William Mabane , Huddersfield

Certainly it has a financial interest. It has to make the restaurants pay, and it has to meet, the capital cost over a period of years.