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Public Works Contracts (Crown Colonies)

Volume 148: debated on Wednesday 9 November 1921

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will arrange in future, in connection with all public works to be undertaken in the Crown Colonies and Protectorates with money raised by loan or voted for those purposes, whether guaranteed or not by the Imperial Government, that competitive tenders will be asked for; that contracts will be let on the conditions laid down in the tender, and that in the event of a contractor failing to quote on the conditions laid down negotiations will only be entered into with him on the understanding that retendering will be permitted by all those who originally competed, so that they may have an opportunity of revising their prices, possibly in a downward direction, and have an equal chance of securing the work on like terms; and that, in connection with the plant and material used in such undertaking, wherever it is possible it will be specified that the plant and materials used shall be of British design and manufacture with the view, as far as possible, of employing British labour and enterprise, thus assisting British trade and unemployment in this country?

It would not be possible to lay down any such general rule as is suggested in the first part of the question, since the decision whether any particular work shall be executed departmentally or by a con- tractor must depend on the circumstances of each case. When contracts for such works are let by the Crown Agents for the Colonies, their existing practice is in accord with the second part of the question and I have no doubt it will continue to be so. It is always stipulated that plant and materials shall be in accordance with the British standard specification, and for the reasons referred to in the last part of my hon. Friend's question, save in exceptional circumstances, tenders are not invited from firms outside the British Empire.

Does that apply to mandated territories also, and is it applicable to mandated territories of other countries as well as England?

I think not, but I would ask my hon. and gallant Friend to give me notice of that, because, as he knows, it is a technical point.