Item 2 - Draft of a letter from Edwin Montagu to Sydney Buxton

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MONT II/A/4/3/2

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Draft of a letter from Edwin Montagu to Sydney Buxton

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  • 12 Dec. 1911 (Creation)

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India Office.—Refers to a long controversy which ended with a letter from the Secretary of the Advisory Committee to the India Office on the 8th, pointing out that the Committee’s reluctance to give advice limits their usefulness to contracting Departments. It is generally unsafe to rely on an agreement between masters and men in one firm, and the fact that this existed would not make it unnecessary for them to refer to the Committee for advice. On the 7th Sir Richmond Ritchie wrote to the Secretary of the Committee suggesting that, subject to any remarks by Sir George Askwith, the Secretary of State [Lord Crewe] believed that it would be unnecessary for the Committee to consider the case further. As the delay in obtaining a reply had been so long, they [the India Office] were anxious to see if the Advisory Committee could advise whether, in view of the present situation at Dowlais, they should be safe in accepting tenders from the firm. The Secretary replied conveying what amounts to a refusal of the Chairman to advise on this question, and asking if they still required an answer to the question of 23 August. Montagu was drafting a reply to the effect that he must require an answer, as he could obtain no advice from the Committee as to whether such answers could safely be dispensed with; but before he could send it Mr [J. M.] Robertson gave an answer in the House yesterday which he believes should not have been given before his own reply had been received. He understands that the Committee is aggrieved that the India Office has already permitted the firm to tender to them. He regrets this, and has reprimanded his Stores Department. The question is now likely to die, and he intends to inform Hardie that, as an arrangement has been made at Dowlais satisfactory to all parties, he has instructed that orders may again be placed with Guest, Keen, & Nettlefold at their Dowlais Works.

(This draft was made on the 11th, but the fair-copy was not sent till the following day.)

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