19 DECEMBER 1896, Page 2

The first sitting of the Committee to inquire into the

London County Council Works Department at which evidence was heard took place on Wednesday. Mr. Binnie, the chief engineer of the Council, was the first witness, and gave some most valuable testimony. The quality of the work turned out by the Works Department was quite equal to that of the contractors, and might even excel that of contractors if conducted on proper lines. His impression was that the Department had worked more cheaply than the- contractors by some 10 per cent. After pointing out the utter absurdity of calling work done below estimate a profit, and work above estimate a loss—if that were true, the Council might make millions of profit every year by the simple process of over-estimating—he gave some curious. examples of work done by the Department actually costing- a great deal less than the lowest contractor's tender. Asked as to suggestions for improving the methods of conducting business, Mr. Binnie spoke strongly as to the absurdity of so numerous a body as the Works Committee managing matters of commercial importance. "I cannot conceive any contractor carrying on his business by means of fifteen gentlemen, none of whom are compelled to attend." As a matter of fact, the Works Com- mittee consists of twenty-three members.