22 JULY 1905, Page 3

The Royal Commission on War Stores held its first public

sitting on Monday under the presidency of Mr. Justice Farwell. The Chairman—most properly, in our opinion— refused to permit counsel to cross-examine witnesses or to make speeches, declaring that it was "not a prosecution, but an inquiry." The first witnesses examined were Mr. Brodrick and Sir Edward Ward. Dealing with the sales to Lord Milner after peace, Mr. Brodrick said that Lord Kitchener had estimated a yield of about seven millions. He had, how- ever, largely overestimated the amount to be taken by Lord Milner, and also the price to be paid by him (which was settled by an Inter-Departmental Committee in England). On this account, therefore, there was a non-realisation of £1,467,000. Passing to the so-called "dual contract" system, Mr. Brodrick explained that the Returns necessary to keep the War Office informed on this point were not sent, and the responsibility for their absence he considered to attach to a special branch of the Finance Department, F4, though he mentioned no particular officials. On Tuesday Sir Guy Fleet- wood Wilson, Sir Frank Marzials, and Sir Alfred Major, three of the chief finanical authorities at the War Office, were examined. The general result of their evidence was that the department known as F4, which was represented by Mr. Edwards, one of the signatories to the Butler Report, could not be blamed for neglecting to see to the Returns to which Mr. Brodrick had referred, since such Returns would have given no real information. On Wednesday Mr. Flynn and Mr. Edwards, who were sent to South Africa in 1903, gave their evidence. Mr. Flynn declared that he was forbidden by his instructions to inquire into contracts at large, and both witnesses professed entire ignorance of the " dual system." This could only have appeared from an examination of current accounts, which was beyond their province. Mr. Edwards admitted that he knew of the system of local contracts, but could not have guessed that there would be any reselling. The Commission adjourned till Friday.