HC Deb 01 March 1915 vol 70 cc566-7
108. Mr. R. GWYNNE

asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether contracts have been given since the outbreak of war to Messrs. Siemens Brothers and Company; whether he is aware that the constitution of the board is as follows: George von Chauvin, managing director, Arnold von Siemens, of Siemensstadt, Berlin, chairman, Alexander Siemens, of Caxton House, Westminster, Carl von Siemens and Wilheim von Siemens, both of Siemensstadt, Berlin, and John J. Easton, of Grange Road, Sutton, directors; and whether he will see that the contracts hitherto given to Messrs. Siemens shall be given to British firms?


The answer to the first two parts of the question is in the affirmative. The firm employs a very large staff of British employés, and has given an undertaking that no part of any payments received under War Office contracts will be transmitted to enemy shareholders. I am informed that there are no British-owned firms not already engaged on Government work who are capable of undertaking the contracts entrusted to Messrs. Siemens. In the circumstances, I do not think it would be in the public interest to dispense with this firm's services.


Is it advisable to give a contract to a firm which has so many Germans connected with it?


There is no British firm capable of doing the work, and we have employed this firm, which we believe to be a perfectly trustworthy one, and we had no choice between doing so or going without the materiel altogether.