16. Mr. S. SAMUEL
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will give the names of the principal oil companies and where situated; whether he will state which of the companies are financed or controlled from Germany and/or Austria; whether he is aware that many of the large producing companies of the world have been developed by British enterprise, and that any single one of the large British-producing companies so developed is greater than the whole of the petroleum-producing companies controlled by Germany combined; and whether he will appoint an independent Committee of the House of Commons to investigate the whole subject?
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
The hon. Gentleman's question is put down in consequence of the suggestion made to him by me in the course of the Debate on the 23rd December last. With regard to the first two paragraphs of his question, two of the largest companies controlled from Berlin which I had in mind were the 1080 Steura Romana and the Deutsche Petroleum Aktien Gesellschaft. These two companies between them control a large number of subsidiary companies. Another company also controlled from Berlin, called the Europäische Petroleum Union, in its turn controls a further large number of subsidiary companies, of which three are operating in this country and are now under supervision. The three companies in question are the British Petroleum Company, Limited, the Home Light Oil Company, Limited, and the Petroleum Steamship Company, Limited.
With regard to the third paragraph of his question, it is certainly the case that British enterprise has developed several of the large oil-fields of the world, but the control of some of the fields so developed has since passed into foreign hands. I do not, however, know of any single producing company so developed by British enterprise which can be said to be greater than the whole of the petroleum-producing companies controlled by-Germany combined. With regard to the fourth paragraph, I do not think that there is any necessity for the appointment of a Committee by the House of Commons, or that any useful purpose would be served thereby.
The President of the Board of Trade said this question was of vital importance to the mercantile marine and the naval service of this country, and that it would be in the interests of the country that an impartial inquiry should be made, so that we may know exactly the companies under control of the British Empire—