§ 6 Sir A. MARKHAM
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to a statement made by the chairman of the Shell Transport and Trading Company, that it was to the credit of the British Petroleum Company's manager that they had dismissed every German subject from their employment or from their offices; will he say, in view that the register at Somerset House shows that after the outbreak of war this company was controlled entirely by German subjects, how the company was able to take this step; and whether any facilities have been given by his Department to enable the company to get rid of its German control?
My attention has not been called to the statement referred to by my hon. Friend, but the fact of the capital of the British Petroleum Company, Limited, being registered in the names of enemies would not, of course, prevent such a step being taken by the company. No facilities have been given to enable the company to get rid of the German shareholders.
§ 62. Sir A. MARKHAM
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will say what is the position of the British Petroleum Company, the distributing agents of the Shell Transport and Trading Company; whether he is aware that the chairman of the Shell Transport and Trading Company has stated that this agency contract will expire at the end of this year and cannot legally be determined earlier; and will he say what becomes of the profits made by the British Petroleum Company arising from the sale of Shell motor spirit, seeing that this company is entirely German?
The Board of Trade Committee set up under the Trading With the Enemy Amendment Act, 2084 1916, is being asked to advise on this case. Meantime I say that the British Petroleum Company, Limited, is a company incorporated in this country and is entitled to carry on business here unless an Order is made under the Act requiring the business to be wound-up. I am aware of the position with regard to the termination of an agency contract between the company and the Shell Transport and Trading Company, Limited. The profits made by the British Petroleum Company, Limited, are paid over to the Public Trustee by reason of the shares being held by a German company. I understand that a considerable part of the shares of the German company are held by subjects of States which are Allies of this country.
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
Will my right hon. Friend bring to the notice of the Admiralty that this is a German company and point out that the profits will go to Germany after the War?
The Admiralty are fully aware of the status of this company and communications have passed between the Board of Trade and the Admiralty on the subject.
§ 61. Sir A. MARKHAM
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, seeing that paraffin imported from America is still being sold in this country at 6d. per gallon, will he say what steps, if any, he has taken to control the price of petrol, seeing that the public are being charged 2s. 6d. per gallon; whether he has any information that, owing to the feeling created in America by the trusts charging 10d. a gallon for petrol, the United States Government contemplate taking action against these monopoly companies; and will he use the powers he possesses under the Defence of the Realm Act to prevent these monopoly companies exploiting the public in this country?
The whole question of the supply of petrol in the United Kingdom is receiving the attention of the various Departments concerned, and I hope that a statement of the intentions of the Government in this matter will be made at an early date.