HC Deb 12 October 1916 vol 86 cc189-91
80. Mr. R. GWYNNE

asked the President of the Board of Trade if Messrs. Siemens Brothers, a firm of alien and enemy origin trading in this country, was allowed during the month of April last by the Commission Internationale de Eavitaillement to export copper required for a specific purpose in Portugal; and, if so, will he say why the War Trade Department at the same time refused to allow a British firm to export the same copper for the same purpose to the same municipality in Portugal, despite the fact that the application of the British firm was supported by a certificate from a British Consul in Portugal?


I regret that it has not been possible on the information given by the hon. Member to identify the case to which he refers I would suggest that he should communicate with the hon. Member for Oswestry, who will be glad, as representative of the War Trade Department, to furnish any information in his power.

92. Major HUNT

asked the President of the Board of Trade why the German gramophone manufacturing business of Carl Lindstrom in London, although ordered to be wound up on the 23rd March last, was still allowed to go on as usual and to compete with British firms and earn money for enemies up till September; and whether this business has yet been wound up?


Negotiations entered into by the Controller appointed to wind up the business of Carl Lindstrom, Limited, for the sale to British purchasers of that business, together with another business with which it is closely connected, have been delayed by difficult questions as to the method to be adopted in order to confer a satisfactory title on a purchaser. Pending the settlement of these questions, it has been desirable to continue the business under control, but the Controller will shortly be in a position "to effect a sale. Any money earned by the Controller, so far as it is not required to meet the claims of British creditors, will be paid over to the Custodian.

93. Major HUNT

asked why Herman Schumacher, a German and enemy alien, was, after being interned in the Isle of Man in June, 1915, released and allowed to continue his silk business up till now in competition with British firms; and who are the influential friends whom he claims?


The question of internment is not one for the Board of Trade. The business of the alien enemy referred to is carried on in partnership with a naturalised British subject. Inspection was made under the Trading With the Enemy Acts, and the case was subsequently considered carefully by the Board's Advisory Committee, who found that it was not within the scope of Section 1 of the Trading With the Enemy Amendment Act, 1916, under which Orders are made for the discontinuance or winding-up of a business carried on wholly or mainly for the benefit of or under the control of enemy subjects.

Major HUNT

Can the right hon. Gentleman then do nothing in this matter. Are these foreigners to be allowed to go on competing with British firms. Has he no power to stop it?


We have very wide powers, but the Advisory Committee found that these cases do not come within the Statute.


Did the right hon. Gentleman note the statement of this man that he had influential friends in high quarters. Can he say who they are?


I have heard that kind of statement in many cases. I do not know who is referred to.

94. Major HUNT

asked why the German firm of Wulfing and Company, which was ordered to be wound up in May, was allowed to go on just as usual till the middle of September; whether this firm is yet wound up; and has the same thing happened with other German firms?


The business of Wulfing and Company has been continued by the Controller appointed to wind up the business pending a sale of the assets to a British purchaser in order that the assets acquired by the purchaser should be of value to him, and that the position of farmers who had contracts with the firm should not be prejudiced. Tenders for the assets were invited by the Controller some time ago, but could not be proceeded with pending the settlement of certain difficult questions about the trade marks used in connection with the business. These having now been disposed of, the Controller is in a position to deal with the matter and is again inviting tenders, which will be dealt with immediately they are received.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say who takes the profits while this is going on? Who has the benefit of the transactions?


The answer to that question is similar to that I gave to a previous question, namely, that the profits earned during the period of control pass into the hands of the custodian.