HC Deb 19 October 1916 vol 86 cc728-9
62. Sir H. DALZIEL

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the Ellesmere Port Dyeworks, owned by Germans resident in Germany, have been leased to Messrs. Levinstein, of Manchester; whether the British Dyes, Limited, a company in which £1,000,000 sterling of British money has been invested, was given an opportunity of tendering for the works; and, if not, can he give the reason?


The Port Ellesmere Works of Messrs. Meister Lucius and Bruning have been sold, under the provisions of the Trading With the Enemy Acts, to Messrs. Levinstein, Limited. Full guarantees have been given by Messrs. Levinstein that the company shall always remain under British control.

The Board of Trade took the advice of scientific experts on the evidence submitted by Messrs. Levinstein and British Dyes, Limited, as to their respective ability to utilise the works in question for the manufacture of synthetic indigo. As it appeared from the report of the referees that, on the evidence submitted, Messrs. Levinstein were better qualified to carry on this particular manufacture by the process for which the Port Ellesmere plant was designed, the Board considered that no useful purpose would have been served by inviting competitive tenders, provided that Messrs. Levinstein were prepared to pay a price considered reasonable by the Court.


Does the right hon. Gentleman suggest that the experts advised that British Dyes, Limited, should not have an opportunity of tendering? Did they have an opportunity of tendering?


No, Sir; they did not have an opportunity of tendering, because the referees advised that Messrs. Levinstein were better qualified to carry on this operation by the process that was established at the Ellesmere Port works.


Are we to understand that the selling price to this firm was really fixed by the Government?


No; the Government had no choice in the matter. The selling price was considered reasonable by the Court, and was not fixed by the Government.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say what the price was?


I cannot say without notice.