HC Deb 19 October 1916 vol 86 cc729-30
63. Sir H. DALZIEL

asked the President of the Board of Trade if the Advisory Committee appointed by him to advise on carrying out the powers of the Trading With the Enemy (Amendment) Act, 1916, have recommended that in the case of the New Polyphon Supply Company, Limited, of Newman Street, W., and of Glasgow, factors of gramophone records, in which over 80 per cent. of the subscribed capital is held by alien enemies residing in this country and in Germany, the business should not be wound up, but that the enemy holding should be vested in the Public Trustee as custodian for the British-born children of the two German directors, Herzog and Ficker, now interned at the Alexandra Palace; if so, what were the considerations that prompted the Committee to take this ease out of the usual category, where if a firm under review by the Board of Trade has more than 50 per cent. of its capital held by alien enemies the Board of Trade can either wind up the business or eliminate the enemy holding by sale to natural-born British subjects, and treat the firm in this preferential manner; if the supervisor appointed by the Board of Trade recommended that the business should be wound up; and, if so, why was his advice ignored; and it there is any guarantee that after the War the Germans Herzog and Ficker will not return to manage the business and be in a position to allot themselves sufficiently large salaries to compensate them for the transference of their shares to the Public Trustee?


The New Polyphon Supply Company, Limited, has dealt mainly with British-made goods, and the Advisory Committee, after hearing the representatives of British firms with whose productions the company had been supplied, came to the conclusion that the business is one which it is desirable to continue in British hands and recommended that the case should be dealt with by vesting the shares held by enemy subjects in the custodian for the purpose of sale to British subjects. The Committee informed the Board of Trade of a proposal which had been made on the hearing of the case for dealing with the shares of the German directors in the manner indicated in the hon. Gentleman's question, but the Board decided not to accept that proposal, and the shares will be sold in the usual way.