§ 3. Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
asked whether it is with the assent of the Board of Trade that the British Petroleum Company, Limited, a German-owned concern, have entered into an agreement with the English branch of the Standard Oil Company of America to distribute petrol in this country for account of the American com- 8 pany upon a commission basis, being bound to sell at the same prices as the Standard Company; and what advantage there is to the British public in such arrangement?
The shares of the British Petroleum Company and of its allied companies were some months ago vested in the Public Trustee and the companies are controlled by directors nominated by the Board of Trade. The shares were previously registered in the name of the Europaishe Petroleum Company, a German company, but of whose shares the Russians, French, and Belgians claimed to own 49½ per cent. His Majesty's Government consider that it is to the national advantage that the organisation of the British Petroleum Company should be kept alive, and that it should remain permanently under British control, and they have taken steps to ensure this object. The arrangement with the Anglo-American Company was made with the knowledge of the Board of Trade, the reason being that only by such an arrangement could the British Petroleum Company preserve its valuable petrol distributing good will until such a time as the company could erect its own petrol distributing installations.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
Are these-shares to be retained or sold; if they are retained will they not be handed back to the German owners after the War?