HC Deb 15 May 1918 vol 106 cc406-7

I now want to say a few words about dyes. It is well known to the House that the manufacture of synthetic dyes, which is the most important of what are known as key or "pivotal" industries, was prior to the outbreak of the War largely controlled by our present enemies. It will be remembered that shortly after the outbreak of war the Government took steps to secure the establishment on a permanent basis of the manufacture of dyes in this country. I think I am right in saying that the first measure that was taken was the grant of financial assistance to a company which was formed called British Dyes, Limited. This company was formed almost entirely by users of dye materials. This undertaking has made very considerable progress, but its activities in securing the objects for which it was formed have been affected by the War. The need of the Ministry of Munitions for explosives has, I think, restricted the activities of this undertaking in the direction of developing their resources for the manufacture of dyes, for which they were primarily intended. Nevertheless, they have made very considerable progress, and I think this may be said with equal truth with respect to other dye undertakings in this country, particularly one which has made a very considerable advance indeed. But I think it is still true to say, on the whole, that the progress has not been as rapid as was expected.

We have for some considerable time been actively engaged in dealing with this problem. We have had frequent consultations with representative manufacturers and representative users. We have appointed a Dye Commissioner, Sir Evan Jones, who gives practically the whole of his time to this very important department. I think it would be true to say that the progress made has been more in 'the direction of producing what is known as the commoner kinds of dye rather than making advances in the direction of the more complicated range of dyes which were produced in such large numbers in Germany before the War. There is obviously a considerably smaller demand for the more intricate colours than for the commoner kinds, and it is only natural that dye manufacturers should have given more of their time and used their, facilities more in the direction of producing the commoner kinds, for which there is a considerably greater commercial demand, than for those which require more intricate research. Because of our anxiety that this essential industry should be kept free from any possibility of control from any foreign source after the War, and so that it may become as rapidly as possible self-supporting in this country, we have indicated to the dye manufacturers certain proposals which we are willing to agree to with them In the first place, we are proposing that where a manufacturer of dyes will undertake the manufacture of special dyes, and where he is not in a position to secure the necessary money to provide for extensions to building and plant, to make a loan at a fixed rate of interest, in no case being less than 5 per cent.