HC Deb 30 April 1919 vol 115 cc153-4

asked the President of the Board of Trade in what way certain representatives of British chemical manufacturers, who were permitted to inspect German munition factories in the occupied area, some three months ago, were chosen; why a really representative body of British chemical manufacturers has not had an opportunity of inspecting these factories, as was done by French and American manufacturers, and is he aware of the serious handicap to British chemical industry which this delay is causing?

Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND (Department of Overseas Trade)

The Ministry of Munitions arranged to send over at intervals representatives of various British Industries. In all, four missions were to be sent in connection with the industries which have been under the control of that Department during the War. One of these was a Chemical Mission. This has already returned and reported with regard to poison gas manufacture, and has yet to furnish reports on other matters. It was felt, however, that a commission representing chemical manufacturers should also be sent, with the object of studying German chemical manufactures from a commercial point of view, and arrangements for this were undertaken by the Department of Overseas Trade.

Some delay has arisen from the fact that the military authorities stated that it was difficult to make arrangements for parties of more than six or eight at a time, while the Chemical Manufacturers' Association urged that the group of industries concerned could not be adequately represented by a party of less than twenty.

A reply has now, however, been received from the Governor of Cologne that a commission not exceeding twenty members can be received at an early date, provided that not less than seven days' notice is given. The Chemical Manufacturers' Association has been advised accordingly, and arrangements are now being made, and the military authorities are anxious to co-operate in every way in their power.


Will the hon. Gentleman arrange for labour to be adequately represented, seeing that labour is as much interested as the manufacturers?


Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will ask those directly concerned to get into communication with me on the subject.