§ 61. Mr. KILEY
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been called to the statement issued by the directors of the British Cellulose Company, Limited, showing a loss on the year's working of £237,000; can he state the names of those who advised him to cancel mortgages and other securities which His Majesty's Government held, for money advanced, and accept in lieu thereof shares to the value of over a million sterling; is he aware that on the strength of His Majesty's Government's investment in this company members of the public applied for shares; and is he prepared to make a special inquiry into the origin and working of this company?
I have seen the statement referred to. The hon. Member is aware that the Ministers primarily responsible for the action taken by His Majesty's Government are the Minister of Munitions and myself. The answer to the last two parts of the question is in the negative. An inquiry was made into the formation and financial arrangements of the British Cellulose and Chemical Manufacturing Company^ Limited, by a Committee composed of Lord Sumner, Lord Inchcape, and Lord Colwyn. Their Report, issued in 1919, was published as Command Paper 300 of that year.
§ Mr. KILEY
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Government have the appointment of, and, as a matter of fact, appoint, two of the directors and pay them a salary? Are the Government not incurring a serious obligation in carrying on a company which is losing so much money? Will not the public, who put their money into this company on the strength of the Government's connection with it, have a distinct grievance against the Government?
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
Is it not a fact that the average investor knows that if a company is in any way subject to Government control it is bound to be carried on at a loss?
§ Mr. BOTTOMLEY
Is not the depreciation in value in this case infinitesimal as compared with the right hon. Gentleman's own loan issues?