HC Deb 04 December 1922 vol 159 cc1164-5
18. Mr. C. ROBERTS

asked the President of the Board of Trade for what reason the Central Import Agency, which had acted as Government agents for the disposal of dyes received from Germany under reparations, closed down; and can he state what profit and loss was made by this agency on the sale of these dyes?


asked the President of the Board of Trade for what reason the British Dyestuffs Corporation were appointed Government agents for the disposal of dyes received from Germany as reparation; why the notice of such appointment was not issued until well over a month after the appointment had been made; how long the agreement for the agency is for; what remuneration is being paid to the British Dyestuffs-Corporation for their services; and whether he is aware that the trade information they secure from this agency in the matter of consumers is being used for the benefit of their own business connected with the making of British dyes?


I will answer these questions together, and as the answer is somewhat long, will circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.


Read it.


I shall be glad to do whatever Mr. Speaker may suggest, but I think it conforms to the general convenience of the House, when a large number of questions appear on the Paper, that long answers should be circulated. As a mater of fact, the practice is always carried out by my Department of sending round the answer to the hon. Member who puts the question immediately after Question time.


On a point of Order. I put a supplementary question to the last question on the Paper, quite plainly, and it was not answered.


A Minister cannot be compelled to answer supplementary questions.

Following is the answer:

The British Dyestuffs Corporation, Limited, were appointed agents for the Board of Trade in respect of the distribution of reparation dyestuffs, as it appeared in all the circumstances a better arrangement than the existing one. The change took effect as from the 1st September, but a Press announcement was deferred until some modifications in the terms of sale of the dyestuffs could be included in it. The agreement with the Corporation is terminable at any time by three months' notice on either side. The Corporation receives a commission of 6J per cent, on the gross turnover plus a further I per cent, for guaranteeing accounts, and this commission covers all charges relating to the importation of the dyestuffs from Germany, storage in the United Kingdom, packing, etc., but the Board have agreed to make a maximum annual grant of £30,0X0 towards the cost of such charges. I am not aware of any foundation for the suggestion that any information obtained by the Corporation in the conduct of the agency is being improperly utilised. The new arrangement has met with the approval both of the Colour Users' Association and dye manufacturers other than the British Dyestuffs Corporation. With regard to the last part of the question by the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. C. Roberts), I am not in a position to make any statement, as the company carrying on the agency was paid on a commission basis, which, however, it is proposed to revise, since it is now shown that the original terms as agreed were inadequate.