HC Deb 04 April 1944 vol 398 cc1796-8
36. Mr. Liddall

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he can arrange to place in the Library a copy of the complaint filed in the district court of New York against the Imperial Chemical Industries and other companies on 6th January, 1944; and what action his department is taking in respect of the British company involved.

37. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the President of the Board of Trade if his attention has been directed to the complaint, filed on 6th January, 1944, involving British interests by the special assistants to the United States Attorney General in the district court of the United States of New York, to the serious charges in the complaint, the allegations made of political influence and the charges made against the I.C.I., I.G. Germany and other concerns; and if he will have a full public investigation made.

Mr. Dalton

This complaint, which alleges violations of American law, will be the subject of judicial proceedings in the United States Courts. In these circumstances it would be inappropriate, and, indeed, improper that it should form the subject of a public inquiry here. I have already arranged for a copy of this document to be placed in the Library.

Mr. Ellis Smith

In view of the serious allegations made against persons and organisations in this country, are not the Government going to take action?

Mr. Dalton

As I have already stated, the Government are considering what changes if any, in the law regarding these matters are desirable, but this particular matter is sub judice in the American courts, and it would be very improper to have a public inquiry here.

Mr. A. Bevan

Is there any reason why the British Government should not institute an inquiry, parallel with that which is proceeding in America?

Mr. Dalton

American law differs from British law. Certain acts are violations of American law but not of British law.

Mr. Bevan

The fact that a matter is before the American courts does not make it sub judice in Great Britain, and why should not the Government institute their own inquiries?

Mr. Dalton

We have for a long time been making inquiries into this matter, and are satisfied that we know all the essential facts.

Mr. Bevan

Is it not in the best interests of I.C.I. that an inquiry should go forward in this matter?

Mr. Dalton

I have no knowledge of the arrangements about the American proceedings.

Mr. Shinwell

Can we have made quite clear the reason which induced the Government not to hold an inquiry? Is it because the matter is sub judice and before the courts in America? Surely it cannot be explained because of that?

Mr. Dalton

The hon. Gentleman refers to a particular form of inquiry—a public inquiry—and that is covered by my answer. I have stated, in reply to previous questions on many occasions, that the Government and myself, as President of the Board of Trade, have been giving the closest study to this matter. We know a great deal about it, and at the right moment we will announce our policy.

Mr. R. J. Taylor

May I ask whether I.C.I. have asked the Government to have an inquiry into the matter?

Mr. Dalton

Not to my recollection.