HC Deb 14 March 1945 vol 409 cc228-9
53. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Minister of Supply on what date the new plastic polythene was perfected; whether it was sent to Duponts of U.S.A. before the U.S.A. entered the war; and whether I G. Farben, Germany, were furnished with the secrets of polythene in accordance with the pre-war arrangements.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Supply (Mr. Peat)

Small scale production of polythene began before the war, but continued improvements have since been made. I.C.I. Ltd. inform me that Duponts were furnished with research information and samples over a period before the war and were given detailed manufacturing information in November, 1941, for the purpose of erecting a plant on behalf of the United States Government. T.C.I. also inform me that they have not at any time supplied information concerning polythene to I. G. Farben.

Mr. Smith

Will the hon. Gentleman now answer the Question? Did Duponts, in accordance with their pre-war arrangements, inform I. G. Farben, of Germany, of this British invention?

Mr. Peat

Under the agreement between I.C.I. and Duponts all the information furnished by I.C.I. is to be strictly confidential, and for the use of Duponts only. This applies to information furnished on any subject, but having regard to the secrecy of polythene a letter was sent to the chairman of Duponts by Lord McGowan on 17th September, 1941, stressing the importance of keeping secret the uses for which polythene had already proved itself in this country.

Mr. Smith

May I ask whether Lord McGowan's request to the American company was carried out, and whether we can have a "Yes" or "No" to the question of whether I. G. Farben, of Germany, were informed of this British invention?

Mr. Peat

I cannot answer for Duponts. We only know that up to date there is no evidence that this material has been used by Germany.

Mr. Mack

Will it be embarrassing to the hon. Gentleman if I ask him what is polythene?

Mr. Peat

It is a production from gas, or ethylene, which is used for the purpose of covering high frequency cables, particularly for radiolocation, and has special qualities which make it better than any other form of cable covering.

Commander Sir Archibald Southby

In view of the great importance of this Question, will my hon. Friend take steps to find out whether Duponts did or did not disclose to I. G. Farben in Germany the details of this process? Will he take steps to find out?

Mr. Peat

If there is anything I can do I will certainly do it.