HC Deb 20 December 1916 vol 88 cc1485-6W

asked the Secretary of State for India whether any licence has been granted to Leon Menasche, Vitali Menasche, and Gaston Menasche, trading as Leon Menasche and Company, who are alien enemies of Turkish nationality, or any person in the name of or for the benefit of such persons or firm, to trade in India and, in particular, to sell diamonds procured in the London market to purchasers in India; whether he is aware that sales amounting to between £350,000 and £400,000 have been effected by these persons recently; was permission given by the Government of India for the partners of this firm in Bombay or their agents to travel in India and also to Ceylon; what was the reason for releasing these persons from the condition imposed restricting their movements to an area of five miles from Bombay and allowing them to have unrestricted competition with British traders; and have any steps been taken to supervise the business done by these enemy aliens and to secure the payment of Income Tax on their profits?


A licence to import diamonds into India from this country was granted by the Government of India to Messrs. Leon Menasche and Company. I have no information as to their sales. Permission for restricted movements in India and to leave India to visit Ceylon was granted to two members of the firm. This was within the discretion of the Government of India, and I am not in a position to state definitely the reason for their decision. But I understand that members of the firm, though Turkish subjects, are Jews of Spanish origin and refugees from Antwerp. I am informed that their sympathies are entirely with the Allies. Apart from their nationality, I gather that nothing was known to their disadvantage in India, where, though restricted as to their place of residence, they were allowed to remain at large on parole. Their business is subject to the restrictions at present imposed in the case of dealings in diamonds. As regards the payment of Income Tax, the inquiry should be addressed to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.


asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that Leon Menasche, Vitali Menasche, and Gaston Menasche, carrying on business as Leon Menasche and Company, are alien enemies, being Turkish subjects; whether two of the partners, namely, Gaston and Vitali, were interned at Harrogate in August, 1915, for three or four months, but were subsequently released; what was the ground for such release; has any permission been given by the Department for these persons to continue trading, and, if so, under what conditions; and will he take steps to ensure that this trading shall not be permitted in competition with British firms whose business is being restricted by reason of their employés' enlistment for service with His Majesty's Forces?


The facts are substantially as stated in the first part of the question. The men were released from internment in the year 1915, on the recommendation of the Advisory Committee. As regards the remainder of the question, no permission to them to continue trading has been given by my Department. The point raised in the last paragraph of the question appears to fall within the province of the Board of Trade under the Trading With the Enemy (Amendment) Act, 1916.