HC Deb 25 October 1916 vol 86 cc1147-8W
Major HUNT

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the fact that, both before and during the War, a German firm or company is able to turn itself into a British firm or company by getting one of the German owners turned into a British subject and transferring to his name just over half the shares, and in this way escape from the jurisdiction of the Trading With the Enemy Act, he can see his way to have such alteration made at once in the Trading With the Enemy Act as will render impossible such action, and avoid this injustice to British firms and the British people?


As for a long time past no German has been able to become a British subject, no such proceedings as those indicated in my hon. Friend's question can take place.

Major HUNT

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the firm of Arthur Wilson Peck and Company, of Sheffield, whose manager was a brother of the London manager of Bechstein and Company, is still owned by Bechstein and Company and is still doing business in this country; and whether the firm of Hopkinson Brothers, of Leeds, is still owned by Bechstein and Company and is still doing business in this country?


As my hon. Friend was informed in July, the enemy shares in these two companies were vested in the Public Trustee, who has been endeavouring to find British purchasers for them. As he has not been able to effect a sale, I am consulting the Advisory Committee as to whether the businesses should now be wound up under Section 1 of the Trading With the Enemy Act, 1916.


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the enemy-owned shares in Siemens Brothers have yet been sold by the Public Trustee; if so, to whom and for what price?


I am considering, in consultation with my expert advisers, the British firms or classes of firms to whom it is desirable, in the interests of the electrical industry of the country, that the shares of Siemens Brothers and Company, Limited, should be sold. I hope this will shortly be decided, and the Public Trustee will then be in a position to deal with the shares which have been vested in him.


asked the President of the Board of Trade if Messrs. Siemens Brothers, a firm of alien and enemy origin trading in this country, was allowed during the month of April last by the Commission Internationale de Ravitaillement to export copper required for a specific purpose in Portugal; and, if so, will he say why the War Trade Department at the same time refused to allow a British firm to export the same copper for the same purpose to the same municipality in Portugal, despite the fact that the application of the British firm was supported by a certificate from a British Consul in Portugal?


(replying on behalf of the War Trade Department): Upon the first part of this question I have nothing to add to the answer given to the hon. Member on 12th October by the President of the Board of Trade. The facts with regard to the second part are as follows: A British firm applied to the War Trade Department for a licence for the export to Oporto of three and a-half tons of hard-drawn copper wire. Objection to this export was taken by the Ministry of Munitions, and the issue of a licence was refused on 12th April. Nothing further was heard of the matter until 28th June, when the firm by letter requested an interview, which was granted, and a suggestion was made to them that they should renew their application. They did so on 20th July, when the matter was further considered, with the result that a licence was issued on 28th July.