HC Deb 05 February 1918 vol 101 cc2137-8W

asked the Minister of Munitions whether his attention has been called to the fact that permission to deal in ore coming from Morocco was refused to a British merchant and was given to a Dutch firm of German origin, W. H. Müller and Company, which enabled W. H. Müller and Company to purchase 35,000 tons of the same ore, for which a special authority was given by the Ministry of Munitions to sell to a British ironmaster; whether he is aware that all cargoes sold by the Dutch firm of German origin are invoiced from The Hague and so escape British taxation; and, having regard to the national interests, why he excludes from any part of the ore trade in this country any British firm from which Income Tax and Excess Profits Duty can be collected, and permits a Dutch firm of German origin, which is not accountable for taxes here, to do the business and to make the profit at our expense?


The British merchant to whom I understand my hon. Friend to refer is on the approved list of merchants for shipment of iron ore from ports in the North of Spain and from Seville in the South. The firm applied late in 1916 for permission to extend their trading facilities to cover ore from Spanish North Africa, but as they were unable to satisfy the conditions laid down in the Regulations governing such extensions, permission was refused. At the end of 1917 the ore position at a large smelting works became extremely critical and, as an emergency measure, special permission was granted to the smelters to purchase a quantity of ore through a merchant on the approved list, Messrs. W. H. Muller and Company (London), Limited. The Dutch firm, W. H. Muller and Company, is not on the approved list and the transaction referred to was with W. H. Muller and Company (London), Limited, which is an English company liable to Income Tax and Excess Profits Duty, as are other English companies.

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