HC Deb 20 February 1918 vol 103 cc758-9W

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India if he-will state why the firm of A. Forbes and Company is not on the list of the Kip Committee for the supply of kips to the Government; and, having regard to the facts that the members of this firm, which belongs to the London Chamber of Commerce, are all of British birth, that the head of this firm is a recognised expert in the kip trade, and that before the War the firm was the largest shipper of hides from Calcutta to England, whether the Secretary of State for War will take steps to rectify this omission?


The present firm of A. Forbes and Company traded in India at the outbreak of the War under the name of Stein, Forbes and Company. On account of its composition and association it was held to be a "hostile" firm within the meaning of the Hostile Foreigners' Trading Order of the Indian Government, and was brought under control. The firm then reconstructed itself, and became A. Forbes and Company in India. Stein became J. Stoner, and J. Stoner and Company, of London, became the sole agents in Europe for A. Forbes and Company. In forming a Committee for the purchase of raw hides for the War Office, the Government of India did not select firms which had contained an enemy element or previously had an enemy association. For this reason A. Forbes and Company were not included. It is understood that since then the firm has severed its connection with J. Stoner and Company. In the event of any change in the present arrangements for the purchase of Indian raw hides for the British Government, the position of the firm would no doubt be open to reconsideration.