§ Mr. HOGGE
asked the Postmaster-General whether a contract has been made with the Automatic Telephone Manufacturing Company, of Liverpool, for the installation of automatic telephony in London; whether, under the terms of this contract, a monopoly is given for a period of two or three years to this particular company; whether he will state the estimated value of the contract and if, when the contract was made, his Department was aware that the company, although registered in this country, is controlled by Theo. Gary and Company, of the United States of America, and the Automatic Electric Company, of Chicago; and whether he will order an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the granting of this contract?
§ Mr. HARTSHORN
A contract has been made with the company referred to, but no monopoly has been granted them. On the contrary, three other companies1048W are participating in the provision of automatic telephones in London, the patents owned by all four companies being pooled for this purpose. The value of the contract depends upon the amount of plant ordered under it, which is not definitely settled, but will probably be in the neighbourhood of £1,500,000. The Automatic Telephone Manufacturing Company is a British company controlled by British directors with its factory at Liverpool. It was known when the order was given that a considerable part of the capital of the company is held by the International Automatic Company, but as the plant supplied under the order will be with negligible exceptions if any, manufactured and installed by British labour, I see no reason for any further inquiry such as the hon. Member suggests.