asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has approved of the action of the Dyestuff Advisory Licensing Committee in demanding from applicants for licences to import dyes highly confidential business information, such as the name of the foreign manufacturer, the purpose for which the dyes are required, and the name and address of the applicant's customer in this country; and whether the rules for the administration of the Dye-stuffs (Import Regulation) Act can be revised so as not to compel applicants to disclose confidential information to business rivals who are members of the Committee?
I am aware that the Dyestuffs Advisory Licensing Committee have thought it advisable, for the efficient discharge of their duties, to ask for information of the kind indicated from applicants for licences. I see no reason for interfering with the exercise of their discretion in this matter, which, so far as I am aware, has not been a cause of complaint by users. As regards the second part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the provisions of Section 2, Sub-section (5), of the Dyestuffs (Import Regulation) Act.
Can the right hon. Gentleman give any satisfactory reasons why one firm should be compelled to disclose the names of their customers to their competitors?
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that it is the practice of the Dyestuffs Committee, when an application is made for permission to import certain German dyes not made in this country, to advise the applicant to apply to Swiss agents for the same; and can he give any reason for such proceedings?
I understand that in accordance with the strong wish of the dye-users generally, in consequence of the assistance rendered by the Swiss dye-makers to the textile industries during the War, such advice has been given.
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is prepared to immediately institute an inquiry on the working of the Dyestuff Advisory Licensing Committee and to hear evidence of specific cases of injury to industries consuming dyes caused by the continual refusal of the Licensing Committee to grant licences for specific dyes not obtainable from home sources of supply?
No, Sir. I have no reason to suppose that there is any serious dissatisfaction among dye-users generally with the operations of the Committee, on which the users are strongly represented and which is discharging a very difficult task with great care and ability.
I should want notice of that question. With regard to the question of my hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Mr. Raffan), I am in touch with this Committee, and I see them whenever they desire to see me on any matters affecting their work.
asked the President of the Board of Trade the number of applications received by the Dyestuffs Committee for permission to import special dyes from Germany for the reason that such dyes are not procurable in England; and the number which have been granted and the number of similar applications to import dyes from Switzerland?
The numbers of licence applications granted and refused could not be given without going through the files, as no record as to numbers is kept, and they would not, I think, be of any appreciable significance; but as regards quantities during the year ended the 31st December last, applications to import 671,032 lbs. from Germany were granted, and applications to import 771,109 lbs. were "refused. During the same period applications to import from Switzerland were allowed in respect of 1,796,754 lbs., and refused in respect of 502,579 lbs.