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British Dyestuffs Corporation

Volume 154: debated on Wednesday 31 May 1922

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asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the Government representatives on the Board of Directors of the British Dyestuffs Corporation are in agreement with the present policy of the directorate; whether he is aware that it has been stated by Dr. Levenstein that the policy will fail to effect, both to the dye users and to the country, the services for which the corporation was formed; will he state who the Government representatives are; and whether they are persons equipped with expert knowledge and practical experience of the technical side of this complicated scientific industry?

The Government directors of the British Dyestuffs Corporation are Lord Ashfield and Sir Henry Birchenough, both of whom have much experience in the direction of large commercial and industrial undertakings. I do not regard detailed technical knowledge as necessary in the case of Government directors, and I understand that they are in full agreement with the policy of the board of the Corporation. I have seen certain Press statements attributed to the gentleman named in the question, but I do not know how far they correctly represent his views.

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate the fact that, although the nation has £1,750,000 invested in this concern, it has already lost about £125,000?

Has the right hon. Gentleman had a report as to the reasons for the resignation of Dr. Levenstein?

Was it necessary for Dr. Levenstein to remain a director of this concern, seeing that he has no more ability—

May I press for an answer to my question? After I put it, an hon. Member blanketed it with another question. Is that in order?

I am investigating this matter. I must remind the House that highly technical qualifications are not necessary for the administration of large companies. Often a technical man is a most indifferent administrator.

After the statement on such a very high authority as Dr. Levenstein, will the right hon. Gentleman say that this Act is fulfilling the purpose for which it was passed?

In business, as in politics, when a man ceases to cooperate with his colleagues, he is very apt to think they cannot get on without him.

Has the right hon. Gentleman had a report from these directors as to the reasons for the resignation of Dr. Levenstein, and, if not, will he inquire?