§ 41. Mr. DAWES
asked the Under-secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been called to an advertisement published in the Press of the 29th May, 1919, inviting subscriptions for shares of a company called the Abyssinian Corporation, Limited, in which appears a letter, dated 13th May, 1919, from the Foreign Office addressed to Messrs. Erlangers, the promoters of the issue, which letter is the sole basis on which subscriptions are invited; how far the Foreign Office are concerned in the flotation of the company as indicated in the paragraph of the advertisement immediately following the letter; whether Messrs. Erlangers are receiving £30,000 for their services in connection with the issue; what proportion of this will be paid to the Foreign Office in return for the letter above mentioned; and whether other companies may expect to receive similar assistance from the Government Departments?
As appears from the report from His Majesty's Representative in Abyssiania, which was communicated in the Foreign Office letter of 13th May referred to, the Minister is convinced of the exceptional opening for trade development at present offered by Abyssinia, and of the great value of organising British commercial and financial interests in order to take advantage of the oppor- 1670 tunity presented. The Foreign Office being satisfied as to the correctness of Mr. Thesiger's appreciation of the position in regard to this gave the promoters of the new corporation, when approached by them, the full measure of assistance and advice which can properly be given to British business men of approved standing and repute aiming at the development of British enterprise in a foreign country. The assistance thus given included the personal interviews referred to in the above-mentioned Foreign Office letter, at which Mr. Thesiger gave to the directors the benefit of his knowledge of conditions in Abyssinia. This is the whole extent to which the Foreign Office have "been concerned in the flotation of the company."
As regards the financial arrangements between the corporation and Messrs. Erlanger, I possess no information beyond that contained in the prospectus itself. The same principles govern the conduct of the Foreign Office in their relations with all British firms, and, though each case must obviously be judged on its own merits, I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that the claims of any other company to Foreign Office assistance will receive the same consideration as those of the Abyssinian Corporation.
§ Sir C. HENRY
Could my hon. Friend state if the appointment of the Noble Lord the Member for Aldershot as chairman of this company was made at the instigation of the Foreign Office, or if the Foreign Office was consulted as to this appointment?