HC Deb 18 February 1840 vol 52 cc344-5
Sir J. Graham

said, he had a question to put to the noble Lord opposite, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs. He thought that it was in July last that official accounts reached this country that British property, of very large amount, upwards of 2,000,000l. sterling, had, by order of the English superintendent at Canton, been surrendered to the Chinese authorities, on a pledge that the loss should be made good by the British Government. In November last the Secretary of the Treasury gave official information to the parties interested that it was not the intention of the Government to make that repayment. At the commencement of the present Session her Majesty, in her most gracious Speech from the Throne, expressed her regret that events had happened which had occasioned an interruption of the commercial intercourse of her subjects with China. Subsequent information had been received that acts of hostility had been resorted to, and that the port of Canton had been blockaded by a British force for four days, but that the blockade had since been withdrawn. Still more recent news had reached this country that our ships had been attacked by the Chinese, and that a conflict had taken place. Parliament had now been assembled for a month, and no information had yet been laid before the House from which they might collect what was the real situation of affairs at Canton, and the question which he had now to ask the noble Lord was, whether he was now prepared to say when he would lay on the Table papers relating to affairs that were so interesting to this country?

Viscount Palmerston

said, that the right hon. Baronet was aware that papers had already been moved for, and ordered by the House, which were now in the course of preparation. He had made it his business, seeing that the right hon. Baronet had given notice of his intention to put the question which he had now asked, to go down to the office and ascertain when they would be ready for presentation; and he trusted that they would be ready early next week, but they would not be ready before that time.

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