HC Deb 25 February 1840 vol 52 cc611-2
Mr. Hume

said, that the House would recollect that during the last Session there had been laid on the Table a copy of a treaty of commerce with the Sultan. No one could be more anxious than he was for the increase of our commercial connection—every new market that was opened improved the prosperity of the country—but this treaty, he understood, when applied to the provinces which had formerly constituted part of the Ottoman empire, was more likely to impede commerce than to forward it. Before that treaty, British goods exported to, or imported from Turkey, were liable to a duty of three per cent. In Turkey Proper there were various abuses and monopolies, and certain internal duties were, in consequence, imposed, amounting in some instances to 30 per cent, These were, by this treaty, done away with, and a fixed duty of nine per cent, imposed, making 12 percent., the outside charge that could be levied on British merchandise. This, which was a benefit on Turkey Proper, was otherwise in Syria, Egypt, and other parts where these abuses did not previously exist, inasmuch as England by acceding to the treaty, was liable to a duty of 12 per cent, while Russia which had refused to accede to it, was subject only to a duty of 3 per cent. His object in bringing forward this motion was to ascertain from the noble Lord what was the actual state of the case. France, Austria, and Sweden, had agreed to this Convention, but Russia bad not; and England could not be considered upon the same footing as the most favoured nations, while Russian subjects paid a duty of three per cent., and British subjects paid one of 12 per cent. He would conclude by moving for copies of any correspondence with the Foreign Office, or the British authority in the Levant, as to the continuance of monopolies agreed to be abolished by the Treaty of Commerce with the Porte; and of any representations made as to the increased duties levied by the said Treaty of Commerce in the provinces of the Danube, or in Egypt and Syria. A comparative statement or return of the rate of duties levied in the Turkish empire, on articles exported and imported by British and Russian subjects, under the new treaty, and under the old one. Return of the rate of duties levied on imports from, and of exports to, Great Britain in Turkey Proper, and in the Turkish provinces of the Danube, and in Syria and Egypt, previously to, and since the late Treaty of Commerce with the Porte.

Viscount Palmerston

said, that it was not his intention to object to the production of the papers that had been called for. At the same time he begged to say in explanation, that there might be some difficulty in furnishing all the information that had been required. The treaty had led to great changes in the commerce of Turkey, and it might be difficult to furnish the amount of the duties levied under it as compared to former times. There had been different degrees of advantages produced by it to the different provinces of Turkey, and some doubts might arise as to whether it would be for the benefit of Turkey or of British commerce that the treaty should apply to the provinces of the Danube. It was quite clear, however, that if it should not be found advantageous to either, there could be no difficulty on either side in not applying it in those parts. The treaty would effect a great change in the trade of Turkey, and some time must elapse before it could be brought fully into operation. That time had not yet come, but as soon as it should arrive he would give the House all the information he should possess on the subject.—Motion agreed to.