HC Deb 27 March 1840 vol 53 cc170-1
Mr. Colquhoun

begged to ask the noble Lord whether the Java duties had yet been placed upon a footing corresponding with the treaty between this country and Holland upon the subject, and whether any steps had been taken by her Majesty's Government with reference to the new settlement at Sumatra.

Viscount Palmerston

said, that one of the subjects of discussion between the two Governments related to the difference between the duties imposed upon British and Dutch imports, our Government contending that the existing tariff was not in conformity with the treaty in this respect. In consequence of this discussion a new tariff had been issued by the Dutch authorities, which was quite satisfactory as regarded the difference of duties, for it fixed the duties in such proportions as were consistent with the terms of the treaty. The question which still remained was, whether, according to the correct interpretation of the treaty, the difference of duty should depend upon the nationality of the commodity or upon that of the flag. We had met with this difficulty in supporting the construction of the treaty for which we contended—namely, that we found the East India Company were acting upon the same interpretation of the treaty as was adopted by the Dutch government. The East India Company was not inclined to make any alteration in the course which they had taken in this respect, and it was therefore not just that we should press our construction of the treaty upon the Dutch government, when the East India Company were acting upon an opposite interpretation. The matter had, consequently, been allowed to rest where it was. With regard to the other subject referred to by the hon. Member, her Majesty's Government had applied to the Government at the Hague to ascertain whether the pro- ceedings of the local authorities at Java, with respect to the new settlement, had taken place with the sanction of the Government at home. The answer was, that those proceedings had taken place with such sanction, and therefore there was no ground for any interference on our part with the authorities at Java, nor was there any ground for supposing that the proceedings of the Dutch authorities would prove injurious to British commerce, for, of course, British subjects would be entitled to trade with the new settlement upon the same terms as those on which they traded with settlements already established.

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