HC Deb 07 March 1844 vol 73 cc602-3
Mr. Labouchere

begged to put a question to the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government. He had observed a report of a speech of M. Guizot, the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, from which it would appear, unless the speech was incorrectly repotted, that M. Guizot considered the commercial negotiations between France and this country completely at an end. In order to satisfy the French Chambers, M. Guizot was represented to have stated that instead of relaxing the duties upon foreign produce imported into France, he had gone on increasing them. It was therefore clear, if M. Guizot was not misrepresented, that the French Ministry considered the negotiations with this country completely at an end. If that were the case, he was sure, from the language he had heard from the right hon. Gentleman as to the evil consequences of the public mind being left in uncertainty on such subjects, that he would take some means of imparting the same intelligence to the public of this country as had been communicated to the French people. The question which he wished to put was, as what had come to his knowledge might be mere rumour, whether the right hon. Baronet was prepared to confirm the accounts as the language of M. Guizot, and that the negotiations between this country and France with respect to their commercial relations were at an end?

Sir R. Peel

said, he had referred to that which he considered the most authentic statement, namely, that contained in The Moniteur, of the speech of M. Guizot. As the right hon. Gentleman was aware there must be two voluntary contracting parties to a treaty of commerce, whatever impediments had occurred in the way of the conclusion of the treaty, he could assure the right hon. Gentleman they had not been occasioned by the Government of this country. Of course the signature of a treaty was entirely at the discretion of either party, which in this ease was the French Government. He did not know exactly to what report the right hon. Gentleman referred, but on looking to the most authentic source, The Moniteur, he (Sir Robert Peel) had no doubt, that in the opinion of the French Government there was no prospect of the negotiations being brought to a successful conclusion. He was now speaking of a formal convention; he said nothing on other subjects, but looking at what had passed, and at the speech of M. Guizot, he could have no doubt whatever, that in the opinion of the French Government, there was no probability of a reciprocal reduction of duties by means of actual treaty.