HC Deb 16 June 1851 vol 117 cc778-9

wished to put a question to the right hon. the President of the Board of Trade. Last Session he bad been informed, in answer to a similar question, that measures were then being taken to enable the Government to lay before the House the latest intelligence as to Foreign Tariffs, and whether foreign countries had taken advantage of our change of policy to increase the amount of duties on British goods. He wished now to know whether the inquiry had been closed, and whether there was any objection to lay the papers on the table of the House?


said, the Government had long felt the great importance of giving accurate information with regard to foreign tariffs, and the changes made from time to time in those tariffs. The course had been to write to the Consuls to send home this information; but it was received in such a voluminous form, in a variety of languages, and in different coins and measures, that great expense would be incurred in putting it into a shape intelligible to the House; and, even if the coins and measures were, by the aid of interpreters in this country, reduced into the corresponding coins and measures of England, there would still be great doubt of accuracy being obtained. It was therefore thought the better and more economical mode would be to empower the Consuls to spend a very small sum of money for the translation and reduction from foreign to English coins and measures on the spot. Accordingly, the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs had written to the whole of the Ministers and Consuls abroad to send home, from time to time, the foreign tariffs in that form. That information would, he hoped, soon be coming in, and he should be quite ready to lay it on the table of the House.


said, by a report of a Committee upstairs, that had been printed some time past, the Consuls ought not to wait for orders to send the tariffs home; and, therefore, the whole of the information ought to be in London at the present moment.


said, that was quite true, and a very large mass of information was in the possession of the Government; but it was in so cumbrous and voluminous a shape that it was hardly useful at all for practical purposes.

Subject dropped.

Back to