HC Deb 05 May 1856 vol 141 cc2033-4

said, he had already given notice of a Motion with respect to the correspondence recently laid before the House connected with Central America. Before, however, he moved the Resolution on this subject which was at present on the paper, he would ask the noble Lord at the head of the Government, first, whether any answer had been received to the proposal of arbitration submitted to the Government of the United States; and, secondly, if that answer had not been received, whether the noble Lord was of opinion that the discussion of the question next Friday might be premature, or in any way prejudicial to the progress of negotiations? It would depend upon the answer of the noble Lord whether he would go on with his Motion on Friday or, in order to give greater time for the reply of the United States' Government, postpone the discussion until after Whitsuntide.


Sir, Her Majesty's Government have not yet received any reply to the proposal made to the United States' Government, that the questions connected with Central America should be referred to arbitration, though I should hope that an answer will very shortly be received, either consenting or giving reasons for declining that proposal. Of course, it is not for me to presume to throw out any suggestions in order to influence hon. Members in the performance of their Parliamentary duty, but still, as the hon. Baronet has had the goodness to submit his views, I am bound to say that I think, with a view to national interests in a question pending between this country and the Government of another country, that while a proposition, such as that of referring the dispute to arbitration is yet unanswered, those national interests will be best consulted if this House abstains from entering into a discussion of a question of this delicate nature until the answer of the United States' Government, one way or the other, has been received. If, therefore, the hon. Baronet, in the exercise of his discretion, should postpone his Motion to a later period after the holidays, I confess I think he would be exercising a sound judgment in the matter.


Sir, after the observations of the noble Lord, I shall postpone my Motion until after the Whitsuntide holidays, but I earnestly hope that no very great delay will take place in the discussion of the question.