HC Deb 13 June 1862 vol 167 cc617-9

said, he wished to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether Mr. Bruce's letter dated the 1st day of February, 1862, to which Mr. Consul Harvey's Letter of the 20th day of March, 1862, is an answer (Further China Papers), will be communicated to the House; whether Mr. Consul Harvey has reported the establishment of a Taeping Custom-house at Ningpo; whether Mr. Consul Harvey has communicated to the Foreign Office Copy of the Taeping Customs Tariff; and whether the names of British subjects in the pay of the Tartar Government in the Customs Departments of the five Treaty Ports will be communicated to the House, the names being on the Consular Lists.


in reply to the first question said, that the letter to which his hon. and gallant Friend had referred, would be found at page 844 of the papers which had been laid on the table. There might be a mistake as to the date, but no other letter had been received from Mr. Bruce. He thought his hon. and gallant Friend was not justified in making accusations against Consul Harvey. He could not conceive that any one in Consul Harvey's responsible position could be capable of wilfully suppressing information. Up to a very recent date Consul Harvey, who was resident on the spot, reported that no attempt had been made to establish a Taeping custom-house at Ningpo. In reply to the third Question, no such tariff as that referred to had reached the Foreign Office. With regard to the fourth inquiry, the Government were really unable to give the names of all the gentlemen employed by the Chinese Government. They were aware that certain Gentlemen, including Messrs. Lay, Fitzroy, and Hart, men of great ability and integrity, were employed by the Chinese Government to assist them in organizing their customs, which were in a very disordered state. The Government had no official knowledge of the terms upon which they were so employed. Those gentlemen made such arrangement as they thought fit with the Chinese Government, and the Government could not call upon them to send in a statement of their emoluments, as we had no control over them.


said, that whilst he did not agree with the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Sykes) in his views with regard to the Taepings, he did not think the Under Secretary had given him a proper reply. The Under Secretary told the House that the English Government had nothing to do with the Chinese customs. Prima facie that was a very proper answer to give; but the fact was that the Chinese customs tariff had been endorsed by Her Majesty's Government. The gentlemen in question were men in high position, holding distinguished offices under the British Government; and though they had resigned those offices with the full knowledge of Lord Elgin, yet the Government declared they were not in a condition to announce their names and emoluments. It was a matter of deep interest to the House to know what was the state of our relations with the Chinese Government. He believed that the policy of the British Government in China had been attended with most calamitous results, and probably would be greatly influenced by the gentlemen nominated by Lord Elgin; and it was therefore important to know their names. He repeated, without wishing to prejudice the general question, that he thought the hon. and gallant Member had not been well treated by the Under Secretary.