HC Deb 18 March 1862 vol 165 cc1747-9

said, he rose to ask the President of the Board of Trade, What steps have been taken by the Government to put an end to the virtual prohibition against the importation of English Salt into France; and whether there is a prospect of the trade in that article being placed, at an early period, on a more favourable footing, in conformity with the spirit of the French Treaty; whether instructions have been given to Her Majesty's Minister at Brussels to exercise due vigilance in obtaining from the Bel- gian Government the measure of justice of admitting British trade to a full participation in any advantages granted to the trade of any other country; whether it is not the fact that English vessels are still excluded from the conveyance of Salt to Belgian ports, whilst France has acquired, under her late Treaty with Belgium, the right to carry Salt to Belgian Ports, in French vessels, and that they also enjoy a discount of seven per cent on the duty of 275 francs per ton levied on French Marine Salt so imported into Belgium; and whether the Government has instructed Mr. Mallet, of the Board of Trade, who is now at Berlin, to obtain permission, for the transit of Salt through the territory of the Zollverein, with bonding facilities in the Zollverein Ports for Salt, so as to enable this country to send that article up the large rivers into Poland and Russia, which countries are now, to a great extent, supplied with Austrian Salt?


said, that with regard to the first question of the hon. Gentleman, which related to the reduction of duty on Salt imported into France in conformity with the spirit of the French Treaty, he could only say that the Government had been led to hope for some time past that the Import Duties upon Salt going into France would be considerably diminished; but that the delay, they were told, had taken place in consequence of an inquiry that was being conducted in Finance in reference to the Excise Duty on Salt made in France, it being rendered necessary to regulate the Import Duty on Salt imported into France in reference to the Excise Duty at present levied upon Salt made in France. He should, however, make inquiries with a view of ascertaining what prospect there was of a speedy settlement of the question. With respect to the question relative to Belgium, he could only say that up to the present time the Belgian Government had not agreed to give the same treatment to England that they had extended to many other countries. There was no doubt that at the present moment our trade with Belgium was not in so advantageous a position as the trade between Belgium and France and other countries. The Government had not failed to urge that this country was entitled to be treated equally with other countries by the Belgian Government, and they hoped they should ultimately succeed in obtaining that "favoured nation" clause, which was the question under consideration. With regard to the British flag being assimilated to the Belgian flag, in the carriage of Salt, that, he presumed, would take place as well as the assimilation to the French flag and all other flags when the "favoured nation" clause was agreed to by the Belgian Government. He was not aware that Mr. Mallet had been instructed to make any representations about Salt at Berlin. There was no opportunity to make any representations to the Prussian Government in reference to any revision of the Zollverein tariff. He therefore could not say that any definite instructions would be given to Mr. Mallet in reference to it.