MR. GATHORNE HARDY
My right hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) has requested me in his absence to put the Question which stands in his name—namely, to inquire, Whether Her Majesty's Government are prepared to give the House an assurance that further proceedings in the Arbitration at Geneva will be suspended unless the Claims, termed the Indirect Claims, are abandoned or withdrawn by the Government of the United States?
I cannot feel, Sir, any surprise, or express any complaint, that this Question has been put; but I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not be surprised if I state that I must adhere to the declaration I made about 10 days ago—I think it was on 1680 the 12th of April—inasmuch as the consideration by which that declaration was dictated is still in full force. In that declaration I stated that we do not think it advisable to announce any decision as to the course it may be our duty to take with regard to proceeding further with the Arbitration at Geneva until we know in what manner the Government of the United States intends to deal with the Note addressed by my noble Friend (Earl Granville) to General Schenck on the 20th of March. The answer to that Note we understand to be on its way to this country. I will simply add a few words to the declaration I made some days ago. We have no doubt we shall receive the support of Parliament in maintaining the position we have held as to the scope and intention of the reference made to the Tribunal at Geneva; but we believe that any Parliamentary declaration at this stage of the diplomatic correspondence would tend not to strengthen but to weaken the position of the Government. When I say "at this stage of the diplomatic correspondence," I mean the stage which it continues now to hold, and which it must hold, until we receive that reply of the American Government to which I have already alluded.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
Perhaps I may be permitted to give Notice, on behalf of my right hon. Friend, that he will take an early opportunity of calling the attention of the House to this subject, and of asking its opinion upon it.
§ MR. BOUVERIE
The right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government says he understands the reply of the American Government is on its way to this country. May I ask him when he expects it will be received?
My right hon. Friend will, of course, not hold me responsible for my answer in the same way as if the document in question were under our own control; but I may say that the information we possess leads us to believe that the reply was despatched by the American Government on the Wednesday of last week, and that, in the usual course it will, about Monday next, be in the hands of the American Minister in this country, who, no doubt, will take a very early opportunity of placing it in the hands of Her Majesty's Government.