HC Deb 12 February 1872 vol 209 cc207-8

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether Copies of the English and American Cases will be presented to the Members of the two Houses of Parliament; and, if so, when?


I must, in answer to my hon. Friend, draw a distinction between the English and American Cases. The English Case is a document in our own discretion. The American Case is not. So far as regards the American Case, the circumstances I understand to be these—Copies of it have been liberally distributed; but it has not been officially presented to Congress, though, as I understand, published in America. We have no usage analogous to that; but we do not think it would be consistent with the respect and deference which, of course, we owe to a friendly Government in all matters of courtesy to present to Parliament a document which it has not thought fit to present to its own Legislative Assembly. I may mention for the accommodation of my hon. Friend what probably is known to him, and what has become known to me by my being favoured with a copy—that this Case has been printed in London, and is on sale, as I am informed. But with regard to our own Case the circumstances are different. It is not open to us, without introducing a usage which would be quite novel, and I think not very acceptable to Parliament, to adopt exactly the same course as has been adopted by the American Government with regard to this Case. According to general rule our own Case would not be presented to Parliament, because it is a document prepared for a process which has yet to come on, and it is for the consideration of the Arbitrators. But under the peculiar circumstances of this particular matter, when the American Case has obtained so much publicity, we think there ought to be a deviation from the general rule, and if my hon. Friend thinks fit to move for the Case there will be no objection whatever to its production. It might lead to a misunderstanding if the Government presented it, because the matter is only in an initiatory and introductory stage; and I would remind the House of this—which they are probably aware of—that they must not read our Case with the expectation that they are to find in it any reply to matters which are contained in the American Case, and which may have appeared there for the first time, because, of course, it was prepared anterior to the receipt of the American Case.