HC Deb 22 July 1872 vol 212 c1514

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether, if the House should assent to the Treaty of Washington Bill, it would by so doing in any way bind itself to give favourable consideration to the proposed Canadian guarantee?


Sir, in answer to the Question put by my hon. Friend, I have to state that it is perfectly true that a distinction exists between the position of the House and the position of the Government in respect to the proposed Canadian guarantee. The position of the Government is perfectly fixed, and I need not explain it—it has been sufficiently explained before. The question refers strictly to the position of the House. As regards the position of the House, I must say that according to the best opinion I can form, the assent to be given to the Treaty of Washington Bill is not intended by us to imply—and does not in the slightest degree imply—any alteration in the position of the House with respect to the guarantee, and for this reason—the Treaty of Washington Bill is introduced not exclusively or primarily for the purpose of our fulfilling engagements with the colonies, but for the purpose of fulfilling an engagement perfectly absolute under the Treaty of Washington itself; and unless it were introduced and passed now, the effect would be that whereas it is probable that the Congress would be meeting some two months hence, the whole legislation of the colony connected with this subject would remain suspended. It was, therefore, necessary that the judgment of the House should be taken at present. On that ground my hon. Friend will see that the liberty of the House is not in the least degree affected by the guarantee the Government intend to propose.