HC Deb 03 June 1872 vol 211 cc1032-48



Sir, I feel that after what I stated on Friday last, when I again asked for the indulgence of the House with respect to the Treaty of Washington, and when, after I had called the attention of the House to the fact, that the Session both of the Senate and the House of Representatives was to terminate to-day—thereby indicating that the demand made upon your patience could not be for any great length of time—the House will naturally expect to hear from the Government what we have to say to them, that day having now arrived. As regards the immediate point to which I then referred, hon. Members will have read in the newspapers the statement, which is quite accurate, that the Session of both Houses of the American Legislature has been prolonged from the 3rd to the 10th. That prolongation, I apprehend, is a matter entirely in their own hands, and we were not informed beforehand that it would be done. It, however, opens a door, and probably gives time to the Senate—if there be a disposition, even amid the great pressure of business which there as here attends the close of a Session—to revert to this subject; but I must leave hon. Members to appreciate the significance or importance of the fact as they think proper, because we have no official or absolute right to place any particular construction upon it, beyond what the statement itself conveys. I will not, however, confine myself to another appeal to the indulgence of the House, but will endeavour, so far as the public interests involved will permit, to convey to the House some particulars respecting this important negotiation, which I trust will be so far of advantage that they will tend to obviate certain misconstructions which have evidently more or less possessed portions of the public mind. I will advert first to an isolated point—namely, to the publication of certain Papers in America, with regard to which we ventured to express our full belief that it was in no way due to the action of the American Government. That which we formerly stated as an opinion we are now entitled to state as a fact. I am assured that not only was the publication not due to the action of the Executive Government, but that it was not due to the action of the Members of the Senate; and if I am asked to what it was due, we are told that it resulted from what is termed "enterprise."[Laughter.] The House can interpret that phrase for itself quite as well as I can, for it can well conceive the anxiety of the Press to supply and the public to receive what may be termed sensational information, and that there are persons ever on the search for means of affording it; and, accordingly, we presume that the vigour and ingenuity of some gentlemen engaged in that important profession were the cause and the means of what we thought—and indeed what all must have felt—on political grounds, to be an inconvenient publication. When the Article was published, an opinion was expressed in this country that its language was weak in that part which refers to what are known as the Claims for Indirect Losses, and that it would not preclude the prosecution of those claims before the Tribunal at Geneva. When I say there was an opinion to that effect, I am far from say-it was the opinion of the country; but it was an opinion which occurred to some to conceive, and I wish, therefore, without entering into any argument on the words themselves, to say these two things—in the first place, we have not proceeded with respect to those words without availing ourselves of the assistance of the best legal information and authority at our command, in order to assure ourselves of their purpose and significance. I may say that we had the assistance of my noble Friend the Lord Chancellor in the Cabinet, and the Law Officers of the Crown; only—speci- fying a change which has recently taken place in the Law Officers of the Crown—in lieu of the officer who was formerly the Queen's Advocate, we have now, as the legal adviser of the Foreign Office, Dr. Deane; and last, but not least, we have had the advantage of the assistance of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) who, as the House knows, has accepted and discharged the office of Counsel to Her Majesty's Government in regard to the prosecution of the Arbitration under the Treaty of Washington. The unanimous opinion of those legal authorities assured us of the sufficiency of those words to preclude the entertaining and prosecution of the Indirect Claims at Geneva; and I will venture to make this observation—some persons have supposed that the words "for the future," which are contained in the previous portion of the Article are applicable to the engagement not to make any claim for Indirect Losses at Geneva. Now, that is not so. The words "for the future" are only applicable to what I think is the penultimate clause of the Article; and the engagement of the President, supposed to be undertaken in virtue and consideration of what has preceded, is not limited by any such condition as those words might appear to imply. That is the case so far as regards the view of Her Majesty's Government, and the view of those on whom they rely for legal guidance as to the choice of terms and expressions. With respect, however, to that point—and it is one of importance—I feel justified in saying that, so far as our knowledge goes, we have not the slightest reason to believe that there is any difference of construction upon the two sides of the water in this matter. The House will bear in mind that telegraphic messages are, of necessity, less full of explanation than communications by post, and that, in fact, explanations are very rarely offered upon them until some challenge has occurred which makes it necessary; and there has been no challenge whatever indicating any difficulty or difference of opinion with respect to this phrase. I will, however, briefly describe the state of the case as we conceive it to be, and it may be of some interest to the House to hear it, because it will explain—perhaps more clearly than the Government have yet done—the manner in which we came to effect a transition from the proposal which was first made to proceed with the American Government by an interchange of Notes to the other method of procedure—namely, by reference to the "treaty-making power" of the United States, which includes the Senate as well as the Executive Government. The state of the case, so far as we understand and believe, was this—and the House will be able from its knowledge of the Papers to a great extent to check what I say—The President held that the Indirect Claims were strictly admissible under the Treaty. The Treaty was a formal document, imposing certain obligations on him: it had been made and signed, as he deemed, in that sense, and therefore, although he conceived himself perfectly warranted in agreeing by an interchange of Notes not to press for compensation in respect to claims for Indirect Losses, yet he did not conceive that it lay within his discretion as Head of the Government to withdraw those Claims. It must be obvious that even the word "withdrawal" may perhaps be open—quite irrespective of the sensitive feelings with which it is regarded in America in connection with the Treaty—to a good deal of technical discussion, because the Claims exist in the American Case; and I apprehend that when public opinion in this country expresses a desire for "withdrawal," what is really meant is that we wish to be secured from any further proceeding of any kind tending to a practical issue on the Claims, either in the shape of money or opinion, or any other shape being taken upon them. Well, Sir, the President felt that to proceed with those Claims in the manner which was thought necessary was beyond his discretion. He considered it could only be done by an exercise of the full "treaty-making power," and it was for this purpose he expressed to us—we were not, indeed, at the first moment by telegraph apprized of the reason of the change—a desire that, instead of an interchange of Notes, the two Governments should proceed by a draft Supplemental Article, under which, for some sufficient consideration, the Government of the United States might make a declaration that they would make no claim for Indirect Losses, so that the Arbitrators should thereby be prevented from entertaining such Claims. That is our view of the case and our belief is, that that is the sense which the American Government places upon the words—which sense does not appear to us doubtful—of the ultimate clause of the Supplemental Article; and I am authorized to say that that is the view which has been made known to the distinguished gentleman who represents the United States Government at this Court, and which has received his concurrence. The House will be pleased to understand a distinction which I am now very anxious to make between the real state of things and the impressions which have prevailed abroad. There has been a prevailing impression that the Correspondence which has been going on between the two Governments has been due to an attempt of some kind on the part of the American Government to procure the weakening, or dilation, of this covenant, whereby the President is supposed to undertake that he will make no claim for the Indirect Losses before the Tribunal at Geneva. That is not so. No such attempt whatever has been made by the President, and there has been no difference whatever between the two Governments as to the letter of that stipulation, nor, so far as we know, as to its spirit or construction. The subject of the communications between the two Governments, indeed, has been of an entirely different character. It has related to that portion of the Article which, very naturally, has not received by any means the same amount of critical attention from the public in this country as the closing and more immediately operative words, but which, notwithstanding, it is our duty, as it refers to an obligation to be undertaken, and to an effect in the practical policy of this country in time to come, to weigh and canvass with the utmost minuteness. In fact, the remaining question is altogether one of a prospective character. The House is aware of the general scope of the argument which the Government held with respect to the Indirect Claims inserted in the American Case. It is also aware of the disposition and desire of the American Government to generalize the expression of their argument, and to lay it down, as a principle for the conduct of future negotiations and the regulation of the relations between the two Governments; but the very utterance of those words will show clearly that an attempt to generalize principles of that kind, and convert them into an engagement, is a matter which in the use of expressions requires the utmost possible care and circumspection. Well, Sir, perhaps I may be asked whether, as the terms of the Article are before the House, we are willing to make known the amendment proposed by the Senate, I having stated to what portion of it the amendment refers? In answering that question, I hope the House will not think it is due to any jealousy on our part, if we say we have come to the conclusion that it might not be expedient with reference to the state of things in America—certainly it would not be consistent with a due respect to the Senate and the Government of the United States—if the terms of the amendment were to be published by us. The House will be good enough to understand that there is no difference existing between us, or likely to exist, with respect to the method of the proceedings as to these Indirect Claims, which have formed the subject of very anxious discussion during the last few months—no difference—that is to say, presuming that we arrive at an understanding with respect to prospective engagements. But the immediate differences have reference entirely to the precise extent of that prospective engagement, which, it is obvious, is a very nice matter to express in words, and although we have been discussing the extent of that precise engagement to be expressed in words, we have no reason to believe that the variations of opinion—the divergences of opinion—which there have been on particular expressions, are referrible in any degree to the differences in aim and purpose of the two Governments. We venture, as far as the nature of telegraphic communications permits us, to believe the contrary; but, at any rate, we should be very wrong if we allowed it to be supposed on our authority that there was a real difference in the aim, purpose, and policy of the two Governments. The affirming of the engagement, and the extent of that engagement, as defined by its language, is the point on which our recent communications have turned, and that being so, I trust that what I have said, although I am far from thinking that it can draw forth or challenge in any manner the approval of the House —which I wish it to be understood I in no degree or manner ask at the present moment—yet, if there be elsewhere uneasiness at the continuation of the negotiations, it may serve to allay that uneasiness, because that uneasiness undoubtedly has reference to the supposition that the continuance of the negotiations had reference to the whole subject of the Indirect Claims; whereas, in reference to that, the negotiations have not continued, inasmuch as no point of difficulty has been raised or suggested. I have taken the liberty of presuming on the indulgence of the House in offering to them this statement, which is a statement we think that our public duty requires we should lay at the present moment before the House.


Sir, practically speaking, the statement of the right hon. Gentleman amounts to this—that the negotiations which he had led the House to believe must terminate tonight, may be extended by the Government of the United States for another week, or until the 10th instant. But the right hon. Gentleman has not informed the House—and I think that under these circumstances, even independently of the anxiety of the House, it ought to be informed on the point—what arrangements are made or contemplated by the right hon. Gentleman with reference to our engagements under the Treaty of Washington which are due on the 15th?


Sir, with regard to the engagement as to the proceedings at Geneva on the 15th of June, they are also, of necessity, the immediate subject of the communications now going on, and the only pledge I think the House will expect from me at the present time with respect to such communications, will be that all our proceedings will be in the strictest conformity and consistency with the assurances we have given to the House.


Sir, I am not quite assured that I correctly understood the right hon. Gentleman's statement. He says there is no difference of opinion between the two Governments as to their engagements—as to their aim, purpose, and policy. Now, I have understood the difference to be this—that the British Government has insisted that the Indirect Claims did not fall under the Treaty, and could not be submitted to arbitration; and that the Government of the United States, on the other hand, insisted that the Indirect Claims did come under the Treaty, and that the President, to use the words of my right hon. Friend, had no discretion to withdraw them; and the language of Mr. Fish, as we have seen, has been clear, consistent, and resolute on that subject. Now, the Question I have to ask is, whether or not Her Majesty's Government has any reason to suppose that the Government of the United States is at all disposed to withdraw from the position which Mr. Fish has stated—namely, that "concessions by the British Government must precede any settlement of the question?"


Sir, I did not imply in anything I have said to the House that the United States and the British Government had arrived at a complete understanding on those questions which they have been debating during the last four or five months. My right hon. Friend is aware that the object of the Supplemental Article is to bring the matter to a controversial issue by striking out a new path to obtain the end we have in view. In fact, as he will remember, the existing differences with regard to the scope and aim of that Treaty are set forth in the Supplemental Article itself, and the endeavour is to escape from them, rather than to solve them, by a new mode of procedure. I think, then, that in what I have stated, I have stated pretty accurately the view that we take of the bearing of the Supplemental Article on the Indirect Claims. The President, by the Supplemental Article, engages, of course, contingently upon the conclusion of the Supplemental Article—and, therefore, upon the settlement of all the matters which it contains—that he will make no claim in respect of Indirect Losses at Geneva. Those words we understand to bear no meaning except one, and that is—that Claims for Indirect Losses shall not be prosecuted before, or entertained by, the Arbitrators at Geneva. The American Government has signified to us no different construction of those words. We have made known our construction of them to the American Minister at this Court, and he assures us that it is his construction also, and that it is consistent with the construction put upon them by the American Government.


Sir, I, for one, acknowledge the delicate situation in which Her Majesty's Government are placed, and therefore I do not intend to enter at length into the subject; but, at the same time, when the right hon. Gentleman talks of the sensitive feeling in America, I think he ought to recollect that there may be a sensitive feeling in this country, and that, so far as his explanation of the matters in hand goes, it is directly at variance with the Papers which we have seen, both private and confidential correspondence, and also with the Papers, No. 7, which have been issued this morning. I cannot therefore but say that I thing the explanation he has given tonight has told us really nothing to the point. How far the House is prepared to accept this statement of the right hon. Gentleman as an explanation it is not for me to say; but I think the House will hardly be doing its duty to the country if it is satisfied with the very meagre explanation given on behalf of Her Majesty's Government as to what they intend to do at Geneva on the 15th of June. I hope this House will not be satisfied, but that they will extort, if it be necessary, from Her Majesty's Ministers something more direct, to the effect that they will refuse utterly to go into any arbitration at all, unless these Indirect Claims are fully, fairly, and at once withdrawn. We have had a long statement from the right hon. Gentleman. He has covered a very small matter with a great quantity of words; but I very much doubt whether, when that explanation goes forth, it will give satisfaction to the sensitive feeling of the people of this country. The matter has now arrived at a direct issue, and I call upon all those hon. Gentlemen who have the true honour of this country at heart not to be satisfied with the bare explanation given by the right hon. Gentleman about going into arbitration on the 15th of June, although the right hon. Gentleman says that the policy of the Government will be in conformity with the principles they have hitherto announced. I have not such confidence in the expressions or actions of the Government on the subject as to induce me to receive that promise. I hope therefore the right hon. Gentleman or some Secretary of State will give us a more direct pledge on this question, and tell us that Her Majesty's Government will not go into arbitration, unless these Indirect Claims are fully, fairly, and explicitly withdrawn.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Mr. Osborne.)


said, he did not wish to prolong this discussion, but he wished to ask one Question, and to make one observation. He wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman, Whether, as he had referred to and quoted the Supplemental Article, according to rule the Supplemental Article should not he laid on the Table of the House? The observation he wished to make was this—he heard with great alarm his right hon. Friend say that he and his Colleagues had an understanding as to what was the meaning of the stipulation of the Supplemental Article. [Mr. GLADSTONE: No, no!] He was in the recollection of the House that the right hon. Gentleman said—"We understand what is the meaning of the stipulation of the Supplemental Article, and we have an assurance from the Minister of the United States at this Court that that is the correct understanding," Now, as far as they knew of that transaction, a great deal of the difficulty had arisen from a similar state of things—an understanding on our part as to what was the meaning of an ambiguous clause, and the same assent, verbal or otherwise, on the part of the United States Government—that that understanding—which subsequently was departed from—was the right one. It had been said, but he did not know with what truth, because they could not get at the bottom of it, that that was the origin of all this difficulty, and therefore he said it was with considerable alarm that he heard the statement of his right hon. Friend; and he would entreat the Government not to be satisfied with a mere verbal assurance of the Minister of the United States, as to what was the meaning to be put upon this stipulation, but to have a distinct recognized acknowledgment on the part of the Government of the United States as to the meaning which they, in common with our own Government, put upon it.


Sir, whatever may be the meaning of "the understanding" which has been arrived at between Her Majesty's Government and the United States with regard to the Supplemental Article, one thing, at least, is clear from the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, and that is, that at the present moment the Indirect Claims are not definitely withdrawn. It was therefore well said by the hon. Gentleman who spoke behind me (Mr. Osborne) that Mr. Fish, in the whole of his diplomatic correspondence, had never held out one single hope that the Indirect Claims should be withdrawn from the consideration of the Arbitrators at Geneva; and, therefore, when the country heard that a renewal of the negotiations had been entered on by Her Majesty's Government, it was received universally with a feeling somewhat akin to dismay. And not only that, but the position of the country—that we should never even discuss the Indirect Claims has been gathering strength day by day, and a Notice of Motion has been put on the Notice Paper of "another place" by that veteran of British statesmen, whose conduct through the whole of this matter, from the time of the escape of the Alabama until now, has, at any rate, been manly, patriotic, and intelligible. This House, too, with great self-denial, has hitherto refused to discuss the subject now before us; but I suppose that Her Majesty's Government will recognize the fact, that it is impossible to impose permanent silence upon us, and I rise accordingly for the purpose of saying that it is my intention to put upon the Paper of this House a Notice, similar in its terms to that which is to be moved by Earl Russell in "another place." I do so, as Earl Russell has stated that he does, not from any dislike to the Treaty, or any wish to embarrass the Government; not from any dislike to the Treaty, because a treaty of amity between this country and the United States must be most valuable—but it may be too dearly bought; and not from any hostility to the Government, because I believe that in discussing this matter we should not embarrass them, but rather strengthen their hands. In fact, the progress of these negotiations from the beginning, if it has shown us as anything, has shown us this—that we have been willing to concede too much, and that every concession has only evoked from the Americans renewed and increased demands. Anyone who knows American character will thoroughly understand why that is. Our concessions were regarded not as friendly concessions, but as proofs of weakness; and therefore continued negotiations have been constantly drawing us from our ground, while the Americans have held firm to the original propositions which they laid down. But if we had taken a more decided line, and, to use an American phrase—"put our foot down more firmly," we should have been far more likely to conclude the Treaty, than by allowing American politicians to suppose that we were in any respect squeezable. If this matter were discussed in this House—as I know it would be—in a quiet, calm, gentlemanly spirit, so far from embarrassing the Government we should strengthen their hands; we should do so by distinctly repudiating the Indirect Claims by a vote of this House, and by stating that this country will not under any circumstances allow them to come before the Arbitrators for discussion. In the present state of Business and of the Notice Paper it will be impossible for a private Member to bring forward such a Motion without the concurrence of the Government and their assistance. I am in the hands of the Government and the House; but I cannot suppose that they will not be willing to give every facility for bringing the subject forward at the proper time. I beg to give Notice that I intend to place the terms of my Resolution on the Notice Paper to-night.


Sir, I understand the right hon. Gentleman has stated the position of affairs to be this—that Her Majesty's Government and the Government of the United States are now perfectly agreed that the Indirect Claims are not to go before the Arbitrators at Geneva on the 15th of June. Now, that is an important statement, and it would be a satisfactory one except for what has occurred before in relation to this business. What we want to know is, not only whether they are not to go before the Arbitrators on the 15th of June, but whether they are distinctly "and unconditionally" withdrawn? If this concession has been made, and if those claims are not to go before the Arbitrators on the 15th of June, on account of the sacrifice of some prospective rights which this country may have at a future time, then the statement we have heard to-night is not satisfactory. I trust, therefore, before this discussion closes that we shall hear that the reference is not limited to the 15th of June, but that the Indirect Claims are entirely withdrawn in substance and form, and that this has been done not by any compromise of the rights of this country on a future occasion.


Sir, I am not desirous of saying anything to embarrass the Government, nor do I blame them for any arrangement they may make, provided always that arrangement be one which is consistent with the honour and interests of the country and with the engagements which Her Majesty's Government have made with this House; nor should I have said one word on this occasion had it not been for a statement made by the Prime Minister, which seems to me to be one of great importance. If I understood the right hon. Gentleman rightly—and, I say it respectfully, it seemed to me exceedingly difficult to understand him—the position is this—The right hon. Gentleman and his Government have maintained that there was nothing in the Treaty which justified the Government of the United States in bringing what are known as the Indirect Claims before the Arbitrators at Geneva. An opinion, however, entirely opposed to that has been maintained by the United States' Government. The right hon. Gentleman, if I understood him rightly, stated to the House this afternoon that the country would be mistaken if it supposed that the difference now existing with the United States referred to that matter, for the sense of the speech I take to be this—that an understanding could be arrived at on the matter between the two Governments, provided they could agree on some prospective arrangement for some consideration which was to be given in return. Let me ask the House one moment to consider what an important statement that is. We have not been fortunate hitherto in our, negotiations with the United States in this matter, and the word of warning which I wish to utter to this House is this—that we are incurring a danger far greater than that which we have already incurred, if we are about to enter into a fresh engagement with the United States as to some prospective consideration, by means of which an arrangement may be come to between the two Governments on the all-important point on which they now differ. The question which I wish to ask now, if the right hon. Gentleman will be kind enough to answer it, is, Whether any proposition on this matter has been made by Her Majesty's Government to the Government of the United States; and, if so, whether that proposition has been accepted or not by the Government of the United States?


There is one other point, Sir, to which I wish to call the right hon. Gentleman's attention. It is admitted on all hands that the Supplemental Article is not in itself a withdrawal of the Indirect Claims; but the right hon. Gentleman states that the construction put on it by his Government is that it amounts to a withdrawal of those Claims, and that that construction is acquiesced in by the American Minister. What I want to know is, Whether that acquiescence of the American Minister is in writing, and in such form as to bind the Government of the United States, or whether it is one of those verbal—I cannot call them understandings but misunderstandings?


The hon. Member for West Cumberland (Mr. P. Wyndham) asked whether this was the position of the case—that the Indirect Claims were not to be pressed either on the 15th of June or at any future time. The question which I want to ask is this—Do Her Majesty's Government make it a condition of allowing the reference to arbitration to proceed, that it is understood and admitted by the American Government that the Arbitrators have no power to inquire into Indirect Claims of any kind whatever? Is that the understanding, or is it not?


Sir, the Questions and points that have been taken up by various Members are a little promiscuous, but I will endeavour to answer them in as intelligible a manner as I can. My right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock has, I think, stated that I have said we had "an understanding" with the Government of the United States as to the meaning of certain words. That was one of the points which I contradicted, and then he appealed to the recollection of the House.


What I wished to say was, quoting the words of the right hon. Gentleman, that the Government here understood what was the meaning of the Supplemental Article, and they had the assent of the Minister of the United States to that understanding; but I spoke in reference to the understanding which everybody now knows that there was as to the meaning of the Treaty of Washington.


I am quite satisfied with the words of my right hon. Friend; but the understanding on the Treaty of Washington was this—that the Government had come to an understanding as to a certain Treaty and the covenants of it, though the covenants were not expressed. That is quite a different matter. I am satisfied with the words of my right hon. Friend. We do not find fault with them as being incorrect, but they are not quite complete. The state of the case is this—We believe the words to be perfectly distinct. They have not been challenged in any manner on the other side of the water; but there has been criticism upon them on this side of the water, and it is with reference to that criticism, and not to any international controversy, that I mentioned that we had fortified ourselves by obtaining the best legal advice at our command. We likewise stated our view of the matter to the American Minister, and the American Minister distinctly concurred in the view stated by Her Majesty's Government. [Mr. GREGORY: Was that concurrence reduced to writing?] I am coming to that point. That is the statement I made, and I hope it is intelligible. The hon. Member for Sussex asks whether it was reduced to writing. Certainly, we have not thought it necessary or becoming, when the American Minister stated his view on a particular subject, to say to him—"Will you be kind enough to put that view in writing?" But Lord Granville has taken care to record the effect of that conversation, and to ascertain by the usual and proper means that the record is correct. My hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy asks whether we are making any stipulation with respect to the power of the Arbitrators at Geneva to entertain the Indirect Claims? Sir, that is no part of the subject-matter of the present negotiations. We have our own view of the powers of the Arbitrators, and when the occasion arises, it will be our duty to act on that view; but it is no part of the present negotiations to discuss the question of the power of the Arbitrators. My hon. Friend the Member for Chatham—though I think he has misapprehended the word I used—was perfectly justified in putting without Notice the Question he has addressed to me. He is very much alarmed at the phrase "consideration" employed by me, and seems to think there is to be some price not expressed or brought to the knowledge of the public, and which is to be paid by us to the American Government as an equivalent for the surrender of the prosecution of the Indirect Claims, or in other words, for a practical reduction of those Claims to a nullity. Now, no such matter is in reserve at all—nothing is in reserve. The word "consideration" was used by me, entirely for the reason that it had passed into conversation, and is so recorded in the communication between Lord Granville and the American Minister; the "consideration" being that expressed in the Article—it is a covenant for the future, and is strictly reciprocal between the two countries. I hope by that explanation I have removed any apprehension on that point from the mind of my hon. Friend. Then, my hon. Friend the Member for Waterford challenged me upon the question whether, under any circumstances, we should consent to allow the Indirect Claims to be prosecuted at Geneva. With respect to that all-important subject, I do not think this is the proper moment to enter upon it. It formed the subject of discussion before the Whitsuntide Recess; it was referred to in the terms of the Queen's Speech, and I indicated the sense we placed upon those terms. We then referred to the single and separate views of the British Government; but we are now engaged in negotiation, endeavouring to express the combined view of the two Governments, and while we are so negotiating it would be, in my opinion, madness—it would certainly be a gross breach of duty—on the part of Her Majesty's Government, if they were to choose that moment for going back to the expression of their separate views. Should we fail, however, to concur with the American Government, then will be the time when it will be right to state the separate views of Her Majesty's Government. There is but one other matter to refer to. My noble Friend the Member for Berwick says he will give Notice of a Motion relating to this important question, with a view to strengthen the hands of the Government; but he says that as a private Member, he has no power of introducing any such question to the notice of the House, and, consequently, he hopes the Government will, as it is called, "give a day" for that purpose. Sir, I cannot accede to such a request. I cannot accede to the doctrine that private Members have no means of introducing subjects in which they are interested to the notice of the House, though I admit there is a degree of competition between them as to the particular subjects they wish to bring forward. In the present state of things, however, I do not think it would be consistent with my duty to interrupt the course of Business, in order that the House might discuss the Motion proposed by my noble Friend.


I gather from what the right hon. Gentleman has said that he will have no objection to lay the Supplemental Article upon the Table; but we have had no distinct assurance to that effect.


As a matter of form, the House is in possession of the Supplemental Article; but it is a point on which I should like to consult my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and I will answer the question to-morrow.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.