§ MR. BOUVERIE
I wish, Sir, to ask my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government, Whether the statement contained in the telegrams from Geneva is correct, that the arguments under the Treaty of Washington have been put in by both Powers before the Court of Arbitration?
§ LORD EUSTACE CECIL
Before the right hon. Gentleman answers the Question, I may, perhaps, be allowed to ask another, of which I have given him private Notice. I wish to know, Whether, under the circumstances detailed in Mr. Fish's telegram to General Schenck of June 9, and Earl Granville's reply of June 10, the application for an adjournment of the Geneva Arbitration can with propriety be entertained by the Arbitrators without the assent and under protest of the United States Government? I ask this Question because there is a passage in Mr. Fish's telegram which I think is important, and which seems not to be easily reconciled with the statement made by Earl Granville. 1863 Mr. Fish, in his telegram of the 9th of June, says—In my despatch of June 2, I said that, in the opinion of this Government, the Arbitrators have the power to adjourn either on their own motion or on that of either party, and that if the arguments be put in on both sides on 15th and Great Britain moves for an adjournment we will assent.Earl Granville, in his letter to General Schenck next day, says—In the meantime, the High Contracting Parties not being in accord as to the subject matter of the reference to arbitration, Her Majesty's Government regret to find themselves unable to deliver the written Argument which their Agent is directed to put in under the Vth Article of the Treaty (although that Argument has been duly prepared, and is in the hands of their Agent), or to take any other step, at the present time, in the intended arbitration.It being doubtful whether the United States Government, under the circumstances, will or will not assent, I wish to know whether any motions of this kind can with propriety be made?
Sir, I will first answer my right hon. Friend behind me (Mr. Bouverie) with reference to the latest information which we have from Geneva. It is not a correct statement which he has referred to in the newspapers of this morning, that the two Summaries of Argument have been lodged before the Arbitrators, so far as the British Summary is concerned. With respect to the Question of the noble Lord (Lord Eustace Cecil), I may say that he is quite right in the reference which he has made to the telegram of Mr. Fish, dated the 9th of June, and also with regard to the reply of Lord Granville of the 10th. That reply does not give textually and verbally the effect of the proceedings at Geneva; but it is perfectly correct with reference to the point to which the noble Lord has referred—namely, the delivery or non-delivery of the written Argument. I have already stated that the written Argument has not been delivered by the British Agent; and I understand the Question of the noble Lord to be this—Whether it would have been possible for us to make a request for an adjournment without the delivery of the written Argument in full view of the declaration of Mr. Fish of the 9th of June, to the effect that the Arbitrators had power to adjourn on their own motion, or on that of either party; and also to the effect that if the Arguments on both sides were 1864 put in by the 15th, and Great Britain should move for an adjournment, then the American Government would assent. Undoubtedly, under that declaration of Mr. Fish we had no power whatever to hold the United States Government bound to assent to the motion for adjournment. But although the declaration of Mr. Fish stated that the United States Government would assent to the motion for an adjournment if the Arguments were put in, it did not state the converse—namely, that if the Arguments were not put in, they would not assent to a motion for adjournment. The application for adjournment was made by the British Government, in conformity with the announcement in the Papers in the hands of hon. Members on Saturday. The proceedings of the Arbitrators are secret, and it would not be consistent with our duty or respect to them to refer to that which they have not disclosed; nor, may I add, would it be consistent with duty, or with that sentiment of gratitude which we are all bound to feel towards Gentlemen who have undertaken labours of so important and delicate a character on behalf of the two countries. I may, however, say that we are given to understand that probably, the Arbitrators may again adjourn from their meeting to-day for the period of twenty-four hours.
§ MR. BOUVERIE
I rise to ask another Question. The right hon. Gentleman having stated—when the Papers were laid before the House—that the Government would be anxious that the opinion of the House should be expressed in a discussion, I wish to know, Whether the Government propose to lay further Papers on the Table, and to ask the judgment of the House on the Papers submitted to it?
My right hon. Friend has referred to a declaration which he says I made; but I am not conscious of having made any declaration with reference to the Correspondence. That an opportunity will be given to hon. Members to express any opinion they may entertain is obvious from the presentation of the Papers; but I certainly have not made any such statement on the part of the Government. I do not know that any such statement would be necessary at any time; and, undoubtedly, it would be premature in the present circumstances of the case.