HC Deb 20 June 1872 vol 211 cc1985-6

Observing, Sir, a Notice placed on the Paper prior to the Whitsun holidays by the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), proposing— To bring before the consideration of the House the state of our relations with the Government of the United Sates of America, I wish to ask him, Whether he intends bringing it forward any time during this Session?


It appears to me, Sir, that the inquiry which the hon. Gentleman has addressed to me has arisen from a misconception of the Notice that I gave some time ago. At the time when I gave that Notice, the two countries, having entered into a Treaty to which they ascribed different interpretations, had commenced negotiations in order to arrive at some similarity of opinion. Those negotiations completely failed; affairs were at a deadlock, and I thought I was but doing my duty in asking the House to consider what were the causes of that failure, and to take such a course as might be of a remedial nature. Before, however, I could bring forward that Motion, to my surprise, and confessedly to the surprise of Her Majesty's Ministers, they found themselves engaged in fresh negotiations with the object of concluding a Treaty which would remove these difficulties. Those negotiations, so far as I am aware, have not concluded—at any rate, we have had no official announcement of their conclusion; and, under these circumstances, I certainly do not deem it consistent with my sense of public duty that I should embarrass a Government conducting negotiations by debates in this House. When we hear—which, probably, we very shortly may—from an official and authentic quarter that those negotiations have terminated, it will be in my power to consider, with the information then before the House, the whole circumstances of the case, and I shall then be able to decide what course it will be my duty to pursue. In that event, however, the only consideration which would influence me would be the public welfare.