HC Deb 15 March 1872 vol 210 cc49-50

Sir, I regret again to obtrude myself upon the House; but considering the interest—I may say the intense interest and anxiety—felt by the people of this country with regard to our relations with the Government of the United States, I think it necessary to press her Majesty's Government with an inquiry into a matter upon which we might have expected the right hon. Gentleman an the head of the Government would have made some communication to the House. I beg, now, that I am speaking on the subject, to explain the urgency of the inquiry, that it may not be misapprehended. By the Treaty of Washington the term of four months is allowed within which the Answer of our Government to the Case of the Government of the United States must be presented. Of that term fully three months have expired. The House will therefore see that, as the Easter holidays are impending, and for other reasons, I am fully justified in pressing the Government for some answer. The right hon. Gentleman will probably n-form us, now that he has received an answer to the friendly communication of our Government to that of the United States, how the two Houses of Parliament may become aware of the nature of that Answer?


Sir, I had risen from my seat to make a statement on this subject, when the right hon. Gentleman got up, but he did not seem disposed to give way to me. I, of course, intended, after the anxiety he has very properly shown, and only expressing the feeling universally entertained, to give the earliest intimation of the arrival of the despatch. Yesterday, at the time of the Questions, I mentioned that we had no intimation of it, except of its arrival, and that it was in the hands of the American Minister. In the course of the evening, however, it was put into my hands, and my Colleagues were made acquainted with it, before the adjournment of the House. That despatch will be taken into consideration by Her Majesty's Government when they meet in Cabinet to-morrow afternoon. Until they have done so, the House will not expect any further communication from me. I wish to offer a suggestion to my hon. Friend the Member for Warrington (Mr. Rylands), who is not in the House, but I believe he is represented by the hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Bowring) whom I see present. It is with reference to the Notice of Motion which the hon. Gentleman has given on the subject of the powers of the Crown to deal with foreign treaties before they are made known to Parliament. I would represent to the hon. Gentleman that it would not be possible for that important and difficult question to be so fully discussed as it deserves in the present state of these important negotiations with America, out of which the desire for the discussion has proceeded. It would be expedient, therefore, for the public convenience that that question should not come on to-night, and, perhaps, the hon. Gentleman would be good enough to postpone it.


The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) is correct in assuming that I have the authority of the hon. Member for Warrington to act for him in this matter; and in doing so, I have no hesitation in saying that, under the circumstances stated by the right hon. Gentleman, my hon. Friend is content to postpone the Motion which stands in his name, but on the understanding that he shall be at liberty to bring it forward on a future day.


was understood to say that having heard the statement of the First Minister of the Crown that the American despatch would be taken into consideration by the Government tomorrow, he would ask the right hon. Gentleman the First Minister on an early day, Whether he was of opinion that in the event of some fresh proposals being entertained by the two Governments, such proposals would not be deemed final until they had been submitted to Parliament, and Parliament had had an opportunity of expressing an opinion upon them?