HC Deb 03 April 1873 vol 215 cc528-9

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether, as the Commercial Treaty with France expired on the 15th March, and as the New Treaty has not yet received the sanction of the French Assembly, it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to resort to the Commercial Relations existing between this Country and France prior to 1860; and, if not, what course they will adopt pending the acceptance of the New Treaty or in the event of its non-acceptance by the French Assembly?


Sir, the Question of the hon. Member embraces two branches—the first having reference to the measures we propose to adopt in consequence of the New Treaty not having been accepted by the French Assembly, and the next as to the course to be taken by us in the event of the rejection of that Treaty. As to the first, it does not appear to us to call for any measures at all. There is no doubt that for the present the matter is suspended; but the effect of that suspension is beneficial to us, inasmuch as it insures to us the continuance of the rates of duty accorded to us by the Treaty of 1860; and, of course, as the hon. Member is aware, no change could be made on this side of the water except by legislation, which we certainly do not contemplate proposing for that purpose. With regard to the course to be taken in case of the final rejection of the Treaty, that must depend on the circumstances of the case. In the meantime, we are not very willing to anticipate that such will be the result of the deliberations of the Assembly.