HC Deb 04 July 1873 vol 216 cc1783-4

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether, if the Treaty of Commerce with France, signed on the 5th November 1872, is not to be ratified, Her Ma- jesty's Government will urge a permanent most favoured nation article, which shall effectually prevent the state of uncertainty which at present exists, as to the future of our commercial relations with France; and, whether Her Majesty's Government will urge the introduction of such improvements in the management of the French Customs, with reference to expertise and classification of goods, as were agreed upon in Paris between the Commissioners appointed by their respective Governments?


Sir, the Treaty of the 5th November last was referred, on the recent change of Government in France, to the Conseil Supérieur du Commerce de I'Agriculture et de I'Industrie, and until the Conseil makes its Report, which is shortly expected, no formal negotiations on the subject of the Treaty can be entered into; but the two Governments are exchanging unofficial communications, which it is to be hoped may facilitate the attainment of an arrangement satisfactory to both countries. It would be premature to state the nature of those communications; but the House may rest assured that the interests of British commerce, both as regards commerce generally and as regards the details of such matters as expertise and classification of goods, will be carefully watched over by Her Majesty's Ambassador at Paris, who has full instructions for his guidance, and by whom the negotiation will be conducted.