HC Deb 29 April 1881 vol 260 cc1417-8

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether Her Majesty's Government have received the views of the Government of India as to the arrangement proposed in Sir Thomas Wade's Despatch of 31st January 1881; whether Her Majesty's Government have yet received from Sir Thomas Wade those observations on the subject of Opium taxation which, in that Despatch, he proposes to forward to Lord Salisbury in a "Separate Despatch;" whether Her Majesty's Government can, without disadvantage to the public Service, lay upon the Table any further Papers relating to the ratification of the Chefoo Convention, especially those relating to the manner in which the "Likin" would be collected by the different provincial Governments, and as to how far the term of five years, alluded to by the Prince of Kung in his Despatch of the 14th January 1880 to Sir Thomas Wade as the period for the trial of the arrangements, has been agreed upon; and, whether any date has been named for "putting the plan in operation," as urged by the Prince of Kung in his Despatch of 20th November 1879 (contained in the Paper, "China," No. 2, 1880?)


It is true that Sir Thomas Wade in his despatch of January 31, 1880 (China, No. 2, 1880) promised a further Report on the opium question, and that this promise was repeated in a telegram dated May 6, 1880. On July 31 we inquired by telegraph whent his Report would be forthcoming, and Sir Thomas Wade replied, on the 11th of August, that it was still incomplete, and would, when finished, contain little new matter. On the 19th of August we telegraphed again to know if any new objection had arisen to the five years' arrangement, as assented to previously, the nature of which is fully explained in China No. 2, 1880. Sir Thomas Wade answered by telegraph on the 30th of August that it would be necessary to obtain the assent of the other Treaty Powers to the proposed arrangements, and that he feared that this assent would be withheld "unless the Chinese Government relieved foreign trade from undue taxation inland." In view of this great delay it was proposed by the Foreign Office in two letters to the India Office, dated September 21 and November 30, that an effort should at once be made to obtain directly from the various Treaty Powers their assent to the five years' arrangement. India Office replies were dated January 8 and January 27, and in these the Foreign Office was informed that after communication with the Indian Government they had no objection to the plan, provided satisfactory information could be obtained on certain details in regard to "likin" barriers. A telegram was addressed to Sir Thomas Wade on the 5th of February requesting him to furnish at once the required details. Upon the 19th of March he replied by telegraph that the points in question had been discussed with the Chinese Government, who were engaged on inquiries which would enable him to return an exact answer by telegraph. The observations which Sir Thomas Wade promised have not yet been received, and Her Majesty's Government cannot take any steps to put the plan referred to in operation until the further information recently called for from him has been obtained. Sir Thomas will, however, be instructed by telegraph to press the Chinese Government to furnish the information required, and Her Majesty's Government will lay additional Papers on the Table as soon as they properly can.