HC Deb 10 February 1881 vol 258 c505

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether he can give any information in regard to the present position of the Commercial Treaty Negotiations with France, Spain, and Portugal; and particularly to inquire whether all idea of a reduction in Wine Duties has been abandoned, unless accompanied by reduction in the Duties charged upon the manufactures of Great Britain and Ireland?


Sir, in their commercial negotiations with France, Her Majesty's Government have lost no opportunity of bringing the representations of various industries and trades in this country to the knowledge of the French Government; but the latter wish to suspend all active negotiations until the settlement of the general tariff, which it is hoped will not be much longer delayed. As regards Spain, Her Majesty's Government have been inconstant communication with the Spanish Government, and have repeatedly urged the removal of the differential duties at present levied on British produce. Her Majesty's Government trust that the Government which has just come into Office in Spain will favourably entertain the friendly representations which have been made. The case of Portugal differs from that of Spain, for though the duties are high and prohibitory, British manufactures enjoy virtually most favoured nation treatment, and Her Majesty's Government are steadily urging the adoption of a more liberal tariff. The question of the possible reduction of the Wine Duties in this country, apart from any commercial negotiations, is a financial question on which it is not within my province to pronounce an opinion.