HC Deb 05 July 1881 vol 263 cc29-45

said, that after what had passed on the previous day on the subject, he rose with regret for the purpose of making an appeal to the Prime Minister for a translation in English of the Return of the French Tariff. In doing so, the House was aware that he was within the fact when he said there was no question at that moment which was more discussed, and more constantly in the mouth of every workman in every factory, workshop, and yard in the country than the question of their commercial relations with France. He was exceedingly sorry to make that appeal to the Prime Minister; but hon. Members on both sides of the House would be aware that he had in no way interrupted or interfered with the progress of the Business of the House. During the discussion on the Land Bill he had restrained his feelings. But the conduct of the Government in persistently withholding all or any information with respect to the French Tariff, and the position of this country in regard to its commercial relations with France—what he should call the persistent concealment on the part of the Government with regard to what was going on in reference to their Treaty relations with France——


rose to Order, and said there was no Question before the House.


said, he would conclude with a Motion. The conduct of the Government had made it absolutely necessary for him to take that step—["Oh, oh!"]—and he would remind hon. Gentlemen opposite below the Gangway, who had not been so long in the House as himself, that he was only following the example of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who took the very step he (Viscount Sandon) was now obliged to take, of intruding the subject to the notice of the House from those very Benches when he was last in Opposition a few years ago. He would just ask them to remember why he was obliged to take that step. It was quite obvious from the answer that had been given by the Prime Minister that private Members had no chance of bringing forward any subject whatever; and yet the present subject, by general consent, was one which was exercising the great masses of the people very much more than the Irish Land Bill. He should, therefore, have been happy to obtain a discussion on the subject at half-past 12 at night, and should have been perfectly content to have divided the House on the subject at that late hour, not caring for a long discussion; but the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Chamberlain) had thought fit to take a course which, in former Sessions, was considered most unusual, and had prevented him proceeding with the Motion for a Return of the changes contemplated in their commercial relations with France. He (Viscount Sandon) was one of the last men to allude to former services; but he must just ask hon. Members to recollect that when he asked for a Return of this kind he did so, not in his personal capacity, but as one who had borne an important Office in the last Government, as President of the Board of Trade, and as one who, owing to his connection with the important port of Liverpool, had some right to assume that he know something of the commercial feeling of this country, not only as to Chambers of Commerce—for he was happy to say he did not confine his inquiries to Chambers of Commerce—but among merchants and the great mass of men who gained their living by means of commerce. He believed it to be unprecedented to refuse a Return of this kind when asked for, and he was fully aware of the great responsibility of taking this step. The question, he would point out, was urgent; and it was urgent, because the commercial relations with France must be concluded within a very few weeks. Now, the House of Commons, the Prime Minister told them, was to adjourn about the 6th of August—just four weeks' time, and if the French Chambers prolonged the negotiations on the subject, they would only be prolonged, they were told, for three months, so that the country would have no opportunity whatever of expressing an opinion upon its great commercial relations with France in the few weeks that remained of the Session. He said that hon. Members on the opposite side of the House treated this subject as a light subject; but the constituencies did not think so, and he would recommend hon. Members to visit their constituents, and see what they thought about it. He thought he had established urgency; for the House was to be up in four weeks, and negotiations for the Treaty must proceed very shortly. Perhaps hon. Members thought he was making a good deal of a Return which they had not seen, or perhaps the Prime Minister had not seen, and if the right hon. Gentleman would allow him, he would make him a present of one. [Laughter.] Some hon. Members regarded that as a joke; but it was no joking matter. He (Viscount Sandon) observed the President of the Board of Trade regarded it as a joke; but the Return was a very serious thing. It was not his desire to have a general accounts; but what he requested was that the people of this country should be put in possession of a statement of their former commercial position with France, and of the changes proposed to be introduced, so that they might compare the two. The Return he wished to have in English was in three columns. The first was the old Tariff, the second the commercial arrangements with France, under which we had worked some years under Cobden's negotiations and under the Most Favoured Nation Clause; and the third column gave the new Tariff as proposed by the French Chambers. It did not give that mysterious document which nobody was al- lowed to see but a few favoured members of the Chambers of Commerce; and it did not give what the hon. Baronet (Sir Charles W. Dilke) had called the tariff à discuter in the French terms which had been offered by the French Commissioners. There was a tendency to use French terms; but he thought that was a practice rather to be avoided in the House. He thought it was right to use English terms in this country. This Paper contained about 600 articles in print. It was not a very heavy book, but one of modest extent, consisting only of about 52 pages, and it would not be a matter of very heavy cost if given in English. He moved for the Returns in April in a very simple and natural manner, and as it was produced it showed the various facts in English. He therefore expected the Returns would be given in the same language; but, to his astonishment, when he was prepared to send them to some working-men's associations in Liverpool, who took a keen interest in this matter—[Ministerial laughter]—he was not at all ashamed to own that he had sent it to a workingmen's association; he was saying that to his astonishment he found it to be in French, and that he would only make himself utterly absurd if he sent it to the working men in that language, with which they were not familiar. So the matter first came to his notice. After a while, hon. Members from other commercial constituencies said the same thing, when the constituencies asked for them. He had asked for an English translation; but it was refused, the Returns remaining in French; and that, he thought, was an unprecedented course for the Government to take at a time of great excitement on commercial matters. That was, however, a course reserved entirely for that most enlightened Liberal Government to adopt. Now, some of the supporters of the Government might regard that as a slight matter; but that it was not so would be apparent when he stated that the new Tariff increased by about 24 per cent the duties on the great bulk of the important articles of British manufacture; and, beyond that, converted to our detriment into specific duties the existing ad valorem duties, which appeared to have been raised. It also made a change in the classification, which the English people would have difficulty in understanding if informa- tion such as he asked for was persistently withheld, and which would increase the duties. Anybody who knew anything of commercial matters was aware that the change implied a great burden upon the British trader. It was a change which would also be very fatal to the English people. ["Hear, hear!" from the Opposition.] It might be said by some that the proposed changes would affect but few industries; but the contrary was the fact, as their influence on British industries would be widespread and most serious. If the House would allow him, he would show how multiform were the interests affected, and what the articles affected were. They were stone and slate, marble and stone, all minerals and stones, iron and steel, chemicals, soda, soap and starch, feathers and down, earthenware and china, glass and glass ware, prints and textiles, table-linen, hosiery, cotton, poplin, velvets, silk, tissue and fancy papers, skins and leather, furniture, carriages, musical instruments, guns, fowling-pieces, and breech-loading rough gun-barrels. These were but a selection of the articles upon which a seriously increased Tariff was proposed to be placed; and the selection he had given would show how widespread and serious were the changes which were proposed by our French neighbours. Surely by this time we could understand that the matter was a very important one. He would ask just one simple question, which perhaps would tend to bring this discussion to an issue. Why on earth should there be any concealment whatever on the part of the Government on a matter of such importance to the people of this country? If they did not want to have Returns, why did the Government grant it in French six weeks ago? But the Government did grant a Return, full of important particulars in three columns, showing the particular position of the country at this moment. It was important that the country should know what the position of the country was. The Return was granted without hesitation in French; what possible excuse could the Government have for not giving it in English? He was quite sure the position of right hon. Gentleman opposite was utterly and entirely untenable. It was almost like saying to a boy, who was growing up—"These books are only for grown-up people, so pray do not read them. When you are grown up you can read them." So this was saying to the working people—"When you know French, you can lead it; it is not for the present working people, and you shall not read what your betters around you shall read." He would venture to remind the House, from his own knowledge, what was the feeling of the commercial class—working-men, manufacturers, shipping-people—with regard to the French Treaty. It was this, that they certainly ought not to have a worse French Treaty than the Cobden Treaty. That, he thought, was a universal feeling on both sides of the House. They could not afford to have a worse Treaty than the Cobden Treaty, and he believed that they ought to have, and might have by careful and prudent negotiations, a better Treaty. Hon. Gentlemen opposite, no doubt, might say that they ought to have confidence in Her Majesty's Government in this matter. But he (Viscount Sandon) did not wish to raise the matter as a question of confidence one way or the other. It was very much too serious a question in the interests of this country for that. In the interest of truth and facts, he must say that it had not been unobserved by those interested in these industries that in the division led by the hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Monk), both the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade and the hon. Baronet the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs voted against his Resolution——


I stated at the time that the Government would vote for going into Committee of Supply, agreeing, as they did, with the terms of the hon. Member's Resolution, but thinking it undignified to pass such a Resolution while the negotiations were going on.


said, he wished to point out that the names which appeared in the Division List gave the impression that the right hon. and hon. Gentlemen to whom he had referred were not staunch, and the conduct of the President of the Board of Trade with regard to the Sugar Bounties had, he (Viscount Sandon) ventured to say, probably done more to shake the confidence of the working people of the country—[Cries of "No, no!"]—he hoped he might be allowed to finish the sentence—had done, perhaps, more than was imagined to shake the confidence of the working people, not with regard to his economic views, but with regard to his sympathy towards those engaged in the sugar refining industries, as indicated by the tone of the letters signed by the Board of Trade. He would now run over the several reasons given by the right hon. Gentleman flip President of the Board of Trade for refusing to give the information which they had a right to demand.


I beg the, noble Viscount's pardon. The noble Viscount attributes to me a statement which I did not make at all, and in regard to which I have on more than one occasion endeavoured to correct him. I did not refuse the translation of this Return. I never have refused it. ["Oh!"] I merely asked the noble Viscount to wait the result of inquiries which I was making of the re-presentatives of the commercial classes, with regard to its utility.


, continuing, said, the right hon. Gentleman seemed to forget that he was asked by the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Stuart-Wortley) to give this translation. He did not give it, and he repeatedly refused it. He declined to give it for the following reasons:—He said that it would cause a great deal of delay; but the real delay was in declining to give the Return, because if it had been put in hand three weeks ago, when the Question was asked, the translation would have been made and in the hands of the public by this time. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that "there was considerable difficulty in translation." He also said he was at a loss to find English equivalents for some of the French denominations. He (Viscount Sandon) thought that rather strengthened the reason why they should have the translation. The whole of the commercial community interested in the question of the French Commercial Treaty were told that the Government could not find in the Foreign Office, in the Board of Trade, or among the experts in London, men competent to find English equivalents for these French terms. One comfort was, however, given to them. They were assured that the working men—the artizans—the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chamberlain) said so—were all acquainted with the French terms used. If that were so, it simplified the matter, for it would have been a very easy thing to have sent a Circular from the Board of Trade to the different centres of artizan population, asking the working men what was the meaning of the terms? That, he thought, threw some light on the negotiations which had been proceeding. It turned out that those grandees sitting in Whitehall did not understand the meaning of some of the terms they were discussing, and the whole subject was wrapped up in so much mystery, so much confusion, that he thought it would be best cleared up by the Prime Minister giving the Returns in English, so that the country might know exactly what the position was. There was one thing, however, which stopped the way. The President of the Board of Trade told them that the Return might be an expensive one. He (Viscount Sandon), however, could not think, when so much expense was being incurred in connection with the Commercial Treaty, that translating into English a little Return of 52 pages would be a very heavy burden even upon the exchequer of a Liberal Government. He was supposed to be crushed by the answer of the hon. Baronet the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who said that they were discussing the French General Tariff in the Commission; but nobody supposed that they were discussing the French General Tariff, seeing that the Commissioners from France brought their terms in their hands. It was no answer whatever to his appeal to say they were not to know what the Cobden Tariff was, to enable them to compare it with the new French Tariff, because of this mysterious document which they were not allowed to see in the Chambers of Whitehall. He thought it was a great misfortune that the document should be communicated singly to the different manufacturers, so that each manufacturer separately should be made aware of the secret proposals of the French Government. He maintained that the country had a right to be made acquainted with the question of the French Tariff as a whole. Anybody who knew anything of the feelings of the industrial classes was aware that there was what might be called a great solidarity between them. They all felt that if one class of industry was injured, the others would ultimately suffer. He would conclude by again asking—What was the meaning of all that concealment? Why did not the Government at once give way? He had told the President of the Board of Trade that he should not be satisfied with the mere opinions of the Chambers of Commerce. He asked hon. Members opposite whether, if the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce said they did not care for a translation, he (Viscount Sandon), representing thousands of persons interested in trade and commerce, would be right in accepting that statement? He felt convinced that this affair had arisen from the want of experience—with which they had no right to find fault—of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade. Nobody could suppose it was a grave fault; but, of course, they all knew that the right hon. Gentleman had not spent a great deal of time within those walls. He appealed to the Prime Minister, who appreciated deeply and truly the feelings of the masses of the industrial classes, and who knew how they liked to be taken into confidence in these matters, which affected their daily bread and daily life; and he asked him to take one of two courses—first, that he would instruct the Members of his Government to remove the block from the Motion which stood in his (Viscount Sandon's) name, if he put it on the Paper. He would then bring it on after half-past 12, when he would be content, sparing them another speech, to take the opinion of the House upon it; and if the House thought it was better that there should not be an English translation of these French Commercial Treaties, he would not say more about the matter. What, however, he would like better than that course would be for the Prime Minister to acknowledge that there had been a slight mistake, and to say that on the whole he thought it was better that an English translation should be at once laid on the Table. He would move the adjournment of the House.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Viscount Sanden.)


Sir, I have no complaint to make of either of the alternative proposals with which the noble Viscount opposite (Viscount Sandon) has concluded his speech, as they are perfectly fair ones—that the Government should withdraw the expression of a desire made by my right hon. Friend near me (Mr. Chamberlain) not to have an opportunity of discussing this Return before it was granted; and the other, that we should agree to withdraw any obstacle to the prosecution of the Motion of the noble Viscount, either at the proper hour of the evening, or, as he fairly says, at half-past 12, and allow him to take the judgment of the House upon it. I make no complaint of that proposition, I am very sorry that the noble Viscount, who is not accustomed to deal with a matter of this kind, should have introduced into the speech one or two points which require a little notice from me. He made it matter of complaint that when he appealed to me yesterday I was silent. The noble Viscount did appeal to me yesterday, and I was silent; but the reason was that I requested my right hon. Friend near me to speak on my behalf. The reason why I said nothing was because I knew nothing, a rule which, I think, perhaps, would be advantageous—namely, that those who know nothing of a subject should say less. I say so for myself, and perhaps other hon. Members may apply the remark to themselves. The noble Viscount quoted, as a precedent to the conduct of my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, in having previously moved the adjournment of the House during the Question time. That precedent, in my opinion, is no precedent at all, as the cases are not in the slightest analogous. But I make no complaint whatever of the noble Viscount moving the adjournment of the House, because I think, under the circumstances in which he stands, he not having the means of bringing it forward in any other way, he has a perfect right to take this course—at all events, it is not my business to complain. I do, however, really feel somewhat disposed to regret that the noble Viscount should have assumed the patronage of my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade for what he thinks his miscarriage in this matter, and thrown his shield over him, by referring to what he considers his inexperience in Office. My right hon. Friend has sat in this House for a not inconsiderable number of years, and has had an amount of practice in what may be called Public Business before entering this House, which is probably quite unequalled by that of any other hon. Member within the House. The noble Viscount must know that this kind of patronage, especially when offered across the Table, has really always the appearance of an intention to wound and hurt the feelings of those to whom it is directed. In these circumstances, I think that the tone of the noble Viscount's speech was most inappropriate and most unfortunate, and I trust the noble Viscount himself will a little regret it. I come now to the question itself. The noble Viscount asks what is the object of all this concealment on the part of the Government? Here, I must say, I am afraid we are all apt to be more tolerant of charges against our moral character than against our understanding, and I own I do feel very much hurt by the estimate the noble Viscount has formed of our understanding, when he actually conceives that we are capable of devising a plan to conceal information from the House and the public, by only publishing it in the French language. I think the estimate he forms of our motives in this matter is one he might apply to the lowest aborigines on the face of the earth, or, perhaps, even to go further back, to some of our ancestors anterior to the human race; and, even there, he might have detected a dawning of intelligence, such as if they had desired to conceal anything they would never have adopted this particular course. Now I come to the main matter—and I think I have come to it rather quicker than the noble Viscount—and, after consulting my right hon. Friend, I will take the shortest of the noble Viscount's suggestions, and for this reason—my right hon. Friend near me desired to secure an opportunity for discussing this Motion, because he thought it desirable to lay before the House the position of affairs. But to-day the question has been raised in a manner that seems to evoke a considerable amount of warmth, and that warmth is not an immaterial fact for us to weigh. I must say that if there is any one subject on which, more than another, we should be less anxious to practice concealment it would be the tendency to establish protective Tariffs, whether in France or any other foreign countries. That is a subject on which, so far as we can prudently do it, it is our interest in the highest sense, and emi-nently comformable to the traditions of my right hon. Friend and all those who sit on this side of the House, that we should endeavour to enlist the English public upon our side. There are several modes of enlisting public opinion. Some of these modes may be prudent, and others less prudent. The noble Viscount has read out, amidst storms of indignant cheers from the opposite Benches the extravagant rates of protective duty which the French, in the exercise of their discretion, have proposed to levy upon a multitude of English imported goods, of which the noble Viscount only gave us a very short statement. For my own part, I am delighted to find manifested upon the opposite side of the House so strong a sense of the inexpediency of a country resorting to such practices. I am all the more delighted at that manifestation of feeling on the part of hon. Members opposite because, unfortunately, it is not supposed to be expressive of the sentiment held by them; and I have seen in journals professing to represent their views, and I have read it speeches which have been delivered through the length and breadth of the country, lamentations over the un wisdom of this country in exposing its markets to be flooded by all sorts of manufactures, and, on the other hand, altogether commending the great prudence and wonderful forethought of other countries, France amongst them, for protecting their trade against the invasion of the stranger. My satisfaction at that expression of opinion on the part of hon. Members opposite is all the greater because I am sure they will admit that if these prohibitive duties are bad in the case of one country they must be equally bad in the case of all countries, and that will show that they have changed their minds as to the effect of them in this country. What I desire, however, to point out is that, although the expression of such sentiment, on behalf of hon. Members opposite may have considerable effect in rousing and stirring up the public feeling of this country against protective Tariffs, the echo of those sentiments will go forth, and the speech of the noble Viscount will go forth, and be heard in France, and by the French public; and the consequence may be—I do not hesitate to say that probably it will be—to seriously increase the difficulties of carrying on the negotiations between the two countries. My frank opinion is, and I appeal to hon. Members on all sides of the House, to remember that, while it is desirable that the British public shall be thoroughly and completely informed as to what is going on, it is desirable that these matters shall not become the theme of a rather warm debate in this House at the present moment while negotiations are proceeding, but that the discussion in respect of them shall be postponed to a more convenient season. My right hon. Friend is quite ready to give an indication of his very sincere adhesion to that view by consenting at once to repress the desire he has felt for stating what he would call his case in favour of the Return; and, therefore, instead of agreeing to the suggestion of the noble Viscount that this debate shall be resumed at a late hour, I am willing to withdraw all opposition to the production of the Return. Her Majesty's Government feel that it is far better that they should remain, in some degree, misapprehended, and that their motives, not for refusing, but for postponing, the production of these Papers should be misunderstood, than that they should enter upon a debate on the subject at the present moment which may lead to misconstruction. No doubt the noble Viscount felt himself justified in bringing forward this question if he believed that the Government were shrouding themselves behind the impenetrable mysteries of the French language in order to gain their object of concealment. I am not, therefore, in any way finding fault with the noble Viscount; but I appeal to him, after the concession I have made, to withdraw his Motion for the adjournment of the House.


said, he would answer the appeal of the right hon. Gentleman by doing his best to prevent the discussion from going any further. All he could say was that if the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Chamberlain) thought that he (Viscount Sandon) had said anything personally discourteous towards him he begged to tender to him his most hearty apologies, because the last person towards whom he should desire to be discourteous would be his Successor in Office, who had always shown the most friendly feeling towards him. After the very handsome way in which the Prime Minister had consented to his application, he should place his Notice of Motion for the Return on the Table to-night, so that it might be moved to-morrow as an unopposed Return, and he would trust to the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade to lay a translation of the document in question before the House as speedily as possible. He trusted that, in future, the error of giving Returns in foreign languages would not be repeated, and that they would have them laid upon the Table in their own old English tongue, of which they were so proud. In conclusion, he begged to be allowed to withdraw his Motion for the Adjournment of the House.


said, he desired to give expression to the feeling of the people of this country, whose industries worn likely to be affected by the new French Tariff, with respect to the importance of their being supplied with an authentic translation of the recently adopted French Tariff. A meeting had lately been held by his constituents at Coventry, which was attended by 2,000 or 3,000 persons, and they had urged him not to allow this subject of the French Tariff to proceed without their being afforded all the information he could obtain for them respecting it. Now, if he sent them the Tariff in French, what would be their answer to him? Why, they would at once turn upon him as the author of the work which he held in his hand, and which he had just brought from the Library, and say to him—"Do you, as the author of The Tariffs of All Nations, translated into English, with the foreign weights, measures, and monies reduced to their English equivalents, expect us to understand this foreign document?" The question was by no means a new one. The unwillingness of the Department of the Board of Trade to furnish this House and the country with information as to foreign Tariffs was an old failing. [Cries of "Order!"]


rose to Order. The hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) was discussing a subject which had been withdrawn, and his conduct in doing so appeared to be approaching the confines of Obstruction.


ruled that the hon. Member for North Warwickshire was in Order.


resuming, said, that from the year 1817 to 1852 he endeavoured to induce the successive Presidents of the Board of Trade to furnish that information as to foreign Tariffs in English; but successive Administrations supported that Department in withholding that information until, in the year 1852—for that system of concealment was practised equally by the Government of Lord Russell and that of the late Lord Derby—he (Mr. Newdegate) stated in that House that he would undertake the task himself. Here, in the volume which he held in his hand, was the result of that undertaking. This work was to be found in the Library of the House. It was as much acknowledged as an authority in the United States as in this country; and he asked whether the House meant again to devolve upon one of its Members, as an individual, a task that ought to be executed by the Foreign Office or the Board of Trade? The work to which he referred was produced in 1855. He (Mr. Newdegate) took it to Lord Palmerston when Prime Minister, and that noble Lord did him the honour of consulting him with respect to the orders which should be issued to the various Embassies of this country for the purpose of continuing the information he (Mr. Newdegate) had condensed up to 1855. Lord Palmerston did more than that, he showed him (Mr. Newdegate) the orders before he issued them; and if the hon. Baronet the Under Secretary of State (Sir Charles W. Dilke) would turn to the records of his Department he would find Lord Palmerston's order for furnishing the information in English, which was issued to every Embassy and every Consulate of this country abroad. That order was signed by Lord Palmerston in his (Mr. Newdegate) presence, and if the Embassy in Paris had not furnished Her Majesty's Government with the information which the noble Viscount the Member for Liverpool (Viscount Sandon) required, the order given by Lord Palmerston when Prime Minister must have been either cancelled or disobeyed. He (Mr. Newdegate) would not have troubled the House, but he thought the House would find itself at a great disadvantage if hon. Members undertook to discuss this matter—the contemplated Commercial Treaty with France—in the dark; in other words, upon imperfect information, or upon data given in a foreign tongue, which the constituents of hon. Members and the people of this country generally did not understand. He held that the production of such documents relating to or descriptive of foreign Tariffs, or negotiations relating to such Tariffs in foreign languages, giving foreign weights and measures and foreign monies unconverted into their English equivalents, was simply inviting this House to debate in the dark; and he now put this question plainly to the hon. Baronet the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs—he asked the hon. Gentleman to inform the House whether the order which he (Mr. Newdegate) had seen Lord Palmerston sign, and which was issued to the Embassies of this country aboad, enjoining them to give accounts of all changes, and of all proposed changes, in the Tariffs of the countries to which they were accredited in English, giving the foreign weights and measures and the foreign monies converted into their English equivalents, had been withdrawn, cancelled, or disobeyed?

No reply was given to the Question.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.


gave Notice that, on Thursday next, he should ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether he would lay upon the Table the tariff àdiscuter, which formed the basis of negotiations as to the French demands?


in reply, said, that he would prefer to answer the Question at once. At the last meeting of the High Commissioners on Saturday they had asked their French Colleagues whether the Protocol of the proposed Tariff was a document which might be made public now, or whether it was still to be concealed, as the English Commissioners had no object in concealing any of the documents. The French Commissioners then stated that the negotiations were not at an end, but were merely suspended for some weeks. And they invited the English Commissioners to resume the negotiations in Paris at the end of a month; and they added that pending the negotiations the Protocols and-the conventional Tariff were still confidential documents.