HC Deb 07 July 1881 vol 263 c244

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether, following the precedent of 1872, when M. Kindt was present as the representative of Belgium at the discussions in Paris between the British and French Commissioners to settle the Compensatory Duties, Her Majesty's Government will take steps to secure that a representative of England shall be present at the Conferences about to be held to discuss the terms of Commercial Treaties between France and Belgium, and between France and other countries?


I would beg leave to point out to the hon. Member that there is no precedent in the case of the negotiations in 1872 for what he proposes should be done now. When M. Kindt was present at the discussions between the British and French Commissioners in that year, a Treaty between this country and France had already been signed, and it was considered that the presence of a well-qualified and impartial Belgian official would facilitate an agreement as to the rates of the Compensatory Duties. In the present case, however, no Treaty has been signed; and I can hardly think it probable that the French Government would consent to the unusual, if not unprecedented, course which the hon. Member proposes.