HC Deb 01 March 1881 vol 258 cc1944-5

asked the Secretary to the Treasury, Whether any, and, if so, what arrangements have been made to afford facilities and meet the requirements of British exhibitors at the forthcoming International Exhibition of Electrical Apparatus at Paris?


Sir, It is not intended, to appoint a Commission for the purposes named by the hon. Member. The Government has never yet undertaken the task of affording facilities to British exhibitors at foreign exhibitions of a special character. Past experience in connection with international exhibitions of a general character has shown that there is no kind of expenditure more difficult to keep within bounds. The expenditure so incurred has varied between the limits of £28,000 spent in connection with the exhibition at Vienna, and £115,000 spent on that of Paris in 1867. Although the expenditure upon exhibitions of a special character would, doubtless, be of a very much smaller amount, it would be equally difficult to control; and if the precedent were once to be set it would be impossible for the Government to refuse equal facilities in the case of the numerous exhibitions of a similar character that will, doubtless, be held hereafter. In coming to the conclusion that they have done the Government in no way wishes to disparage the importance of the proposed exhibition. Upon the contrary, they recognize its great interest, and the Postmaster General has been authorized to accept the invitation which has been addressed to him to exhibit specimens of telegraph appliances, both past and present. Delegates will also be sent from the Post Office to take part in the Congress of Electricians, which will be held at the same time as the exhibition. I may add that there is nothing to prevent the formation of a Committee to afford facilities to British exhibitors, as was done on the occasion of the Brussels Exhibition, and on some others when the Government took no direct part, and I hope that such a Committee may be formed.