§ MR. W. H. SMITH
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, What precedents exist which would authorise the treatment of grain as contraband of war under neutral flags; and, seeing that a 675 large proportion of the food consumed by the inhabitants of Great Britain is imported from abroad, to inquire whether it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to acquiesce in the declaration of the Government of France that shipments of rice, destined for Chinese ports north of Canton, will be prohibited and treated as contraband of war?
In regard to the first part of this Question, I may say that it was only placed on the Paper this morning.
Well, I only saw it this morning. I have not examined into the history of the interesting, no doubt, but rather complicated and extended question as to precedents with regard to grain as a contraband of war; and I think it right to tell the right hon. Gentleman that I am not disposed to examine into it, for I doubt very much whether it would be advantageous. With regard to the second and principal part of the Question, the answer is that the French have held, in the course of their war with China, that the shipment of rice destined generally to Chinese ports north of Canton would be treated as contraband of war. Her Majesty's Government have thought it their duty to protest against that declaration. The Correspondence on the subject will be laid before Parliament at the earliest convenient moment.