HC Deb 11 March 1886 vol 303 cc446-7

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether there is any objection to laying upon the Table the Papers referred to in the following extract from Lord Randolph Churchill's speech at Manchester on the 3rd instant:— Lord Salisbury, setting aside altogether a Treasury Minute of Mr. Childers, which, to a great extent, cramped the efforts of our agents Abroad for fostering and encouraging British enterprise, sent special instructions to our agents Abroad that they were, on every occasion, to lose no opportunity of assisting British commerce, either in the person of individuals or in the form of co-operative effort; and, whether this statement is correct?


asked, whether the attention of the hon. Gentleman had been drawn to a statement made by a correspondent at Constantinople in The Times of that day to the following effect:— Ever and always the English Representative here sternly and indignantly refuses to give his support to any British subject's demand for a concession.… so much so that the English applicant frequently obtains his end through a foreign Representative, instead of his own, or more frequently is left out in the cold; and, whether this was the case?


I think that the hon. Member can hardly expect me to answer, without Notice, Questions referring to a matter which only appeared in this morning's paper. I would also beg to remind the hon. Member that our Representative, Sir Edward Thornton, has only been at Constantinople for the last fortnight. With regard to the Question of the hon. Baronet, I will take this opportunity of answering a similar Question which my noble Friend the Member for Stratford-upon-Avon Division (Lord William Compton) has put on the Paper. A diligent search has been made; but no trace can be found in the Treasury of the Minute referred to in the speech quoted by the hon. Baronet and the noble Lord. Should such a Minute ever be discovered, I see no objection to its being laid upon the Table; but I fear that I must damp the hopes of hon. Members by reminding them that, as Her Majesty's Agents abroad are entirely under the orders of the Foreign Office, it is hard to see how any such Minute can ever have emanated from the Treasury. With the exception of the Instructions sent to Her Majesty's Representatives in China and Japan— To support British commercial interests where foreign Representatives interfered to their detriment, and which were referred to in the letter addressed by the Foreign. Office to the London Chamber of Commerce on February 22, no Instructions whatever would appear to have been given by the Marquess of Salisbury to our Agents abroad relating to the promotion of British commerce. As to the steps which are being now taken by Her Majesty's present Government, I need only refer to the answer which I gave last Monday on this subject.


In reference to the answer of the hon. Gentleman to the Question of the hon. Baronet, I wish, with the indulgence of the House, on behalf of my noble Friend who is unable to be here this evening, to state that he made the statement with regard to the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Childers) on what he believed to be reliable authority, and he is confident that he can, if necessary, justify the substance.