LORD WILLIAM COMPTON (Warwick, Stratford-upon-Avon)
asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether he is in a position to give to the House any further information respecting the Treasury minute, stated by the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington, in a speech at Manchester on the 4th of March, to have been issued by the present Secretary of the Home Department, when Chancellor of the Exchequer, to the detriment of British trade, and also respecting the special instructions which the noble Lord added had been sent to Her Majesty's Agents abroad, with a view to the encouragement of British commerce?
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. BRYCE) (Aberdeen, S.)
I may confirm the accuracy of the reply which on the 11th instant I gave to the Questions addressed to me by my noble Friend himself, and the hon. Baronet the Member for South St. Pancras (Sir Julian Goldsmid), and I can now positively assert that no such Treasury Minute or Special Instructions to Her Majesty's Agents abroad, as those referred to in the speech of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill), exist. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary (Mr. Childers), who was then Chancellor of the Exchequer, informs me that, so far as he is aware, the only expressions of his which could possibly have given rise to such a statement are words which he used in observations written on certain despatches from Pekin, forwarded to him for his perusal, in which he condemned the interference of Her Majesty's Representatives in cases whore British subjects were attempting to induce Foreign Governments to borrow from them money at exorbitant rates of interest—a practice which he conceived to be most objectionable, especially in the light of our experience in other countries.