HC Deb 02 September 1887 vol 320 cc917-9
DR. CLARK (Caithness)

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Why the word "England" is used in the Treaty with China, just issued, instead of "Great Britain? "

MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)

also asked, Whether in the Convention between Her Majesty and His Majesty the Emperor of China, relative to Burmah and Thibet, of 24th July, 1886, in Articles 1, 2, 3, and 4, the name of "England" alone is mentioned as one of the contracting parties; whether the separate use of the name '' England" in diplomatic documents intended to bind the United Kingdom meets his approval; and, whether such usage is consistent with the terms of the Act of Union between England and Scotland?

THE FIRST LORD (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)

The Correspondence relative to the Treaty with China to which my attention has been called by the hon. Members was carried on by telegraph. The Preamble of the Treaty states it is between Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress of India, and His Majesty the Emperor of China. In Articles 1, 2, and 4 England appears as the agreeing party. The term '' Great Britain" or "the United Kingdom" would, no doubt, have been the correct term to use; and had there been time to refer the text of the draft Convention home before the signature the text would have been amended accordingly. Time was an object, however; and as the text was approved by the Emperor of China the Convention was laid as signed.


asked, whether the right hon. Gentleman was aware that the use of the word "England" in such a connection was a direct breach of Article 1 of the Act of Union between Scotland and England?


said, it was only a telegraphic error, or rather the inadvertent adoption of the one word used for brevity in telegraphing; but, as the Treaty had been ratified, the error could not be corrected. Undoubtedly there had been no intention whatever either to violate the Union or to do any violence to the just susceptibilities of the hon. Gentleman opposite.

MR. M. J. KENNY (Tyrone, Mid.)

When the right hon. Gentleman says that either "Great Britain" or "the United Kingdom "would be the proper term to use, does he recognize no difference between the terms?


The short term was used, and the diplomatists ought to have amended it. There was no intention whatever to depart from the usual language.


Will the Treaty be amended, or do the Government take upon themselves the responsibility of signing a Treaty which is contrary to Act of Parliament, and persisting in so doing after their attention has been called to it?


The Treaty is signed and ratified, and therefore it cannot be altered. The error, which I regret, cannot be corrected unless we go through the process of renouncing a Treaty which is desired by all parties.

MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)

May I ask, is it a fact that the Treaty was drafted by an Irishman — Mr. O'Connor?


I believe so, Sir.