§ MR. HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies if the several colonies of the British Empire are entitled to enter into negotiations with Foreign Powers to conclude with them independent Treaties of Commerce, or if such matters are left exclusively to the care and conduct of the Imperial Government; and, in the latter case, bearing in mind the declarations to Sir Alexander Galt and the Dominion Government of the late Lord Carnarvon in 1878, and of Lord Kimberley in 1881, which were interpreted by General Laurie, M.P., in the Canadian House of Commons, on the 21st of April last, " to be a Charter to the Colonies, authorising them to have a voice in all Treaties made with Foreign Powers in which colonial interests are concerned," if steps will be taken to ascertain from the representative Governments in Canada, Australasia, and South Africa, and the Chambers of Commerce in India and other British Possessions, if in their views the Treaties now being reviewed by a Government Committee are susceptible of any extension or modification for the advancement of trade between the United Kingdom and the colonies, and between the colonies and Foreign Powers?
THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIESH. de WORMS, Liverpool, East Toxteth)
It has been the practice for the Imperial Government alone to conclude Commercial Treaties of Commerce with Foreign Powers, but on special occasions the representatives of the colonies have been consulted or admitted to take part in the negotiations. In regard to the latter part of the question of the hon. Member, it is not proposed to ascertain the views of representative Governments, or of Chambers of Commerce in India and other British Possessions until the Government have received the Report of the Committee.