HC Deb 01 June 1891 vol 353 cc1400-16


Order for Second Reading read.

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

I wish to draw the attention of the House to a question of some urgency. The House is no doubt aware that there have been points of difference between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of the United States with reference to the Behring Sea fisheries, and that claims have been advanced by the United States which have led to some dispute. It is the desire of Her Majesty's Government that a settlement of an amicable character should be arrived at, although it is impossible for the Government to concur in the claims made by the United States to undisputed possession of the rights of fishing in Behring Sea. I refer to this question in order to indicate generally the reasons which have induced Her Majesty's Government to ask for powers from Parliament under this Bill. A desire has been expressed that the question should be settled by arbitration, and I feel sure that hon. Members in all parts of the House will infinitely prefer that the matter, in which a serious difference of opinion has arisen between the two Governments, should be settled by friendly arbitration rather than by resort to a more barbarous course. We have had communications both with the United States Government and the Government of Canada with the view of arriving at an arrangement by which this question might be settled by means of friendly arbitration. There has been delay in submitting the question to the consideration of Parliament, and that delay has been due to difficulties which I am sure gentlemen who have had any experience must be aware accompany anything like a tripartite negotiation. The delay has been increased by the painful and lamentable circumstances under which the Government of Canada are at the present moment placed. The Prime Minister of Canada is a man who, whatever may be the views which individuals may take of his Party conduct in the past, has earned the respect and the admiration of people of all Parties who have any knowledge whatever of the services which he has rendered to the Dominion and to the Empire at large. There can be but one feeling of deep sorrow that that life, which has been so valuable to Canada, seems now about to come to an end. But the circumstances under which the Government of Canada have been placed during the last two or three weeks have been circumstances of extreme difficulty, and the consent which Her Majesty's Government have received to the proposals which we are now about to make only reached us late last week, in time for the notice which I gave on Thursday in this House. The consent of the Dominion Government is subject to certain conditions, which, as far as the Government are concerned, appear to us to be very reasonable. They say it is reasonable that a ship under the British flag for lawful fishing, as we hold, in the Behring Sea should be compensated for any loss sustained by reason of the prohibition under the proposed Order in Council. We accept that proposal in principle, but it must be remarked that under the Bill which I now place before the House, sealing will not be prohibited in all seas, but simply in the Behring Sea, and the effect will be that there will be a greatly diminished catch of seals, and consequently a great increase of price for sealskins obtained outside the Behring Sea. The proposal is to prohibit sealing north of the Aleutian Island in the Behring Sea, and leave the seal fishery perfectly open to all ships south of those islands and outside the Behring Sea. The prohibition will be simply for a limited time, in order that a sufficient, and no more than a sufficient, period should have elapsed during which it may be possible for the arbitrators to make inquiries as to the necessity for a close time for the seal species, and to make their award or awards. That period, as has been shown by the Papers which have been placed in the Vote Office this afternoon, is named by Mr. Blaine himself as a period extending from May 1, 1892, within which period the arbitrators shall render a final award or awards to their respective Governments. One of the conditions on which the United States Government have insisted is that 7,500 seals should be taken on the Aleutian Islands for the use of the natives who are employed there. Her Majesty's Government at first greatly objected to that proposal, but when we came to examine it more carefully we were obliged to admit that it was reasonable, and it is a condition from which we are now unable to depart. The catch up to a recent period has been as high as 60,000, and it is shown by the Papers now in the possession of the House that the average for the last 20 years on those Islands has been upwards of 90,000 seals per annum. This shows that the United States Government are prepared to make a considerable sacrifice in their endeavour to avert what they believe to be a very serious calamity. Her Majesty's Government do not propose that the Order in Council shall be issued unless Russia also consents to the entire prohibition of seal catching in the Behring Sea. The amount of compensation to be given will be ascertained by a Commission and a careful inquiry on the spot. The arrangements for such a Commission have not yet been completed, but we have reason to hope that Canada will give her assistance in framing proper regulations, and that she will contribute to compensation, the object being the settlement of a question in which she is quite as much interested as we in this country. I do not urge the House to accept this Bill on the ground of absolute right or justice, but on the ground that it is a friendly act towards a friendly Power. We cannot but acknowledge that the claims put forward by the United States are founded on absolute justice, and I am sure no Member of this House would contemplate a misunderstanding with the United States without very great regret and sorrow. Unless the Government can obtain satisfactory conditions, we shall certainly not issue the Order in Council.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. W. H. Smith.)

(5.57.) SIR W. HARCOURT (Derby)

I think the House will have heard with great satisfaction the statement of the right hon. Gentleman with regard to what appears to be a wise and prudent settlement of a very difficult question. The right hon. Gentleman may be quite sure that from this side of the House he will always receive support for any proposals to settle by arbitration questions of this character. It would be a scandal to our times if a question like that of the seal fishery should result in a settlement by force. Indeed, it seems to be a question which, above all others, lends itself to such a solution as that which is about to be adopted. Therefore I have nothing to say, except that we hear with great satisfaction that that course is to be taken for the settlement of this question with the United States. It is also satisfactory to know that the Dominion of Canada is a consenting party to these arrangements, for that seems to be an absolutely essential condition in this matter. I do not enter into smaller details as to compensation. Those are subordinate questions altogether in the settlement of so large a question as this. I desire to associate myself, as will most Members of this House, with the language the right hon. Gentleman has used in reference to the misfortune which has befallen Canada through what I fear I must call the fatal illness of Sir John Macdonald. I hope the Government will receive support from both sides of the House in carrying out this proposal, which I entirely and heartily support.

(5.59.) MR. A. STAVELEY HILL (Staffordshire, Kingswinford)

I am very glad indeed to hear for the first time that the Dominion of Canada assents to this proposal, because we should have very great difficulty in accepting it unless we knew that the Canadian Government was also a willing party. I join in the regret that has been expressed by the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the fatal illness of Sir John Macdonald. As one who has known him for many years, I believe no heavier loss could fall on the great Dominion, of which he is so entirely the embodiment, than that she should lose his wise counsels at the present crisis. And the loss is only less to us who hoped that, after perhaps one or two more busy years, he would take his place in English society, which he was so well qualified to adorn. Two questions suggest themselves as deserving a few words, and the first of these has reference to the question of compensation. I have received from Victoria, British Columbia, a communication in which the consideration of this question is strongly impressed upon me by one of the principal firms engaged in the seal trade, in which they represent that the vessels have been fitted out for the season, that a heavy outlay has been incurred, and that a ruinous loss will be the result if the trade is prohibited without due notice. Of course, this question will have to be considered, and what I would press upon the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs is that he should tell us the mode in which this compensation is to be dealt with. The average catch of each vessel inside the Behring Sea must be considered. I do not quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman as to the diminution in the number of seals. I am aware that Mr. Elliot speaks of the diminution of the number of seals, but I made this the subject of careful inquiry when I was in British Columbia last year; and I believe that at the present time these have passed along the Pacific headlands, and that when the usual time comes round there will be found in the Behring Sea more seals than ever there were before. Last year the catch was small in consequence of the continual fog and bad weather, but I heard on all hands that the number of seals seen in the sea was greater than was ever known. Although the diminution in the number of the seals is the alleged ground for this agreement, I do not believe that it is the real ground. The Pribyloff Islands, in the Behring Sea, have been let by the United States to a commercial company at a larger price than the company can afford to pay unless the supply of sealskins in the market is diminished, and this is the real ground for the proposed suspension of sealing. I do not object to a close time, and I regret that a close time should not apply-outside the Behring Sea. The seals go south about the month of October, but they are about this time travelling north at the rate of about 10 or 12 knots an hour to get on shore on the islands in the Behring Sea, and the slaughter to be prevented is that on the islands. The killing, if it is to be stopped, should be stopped inside and outside the Behring Sea, so that no sealskins should go into the market. I confess I do not quite see how the Pribyloff Islands are to be watched, and I am sure a great deal of watching will be required to prevent the smuggling of sealskins. The seals coming north land in great numbers on the coast of British Columbia and the Queen Charlotte Islands, the cows in calf being ready to bring forth their young. I venture to say here that my words may be placed on record that the wish of all sealers in British Columbia is that there should be a close time for all sealing, and that no seals should be killed between the 1st of October and the 30th of June. The time for killing seals should be the months of July, August, and September. I sincerely trust that the arbitration may result in a satisfactory arrangement.

(6.10.) MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)

I most heartily approve the general principle on which Her Majesty's Government have endeavoured to deal with this very difficult question, but there are one or two points on which it would be well to have a little farther information. In the first place, I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that the Government believe that the assent of three nations only is necessary to these proceedings, the three nations being Great Britain, the United States, and Russia. But when I was in the United States I gathered that another flag had appeared in the Behring Sea—the German Flag— and it would be well for the Government to find out whether there is not another maritime nation equally interested in this matter. I am not quite certain whether I correctly understood the First Lord of the Treasury when he declared the nature of the arbitration which is to be undertaken during the period covered by the close time. There are to be 12 months in which seals are not to be taken, and this period is to be utilised for the arbitration. But did the right hon. Gentleman say that the subject for arbitration was agreed upon, and that that subject was the precautions to be taken to secure the continued existence of the seal? If that is so, I suppose the American Government have withdrawn those very startling claims which seemed to involve a claim for almost exclusive jurisdiction in the great ocean known as Behring Sea. Are we now clear of that demand or claim on the part of the United States, and is the arbitration to be confined to the purely commercial and scientific question of the precautions to be taken for the preservation of the seal? Compensation is, after all, a minor point; but, as usual, it is the purse of Great Britain that is expected to bear the burden. I think our position is rather a hard one. The hon. Member for Staffordshire said that Canada had as much interest in this matter as we have. I should say, on the contrary, that Canada has the whole interest, or, rather, that she shares it with the United States. Our interests in the matter are only those of general peace. I protest altogether against the suggestion made by my hon. and learned Friend as to the basis on which compensation is to be paid. If a claim for compensation is to be considered, I hope that it will be most closely looked into, because I happen to know that many of these vessels who will claim compensation are really American vessels, furnished with American money, and, though to some extent manned by Canadians, almost entirely an American interest. They are merely worked under the British Flag against the claims of the United States Government. The position is rather a hard one for this country. Taking the three parties to these negotiations, the United States have sufficiently protected their interests. They will have no compensation to pay, because they have arranged that no fewer than 7,500 seals shall be taken by their company, thereby rendering compensation unnecessary. The Canadian Government have not, it appears, absolutely agreed to join us in compensation, though I think that they ought to pay a large proportion of whatever is paid. But I also think that when the subject comes to be carefully examined the amount of compensation to which these people are justly entitled will be found to be excessively small. I hope that nothing at all will be paid unless it can be clearly shown that the ownership of the vessel is a British interest. In sitting down, knowing personally Sir John Macdonald, I desire to join in the general expression of opinion from both sides of the House as to the international loss which his death would involve.

(6.18.) MR. G. OSBORNE MORGAN (Denbighshire, E.)

I hope there will be a general agreement to the Second Reading of the Bill. In the general principle I agree, bat there are one or two points upon which I should like to have a little information. The question of compensation my right hon. Friend has alluded to as a minor point, but it is a minor point of very considerable importance. The Papers published do not throw any light upon the question, because they consist almost solely of correspondence between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of the United States. I should like to know by whom is this compensation to be paid? The right hon. Gentleman said nothing about that. No doubt Canada will get the chief benefit of the agreement, but in what way is the compensation to be paid? The Bill says nothing about it. The right hon. Gentleman has spoken of a Commission, and I presume he meant a Joint Commission of the Home and Canadian Governments. Before we pass from the subject, it would be well, I think, that we should have some light thrown upon the possible obligations which the measure may involve. Perhaps the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs will tell us by whom this compensation is to be paid, and the mode in which it is to be assessed?

(6.20.) SIR G. BADEN-POWELL (Liverpool, Kirkdale)

I cordially approve of the Bill, and hope it is a step in the right direction for carrying out the suggestion made by the President of the United States in 1888—a first step in the direction of establishing in the North Pacific, for the sake of the seals, a sort of international administration of all the Powers interested. I should like to hear that when the arbitration takes place, the same course will be pursued as was adopted in the case of the North Sea Fisheries Convention, and that a clause will be agreed to by the nations parties to the Convention, regarding it as an unfriendly act for other Powers sending or permitting their vessels to fish there, and not agreeing to the Convention. The suggestion of my hon. and learned Friend that the Bill should apply to the waters of the Pacific outside Behring Sea does not seem to be important, inasmuch as the seals are already well up towards the hauling-out grounds, and the Bill will not affect seals outside Behring Sea. I should like to know, however, what is to become of the seals killed on the islands belonging to Russia, because that is a very important matter? Are they to be brought within the arrangement? I may be allowed to add my word of deep regret at the severe illness of Sir John Macdonald, and my hope that there may yet be spared the life of one who has done so much for Canada and the Empire.

SIR G. CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)

I acquiesce in the Second Reading of the Bill. I have every confidence in the foreign administration of the Government, and I trust a modus vivendi will be agreed upon, under arbitration, which we shall be glad to see applied to this and other questions. So far as anything in the Bill is concerned, I have not a word to say; but in regard to the question of compensation, I must reserve my liberty of action. What I desired to say upon this point has been said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain). We are not to consider ourselves bound, in assenting to the Second Reading of this Bill, to accept anything beyond what is contained in the Bill. We are not binding ourselves to accept the principle that compensation shall be paid by the British taxpayer. I have not the least objection to the principle of compensation. It may be a minor matter, but it involves a principle which has been much abused by making the British taxpayer pay to get out of all sorts of difficulties, and especially has this been the case in relation to our self-governing colonies. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham has said, it is the interest of Canada that is chiefly concerned. So far as this country is concerned, we might let the whole thing go. We act, however, in the interest of Canada and in the interest of peace. There was a somewhat equivocal expression used by the First Lord in relation to this question of compensation. He said we accepted the principle, and he hoped that Canada would contribute towards it. Now, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham has rightly put it the other way—that if there is a question of compensation, it should primarily be paid by Canada; and if we should contribute towards it, it is quite another thing to going hat in hand to Canada asking for a Canadian, contribution. Therefore, I protest against the idea that, by reading the Bill a second time, we are assenting to the principle that compensation is to be paid by the British taxpayer.

(6.25.) MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)

We understand from the statement of the First Lord of the Treasury that this Bill is one which is not intended to deal in any way with the general question raised between this country and the United States, but is merely to establish a modus vivendi till next year, and, meantime, inquiries will be made and arbitration proceedings will be going on. I have, therefore, no intention of discussing the general question; but I may say in passing, having read all the Papers, that we on this side of the House have no objection to make to the way in which the Foreign Office has sustained the rights of this country and Canada in this matter. Throughout the negotiations, sometimes very difficult in their nature, the Foreign Office has maintained a clear and firm attitude. The judgment, firmness, and masterly grasp of the facts and principles involved which have been shown by Sir Julian Pauncefote at Washington are entitled to the very highest praise, and are such as everybody who knows his great abilities expected from him. I may say that this question is considered of less practical importance in the United States, than from reading American newspapers, one might suppose. Those who have had personal experience in the States will agree with me that the question of the rights of the United States in Behring Sea is one that presents great difficulty; and a very large number of leading juridical authorities in America —indeed, the majority of them—differ entirely from the line taken by the Secretary of State there, and express their view that his leading contention is wrong. This, no doubt, has had value and weight in calming the attitude of public opinion in America. It should also be remembered that in this matter the contention maintained has been not so much in the interest of Canadian shipowners as of American owners sailing their vessels under the British Flag. I was in British Columbia last autumn, and I did not ascertain that local feeling was very strong on the matter. I was informed there and in the United States that a considerable number of vessels were owned in San Francisco, and even manned by Americans, though sailing under the British Flag. That, however, makes no difference in the right of Canada, and our duty to sustain that right. This question has bearings and applications far beyond those which arise immediately under the Bill; and it is the duty of Her Majesty's Government to sustain the claim of Canada to absolute freedom in sailing and fishing and using the North Pacific and Behring Sea in every other way. The Bill has two objects—to prevent any collision that might arise between the crews of our vessels and American vessels or cruisers, and also to preserve the seals and to maintain this important branch of industry. In spite of what has been said by the hon. and. learned Gentleman opposite, no one who has read the evidence bearing on the destruction of seal life can doubt that the case is very serious. Reports not only of the American Treasury agents, but also of Mr. Elliott, the scientific expert, and others, go to show that the number of seals has been very seriously diminished by the methods in which seal-hunting has been carried on; and there is considerable risk of the stock being diminished year by year until the trade disappears, unless a close time is established. The devastation wrought among the seals in earlier times, and when the appliances for the purpose were much less perfect than they are now, induced the Russian Government to absolutely prohibit the slaughter for a time, to enable the stock of seals to recover. I think a strong case might be made out for the intervention of all the Governments concerned. It appears also, from reports we have received, that an unusually large number of the seals killed last season were females, and this is a fact of importance, showing the necessity of instituting a close time. I rather regret that the American Secretary of State should have insisted on the right to kill 7,500 seals on the Pribyloff Islands, because the evidence goes to show there ought to be a complete cessation of killing for a time; but, considering the importance of all the interests involved, Her Majesty's Government were not wrong in accepting this compromise. No doubt during the time the modus vivendi is in force, inquiries will be made which will result in the arrangement of a close time in the future, and I hope the Canadian Authorities will have every opportunity of stating their case. There are one or two questions that arise in relation to the Bill. It has been stated that Canada assents, and of course it would not be possible for us to proceed without the consent of the colony; but I should like to know whether Canada intends to legislate. I should also like to know whether the Order in Council is to be applied by British vessels, or legislative action is also to be taken by Canada; also what is the state of the negotiations with Russia. The right hon. Gentleman said it is intended not to issue an Order in Council until Russia agrees. I suppose the Under Secretary will be able to say how far the negotiations with that country, which had advanced some way in 1888, have progressed; and whether there is reason to believe that Russia will not only join in prohibiting the slaughter in the Behring Sea, but also stop it on her own Islands, because it must be remembered that if the killing of seals is prohibited in one place the price of sealskins will be raised, and so there will be an additional incentive to go on killing them elsewhere. I also hope that the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs will give us some information with regard to the general character of the matters to be referred to arbitration between the United States and ourselves. I wish I could think with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham that the scientific question alone really remains to be settled. But as I understand the Papers, no conclusion has been arrived at as to what is to form the subject of arbitration in the matter of the claims of America generally. Mr. Blaine, I understand, still insists on the claims he has put forward as to the special rights of America in regard to the taking of seals. It is desirable that we should know what are the terms of the arbitration, and on what topics it is to take place; whether the arbitrators have been selected, or when they will be; also whether Her Majesty's Government have yet arrived at a conclusion about a close time. I think we must all feel that the application of the principle of arbitration to this case is a result of which not only we ourselves, but also the people of Canada and of the United States, have every reason to be glad; it is eminently a question for arbitration, because it is not one of disputed facts, but of law. So far as the United States is concerned, it is purely a question of law, and the question as to the preservation of the seals is one of scientific fact. It is just one of those questions to which the principle of arbitration can be applied. I am sure we all hope that the result will be to confirm good feeling between this country and the United States, whom both interest and sentiment induce us to regard as allies with whom we must always desire to be on terms of cordial friendship.


Her Majesty's Government have every reason to be gratified by the reception which this Bill has met in this House, and especially gratified that there has been a general, agreement to refrain from recurring to those points of difference which have been so prominent during the long negotiations on this question. I will endeavour in a few words to reply to the questions which have been put to the Government, some of which, I think, were anticipated by the statement of the First Lord of the Treasury. The hon. Member for Staffordshire has said that he would be glad to know whether the consent of Canada has actually been given. There is no doubt that the Government of Canada has expressed its consent to the arrangement to which effect is proposed to be given by this Bill, only attaching two conditions—first, that there shall be compensation provided for those who will suffer by it; and, second, that the terms of the arbi- tration shall be accepted by the United States Government. The communications with the Government of Canada have naturally been only semi-official owing to the present lamentable condition of the Premier of the colony, but the House may be quite sure that the interests of the British revenue will be carefully guarded by Her Majesty's Government. Her Majesty's Government must be responsible primarily, but there are conditions which must be considered on behalf of the British taxpayer before any settlement can be made with, regard to compensation, and there are many elements which enter into the question. For instance, there is the question of the actual loss which may be sustained by British subjects, and the extent to which that loss may be recouped by successful fishing elsewhere. Those will be matters for consideration by the Commission.


May I ask whether there will be a Joint Commission?


That and other matters of detail have not yet been settled. The hon. Member for Staffordshire has expressed a doubt as to the actual diminution of seals. No doubt there is testimony that the number of seals swimming across the sea has not diminished, but, on the other hand, I agree with the hon. Member for Aberdeen that nobody can read the expert evidence that has been submitted to us without being convinced that there has been a very large diminution in the number of seals resorting to the Islands. In former years I unfortunately have had reason to become acquainted with the result of the enormous killing of seals in the Southern seas. From Islands to which seals used to resort in large numbers in years gone by they have now entirely disappeared, and we feel that, while we must be desirous to remove causes of international difficulty, we can not be insensible either to the damage done to an important article of commerce or to the enormous inhumanity of wholesale and unrestricted destruction of seal life. I will not notice particularly what the hon. Member for Staffordshire said as to the sinister motives that might be ascribed to the consent of the American Government. The American Government will lose fully £100,000 in the present year by the diminution of the take, as they have a lien of 10 dollars on every sealskin. No doubt, as has been suggested, it would be very desirable to have a more extensive close time, and that it should extend to the coast of British Columbia. That will, I think, in all probability, be one of the matters submitted to arbitration. The arbitrators will not only have to do with the legal rights under Treaty of this country and Canada and the United States, but also with the measures desirable to be taken for the preservation of seal life. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham has reminded us that another flag has appeared in the Behring Sea. That is a matter which will receive careful examination, and the consent of the German Government will, if necessary, be invited. The hon. Member for Aberdeen has asked how far negotiations with Russia have gone. Overtures have been made to the Russian Government; the reply has not yet been received; but there is good reason to suppose that the overtures will be favourably received and the consent of Russia obtained. In former years the Russian Government itself found it necessary on three occasions to stop the taking of seals altogether on the shores of the Behring Sea, on account of the enormous diminution of the seals caused by wholesale destruction; and we may fairly expect that the Russian Government will bear this fact in mind. With regard to the manner in which compensation is to be paid, I must reserve to the Government the consideration of those details, which must be considered in connection with the Order in Council. The hon. Member for Aberdeen justly recognised that the Bill is a temporary expedient to meet the mischievous effects of recent proceedings, pending the solution of the larger question involved. It is true that Her Majesty's Government assented with reluctance to the proposal of the American Government that the American sealers should take 7,500 seals in the present year. That, with some other matters of detail, we shall overlook. It is better that we should overlook some matters which We might wish different rather than imperil the success of a measure which will tend to remove the international difficulty and settle it for all time on satisfactory grounds. Undoubtedly the degree of right that passed from Russia to the United States will be a matter for consideration by the arbitrators.


May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman means that the matter involved in the action now pending before the Supreme Court of the United States will come before the arbitrators?


The case of the H. P. Sayward involves a question of law and has been instituted by a private individual. I draw a clear distinction between the international question and the question of municipal law which is involved in the seizure of the vessel in the case mentioned. The House must not understand that any official decision has been arrived at in respect to the matters to be referred to arbitration. The question is still the subject of correspondence between the two Governments, but they have been steadily approaching a point of agreement, and I believe that the reply that is about to be addressed to the United States Government will bring the two Governments so close together that a harmonious settlement of the matter at issue will be arrived at.

CAPTAIN BETHELL (York, E.R., Holderness)

I hope that, whatever matters are submitted to arbitration, the interests of this country will be properly safeguarded. I trust that those matters in regard to which Lord Salisbury, in various despatches, seems to have had no doubt as to the rights of this country will not be submitted to arbitration. I doubt if they can be submitted to arbitration in the same sense as the question of a close time for seals can be submitted to arbitration. I think the statement of the right hon. Gentleman would have been more satisfactory if he had been able to say to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham and the Member for Aberdeen that the extraordinary claims of the United States will not be submitted to arbitration.


I would assure my hon. and gallant Friend that the interests of this country will be most carefully safeguarded in the terms of the submission to arbitration to which the Government has agreed. No claims which are believed to be untenable will be admitted. I will only ask the House now to leave the management of these difficult negotiations in the hands of those whose duty it is to conduct them.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a second time, and committed for to-morrow.