HC Deb 04 June 1891 vol 353 cc1615-6
MR. HANBURY (Preston)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been called to a letter recently read before the North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce from Her Majesty's Consul at Frankfort on the Maine, suggesting his employment as a private salaried agent of the Chambers of Commerce to communicate information to them affecting the interests of British trade in Germany, and whether such a proposal had the approval of the Foreign Office; whether it is already a chief part of the consular duties to transmit such information for the general use of the public; whether, however, there are in fact no paid Consuls to perform such duties in so important a country as Germany, and there is only one paid commercial attaché for all Europe, except Russia; and, whether it is proposed to remedy this state of things by allowing consuls to act as private salaried agents reporting to special employers, instead of employing more paid consuls or commercial attaches to look after and report publicly upon the general interests of British trade?


The Consul referred to is unpaid, and is therefore free to carry on private business. The suggestion he lately made to Chambers of Commerce was to afford to their members information on matters beyond his consular duties; agency business of this nature is legitimate in his position, and there could be no objection to it on the part of the Foreign Office. There are now three salaried British Consuls in Germany—at Dantzic, Hamburg, and Stettin; allowances for office expenses are made to the Consul General at Frankfort, the Consul at Dűsseldorf, and also to seven Vice Consuls. The commercial attaché for Europe, who resides at Paris, was long resident in Germany, and is fully conversant with German commercial subjects, and can visit that country whenever public interests require him to do so. The Royal Commission on Public Establishments did not consider the existing arrangements in Germany inadequate for the general interests of British trade, and there is no present intention of altering them.


I beg to give notice that on the Foreign Office Vote I shall call attention to the inadequate representation of British interests abroad, and move a reduction.