§ MR. PICTON (Leicester)
I beg to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the delegates appointed to represent Her Majesty's Government at the Conference invited by the United States "to consider by what means, if any, the use of silver can be increased in the currency system of the nations," will be permitted to treat the adoption by this country of a legal fixed ratio between gold and silver as an open question?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN,) St. George's, Hanover Square
I think I may inform the hon. Member that it would be contrary to precedent and also to expediency that a premature declaration should be made as to instructions to be given to delegates at any Conference appointed to represent this country. I am unable to inform the hon. Member what instructions will be given, and I may further add Her Majesty's Government have not yet themselves considered the precise terms of the instructions.
§ MR. PICTON
Will the right hon. Gentleman kindly say when I might with propriety ask the question? When the instructions have been given, will he allow the question to be asked?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I think the hon. Member will find that in the past the practice has been observed not to make known the instructions to delegates while the Conference is sitting. Suppose negotiations were going on and our delegates were instructed to obtain some particular solution, the realisation of this solution might be compromised if 825 those taking part in the Conference knew precisely the instructions given to our delegates. Confidence must be reposed in Her Majesty's Government, the House, of course, being at liberty to disallow any arrangements that may be come to.