HC Deb 25 January 1897 vol 45 cc377-8
SIR HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield Central)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if the new Commercial Secretaries to European Embassies have taken possession of their posts, and if at every Embassy or Legation within the group of countries assigned to each Commercial Secretary a Secretary or Attaché will be assigned the duty of acting as assistant and correspondent to the Commercial Secretary when absent; and, if Lord Salisbury's instructions to the Commercial Secretaries can be laid upon the Table, as well as the provisions for the, immediate publication to the mercantile community of this country of the information they obtain?


Mr. Austin Lee has for some time been discharging his duties as Commercial Attaché at Paris. The Commercial Attachés to be stationed at Berlin and Madrid respectively have been appointed and are about to take up their new posts. The Ambassador or Minister will in each case decide, in consultation with the Commercial Attaché, what are the most suitable arrangements to be made for the transaction of commercial work in the absence of the latter; but it will probably be better to allow some elasticity in making these arrangements than to have any fixed plan in advance. The instructions to the Commercial Attachés will be laid in a Parliamentary Paper, which it is proposed shortly to present, showing the steps that have recently been taken for the assistance of British trade. No written regulations exist as to the immediate publication of commercial information, but arrangements have for some time been in force in the Foreign Office and at the Board of Trade for giving prompt publicity to any news of interest to the mercantile community.

Mr. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)

asked whether Mr. Austin Lee had had an opportunity of visiting, or had visited, any of the other countries besides France to which his commercial business applied?


Yes; under our revised scheme for Commercial Attachéships the sphere of Mr. Austin Lee's operations is France and Belgium, and Mr. Lee is, I believe, acquainted with Belgium as well as France.


He has not been in Belgium.