HC Deb 26 July 1898 vol 62 cc1329-30

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many British consuls and attachés have been appointed for China, and the amount of salaries that are paid to same for watching British commercial interests; and whether he is. aware that in no case is the salary sufficient to provide for such attaché without his engaging in trade; and. whether he will, considering the great interests at stake, appoint extra commercial attachés who shall devote the whole of their time to furthering the development of British trade in China?


The honourable Member must have been altogether misinformed with regard to the China consular service. There are British consuls at all the chief ports in China, with salaries ranging from £800 to £1,200 a year. The total strength of the consular service in China, including assistants and student interpreters, is 75, and the salaries paid to them yearly amount to £44,350. They are all appointed to watch British commercial interests, which they do very efficiently, as is shown by their annual reports; and they are not permitted to engage in trade. Perhaps if as much attention were paid to the perusal of these reports by merchants in this country as is done to their preparation by the consuls in China, British, trade might be perceptibly the gainer. In reply to the concluding Question, Her Majesty's Consul General at Shanghai has been appointed Commercial Attaché for China, but the question, of the appointment of a separate commercial attaché who would be able to devote his whole time to commercial matters is at present under consideration.