HC Deb 13 June 1898 vol 59 cc45-6
MR. PROVAND (Glasgow, Blackfriars)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs when he will lay upon the Table a copy of the despatch sent to the German Government, spontaneously intimating to them that we would not call in question their rights or interest in the province of Shan-tung, or lay down railway communication from Wei-hai-Wei to the interior, and also the reply of the German Government thereto?


The honourable Member was informed by the First Lord of the Treasury on May 5th that Her Majesty's Government do not propose to lay any further Papers on the subject. I have previously informed the honourable Member that the exact text of the declaration made by them has been published both in Germany and in this country; but, in order to remove the suspicion under which he still appears to labour, I am quite ready, if he so desires, to repeat it to him now. The declaration was as follows— England formally declares that, in establishing herself at Wei-hai-Wei, she has no intention of injuring or contesting the rights and interests of Germany in the Province of Shan-tung, or of creating difficulties for her in that province. It is especially understood that England will not construct any railroad communication from Wei-hai-Wei, and the district leased therewith, into the ulterior of the province. The German reply, as I have also previously informed the honourable Member, was merely an acknowledgment of the British Note. But, as he appears to be suspicious on this point also, I will give him, if he desires, the exact words of the German answer. They were— I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of Your Excellency's Note, in which you made the following Declaration in the name of the Government of the Queen. I take note of this Declaration in the name of the Imperial Government.


Why will not the right honourable Gentleman place these Papers on the Table of the House, and why have Members for weeks been kept waiting for information?


For the very simple reason that there was no object in doing so, because, as I have previously pointed out, they had already been published. I have read them out again for the special edification of the honourable Member this evening, and therefore there can be no object in placing them on the Table.