§ MR. YERBURGH (Chester)
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Société d'Etude des Chemins de Fer en Chine, otherwise the Franco-Belgian Syndicate, has, in the event of the contract with the American syndicate for the Canton-Han-kau line falling to the ground, a preferential right to obtain the said contract; whether Sir Claude Macdonald in October last requested the Tsung-li-Yamen to give the first refusal of the said contract to the Anglo-Eastern syndicate in the event of the agreement concluded with the American syndicate coming to an end from any cause; whether he can say how it is the Anglo-Eastern syndicate failed to obtain the right which they applied for, and why it was given to the Franco-Belgian syndicate; and whether such a proceeding is in accordance with the claims put forward by the Government on behalf of Great Britain in the Yang-tsze region?
§ MR. BRODRICK
have no information that the Belgian syndicate has acquired any reversionary rights in connection with the Han-kau-Canton line. 709 Sir C. Macdonald requested the Chinese Government to negotiate first with the Anglo-Eastern syndicate in the event of the abandonment from any cause of the American agreement, to which the Yamen replied that in such event they would consider and deal with the matter.
§ MR. YERBURGH
May I ask the right honourable Gentleman whether he is aware that the Franco-Belgian syndicate stated in their prospectus that they had obtained that privilege?
§ [No Reply.]