HC Deb 09 February 1899 vol 66 cc324-5
MR. MARKS (Tower Hamlets, St. George's)

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whether consular reports can be made more useful to the manufacturers, merchants, writers for the Press, and the other persons for whom they are prepared, by the practice of greater celerity in their compilation and publication, and by organisation of the contents of the reports, so that the most important statistics and items of information relating to industry and commerce may be co-ordinated in the various reports; whether, to achieve this purposes, the Foreign Office will furnish consuls with model or skeleton reports, accompanied by instructions, by which means the desired uniformity and completeness may be attained; and whether, in framing a model, the Foreign Office will be guided in a measure by the excellent reports and system of rapid publication which characterise the consular service of the United States?


The utmost pains are taken to secure the earliest practicable publication of these Reports, and the average time occupied between their receipt and issue is under a month. In this respect the British Reports compare very favourably with those of the United States; and a paper comparing the Reports of the two countries with regard to rapidity of issue, completeness of indexes, quantity and quality of information, will be found as Appendix 14 to the Report of the Commercial Intelligence Committee, which was laid on the Table of the House last Session. The Commercial Intelligence Bureau which it is contemplated to create as the result of the recommendations of the Committee above referred to, will, I trust, secure the marshalling of the facts in the manner desired by my honourable Friend. As regards the form of the Reports and the directions as to their compilation, very full and complete instructions, accompanied by skeleton tables and returns, have for some time past been in the hands of Her Majesty's Consuls. These instructions are revised and supplemented from time to time as occasion requires.