HC Deb 02 July 1903 vol 124 c1189

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury if he will consider the desirability of appointing a Select Committee to ascertain the results of commercial retaliation as applied in recent years between the larger foreign Powers, notably between France and Italy, France and Switzerland, Germany and Russia.


I have considered my hon. friend's Question, and I do not think that the inquiry which he suggests is really a practicable one. After all, what he means, and what I mean, by commercial retaliation is the power either to give or to withhold something from a Power with whom you are bargaining. Now, I do not see how you are going to discuss the question whether Germany has gained, as against Austria and Russia, by having something to give or withhold in her commercial negotiations, nor whether Austria has had a similar advantage in her bargains with Germany and Russia, nor whether Russia has had it in her bargains with Germany and Austria. Nor do I see what kind of witnesses could with advantage be called before a Select Committee and cross-examined. The Government are, however, asking for reports as to the history of negotiations in these various countries, and I shall be glad to supply my hon. friend or any one else who desires it with all the information we may obtain on the subject.