§ MR. CHARLES McARTHUR (Liverpool, Exchange)
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can approximately state the time when he expects to be in a position to make an announcement with respect to the negotiations with the French Government for the settlement of the claims of British merchants in French Congo, and for the interpretation of the Free Trade Clauses of the Berlin Act.
§ THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Earl PERCY, Kensington, S.)
As regards the general question, His Majesty's Government understand the position of the French Government to be that they are ready to submit it to arbitration, but that they have not yet decided upon the terms of reference. As regards the claims of the British firms, it was not until last May that the direct negotiations between the British and French merchants were finally abandoned, and the French Government have not yet communicated the results of the investigation which has been made into the subject by the authorities at the Colonial Office. They have, however, expressed a great desire to discover some means of effecting a 234 reasonable arrangement with the British firms concerned.
§ MR. AUSTIN TAYLOR (Liverpool, E. Toxteth)
Were not these claims considered during the negotiations which ended in the Anglo-French Convention?