HC Deb 08 April 1907 vol 172 cc15-6

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been directed to the surprise and disappointment generally expressed in France at the Government's opposition to the Channel Tunnel scheme; has he received any communications from the French Government in the same sense; and can he assure the House that the cordiality of the entente with France is not impaired.


My right hon. friend has received no communication from the French Government on the subject, but he understands that the reasons for our reluctance to sanction the scheme are well understood and entirely appreciated in Prance. And he would draw the attention of the hon. Member to the statement of the Prime Minister that:— "His Majesty's Government fully recognise the deep concern felt in this matter, and have no other desire than to take the House fully into their confidence, even in anticipation of the early stages of the Bill. Briefly I may say that our view of the public interest leads us to be opposed to this project of a tunnel. Even supposing the military dangers involved were to be amply guarded against, there would exist throughout the country a feeling of insecurity which might lead to a constant demand for increased expenditure, naval and military, and a continual risk of unrest and possibly alarm, which, however unfounded, would be most injurious in its effect, whether political or commercial. On the other hand, there has not been disclosed any such prospect of advantage to the trade and industries of the country as would compensate for those evils. As to the personal convenience of passengers and the transit of light articles, it seems well that further consideration should be given to other means of conveyance, such as are used in the ferries across great channels of the sea in other parts of the world. These considerations lead us, while rejoicing in any thing that facilitates free communication with our neighbours, to view this project with disfavour." It is quite out of the question that such a statement could have any unfavourable consequences.