HC Deb 10 June 1907 vol 175 cc1078-9
MR. ALDEN (Middlesex, Tottenham)

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade if he can furnish the House with information as to the instructions issued to the consular service by the Foreign Office; whether a merchant in the United Kingdom applying for assistance to a British consul on the Continent is referred to the Board of Trade instead of being communicated with direct; if so, whether ho can give any reasons for issuing such an instruction; and whether he has, in drawing up these instructions, taken into account the success of the consular service of the United States.


The Answer to the second part of the Question is in the negative. It is desirable that British traders should, before addressing inquiries †See(4)Debates,clxxv.,668 to His Majesty's Consular officers, ascertain from the Commercial Intelligence Branch of the Board of Trade whether the information is available there. Consular officers supply this branch with information in order that it may be generally and quickly available. When a Consular officer receives a direct inquiry from a British merchant he forwards his reply through this branch, which transmits it to its destination after taking note of its contents for the benefit of British trade in general. The arrangement has been in force for some years. We are always ready to profit by the instructions of other countries.


asked whether the hon. Gentleman had taken into account the complaints of many merchants that this method did not facilitate the direct communication of complaints.


Yes, that fact was taken into account, and, after consideration of the circumstances, this arrangement was allowed to stand good as the best for British trade in general.