HC Deb 26 May 1908 vol 189 cc942-5
MR. BOWLES (Lambeth, Norwood)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been given to the Protocol of 19th December, 1907, enabling Russia, though declared to be a sugar-bounty-giving state, to adhere to the Sugar Convention, 1902, on condition of her undertaking to restrict for six years her exportation of sugar to all countries whatever, excepting only Finland, Persia, and other Asiatic countries adjoining Russia, to the quantities specified in that Protocol; whether, seeing that this stipulation refers exclusively to the restriction of the exportation of Russian sugar and not to its importation, he will explain why His Majesty's Government, through Sir A. Hardinge, declared its non-assent to the stipulation tending to restrict not the exportation but the importation of Russian sugar; and will he explain what effect, if any, the non-assent of His Majesty's Government to restrictions not made in the Protocol can have on that Protocol.


The answer to the first part of the Question is in the affirmative. If the hon. Member will refer to the Parliamentary Paper, Commercial No. 1 (1908), he will see that the telegraphic instruction to His Majesty's Minister at Brussels referred to the "exportation" of Russian sugar. Through an error in transmission the word was given as "importation." I would point out, however, to the hon. Member that the change does not affect the sense, and secures the object which His Majesty's Government had in view.

MR. HAROLD COX (Preston)

Can the right hon. Gentleman explain what is the difference in economical effect between a Convention which prevents Russia sending sugar here, and one which prohibits our receiving sugar from Russia?


I am not aware of any Convention which prohibits us receiving sugar from Russia.


I am speaking of the Protocol.


Perhaps the hon. Member will give me notice of his Question.


In view of the right hon. Gentleman's statement that a restriction of the export of sugar from Russia has the same sense as a restriction of the import of such sugar into other countries, do His Majesty's Government still adhere to the opinion that this Protocol, to which they have bound this country without the consent of the House, inflicts no injury upon the import trade of the United Kingdom?


said the one object in view was to secure to this country a free hand with regard to sugar coming here. That, he believed, they had secured.

MR. LYNCH (Yorkshire, W.R., Ripon)

asked why Persia, a purely independent State, was bracketed with Finland?


The right hon. Gentleman is not responsible for the form of the Question.

MR. HERBERT (Buckinghamshire, Wycombe)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, having regard to the fact that the Sugar Convention Act, 1903, was only passed for the purpose of giving effect to the Sugar Convention then existing and did not purport to authorise the making of Orders in Council or other Acts outside the provisions of that Convention, it is proposed to introduce legislation to give effect to the additional Act of the Sugar Convention.


Inasmuch as the additional Act does not extend our obligations, but on the contrary frees us from some obligations which existed under the original Act, no legislation appears to be necessary.


asked whether a portion of the additional Act was not notice terminating the existing treaty on 1st September, 1908, and entering into a fresh treaty for five years, and would the right hon. Gentleman explain how the Act of Parliament authorising—


The hon. Member had better give notice of that Question.

MR. VILLIERS (Brighton)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any correspondence has taken place between Russia and His Majesty's Government with regard to the limitation of the export of Russian sugar to this country; and, if so, if he will lay the correspondence upon the Table of the House.


The question of limiting the export of Russian sugar to this country was not discussed between His Majesty's Government and Russia at all.


Are we to understand that Russia suffered this restriction without protest?


said that no protest was made. His Majesty's Government had nothing to do with limiting the export of Russian sugar; of course they were cognisant of the circumstances, but they undertook no obligation.