§ Earl WINTERTON
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he had received complaints as to the manner in which the tenders for the Tientsin-Pukow Railway were being manipulated; whether, in the case of tenders opened on 17th June for the 21 engines required by the Chekiang Railway, the railway company handed all the tenders over to one of the tenderers to open and adjudicate upon; whether he was aware that on the northern section of the Tientsin-Pukow Railway, which was under German domination, none but German tenders were considered, whereas on the southern section, which was supposedly under British domination, tenders were thrown open to the world; whether, as a protest against the discrimination exercised and the apathy displayed by the British Legation at Pekin, the Agent-General of the British and Chinese Corporation, through whom all the existing railway loans had been raised, resigned during the week of 18th June; and whether, under existing circumstances, he would say what action he proposed to take in the interests of British manufacturers in China?
§ Sir E. GREY
The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative. As regards the third part, we have no reason to believe that Article 18 of the Tientsin-Pukow Railway Agreement has not been fairly carried out. That Article is to the effect that German Asiatic Bank 1071 and the Chinese Central Railways shall act as agents of the railway administration during construction for the purchase of all materials, etc., from abroad; and that at equal rates and qualities goods of German and British manufacture shall be given preference over other goods of foreign origin for the northern and southern sections respectively. The answer to the second part of the question is in the affirmative, but the Railway Bureau ultimately decided to reject all the tenders and to purchase nothing. The irregularity in procedure referred to has already been the subject of representation. As to the last two parts of the question, the resignation of the Agent-General of the British and Chinese Corporation is a matter which concerns the corporation alone. We have received no complaints from them, nor have we any reason to suppose that they consider that His Majesty's Minister at Pekin has in any way neglected their interests in the Far East. I do not know of any case where Sir John Jordan has failed to display a zealous watchfulness over British interests, and any charge of this kind against the British Legation is entirely unfounded and unjust. I know no more strenuous and loyal public servant than Sir John Jordan, and I take full responsibility for his action. In any case which arises I am prepared to give full support to well-founded British claims, if it is required.
§ Earl WINTERTON
Do I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that this Article 18 has, or has not, been carried out?