HC Deb 27 March 1911 vol 23 c873

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the intention of the Canadian Government to ask to be relieved of the obligations of a number of Imperial most-favoured-nation treaties, and the necessity that compliance with that request would involve the denunciation of all such treaties by the Imperial Government, he could state whether the abrogation of the Zollverein treaty at Canada's request in 1897 was followed by negotiations for a new treaty in accordance with the expressed intention of the British Government as set forth in Lord Salisbury's despatch of 28th July, 1897; what was the date of such negotiations; what are the reasons for the failure of the negotiations; and what is the present position in regard to the arrangement of a new treaty with Germany?


The reply to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. His Majesty's Government have, however, no knowledge of any intention on the part of the Canadian Government to ask to be relieved of the obligations of any Imperial most-favoured-nation Treaties. Negotiations took place during 1897 and 1898. The main difficulty in the way of a satisfactory conclusion lay in the divergence of views between the two Governments concerning the right of the Colonies to form special arrangements as between themselves and the Mother Country, of which the advantages were not extended to any foreign country. No negotiations for a new Treaty are at present in progress.


Has the hon. Gentleman noticed that Sir Wilfrid Laurier has stated publicly that they intended to ask for the denunciation of these treaties?

The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Harcourt)

I have seen it stated that Sir Wilfrid Laurier said so, but, as usual, about two days after that statement I saw it contradicted.


Has the right hon. Gentleman had any notice from the Canadian Government that they intend to raise the question at the Imperial Conference?


None whatever.

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