HC Deb 06 June 1912 vol 39 cc269-73

asked whether before officially recognising the Chinese Republic Government, His Majesty's Government will take steps to secure that the conflict of authority at present existing between the Chinese officials and the municipal government of the international settlement at Shanghai will be terminnated, and that the boundaries of the settlement will be re-adjusted to meet the present unsatisfactory position?


His Majesty's Legation at Peking continue now, as in the past, to make every effort to secure an amelioration of the sanitary and police conditions prevailing in the district of Chapel, which borders on the limits of the international settlement, and a clear and satisfactory demarcation of the boundary of the settlement itself. Any measure calculated to attain these objects, which may be initiated by the Consular Body at Shanghai and receive the approval of the Diplomatic Representatives at Peking, will have the cordial support of His Majesty's Government.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that there are certain British (Glasgow) interests in Chinese railways, etc., with regard to which he was endeavouring to arrive at a general settlement with the Chinese Government in 1906, and which still remain unsettled; whether a settlement of these outstanding Glasgow interests is included in the negotiations now proceeding, or in contemplation, regarding Chinese financial matters; and, if not, what steps he is taking or proposing to take to secure a settlement of these claims?


The interests referred to are presumably certain claims in connection with Chinese railways, etc., put forward by Mr. George Turner, a contractor residing in Glasgow. These claims have been carefully investigated, both before and since I went to the Foreign Office in 1905, and I am satisfied that there is no ground for the intervention of His Majesty's Government. They were therefore not included among the claims to which reference was made in 1906, and have not been the subject of any negotiations with the Chinese Government.


asked whether the British Government continues the policy of giving diplomatic support to only one British bank in Chinese finance, thereby allowing compacts between certain banks and others whereby competition for Chinese finance is excluded, and the application of the money and the attendant patronage are monopolised?


Pending the final issue of the loan now being negotiated with the Chinese Government, His Majesty's Government have assured their exclusive support to the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, the British representative in the International Combination which, it is hoped, will render effective the aim of His Majesty's Government to prevent any return to the former unprofitable policy of international competition in Chinese loans. The support now given to the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank in no sense confers a monopoly on it for the emission of future loans that may be issued on behalf of China, and I understand that the bank is perfectly willing to admit to full financial participation British houses of well-established reputation.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the American section of the six-Power group for financing China is identical in personnel with, or embraces the same parties as, the American group who, acting in secret compact with a British firm in 1910, contracted for a loan with the Chinese Government for the construction of the Chinchow-Aigun Railway and for the application of the money; whether he is now aware of the terms of that secret compact; and whether the British Government gave any diplomatic or other support to the British firm towards obtaining the concession for the Chinchow-Aigun Railway?


We have no accurate information as to the constitution of the American group referred to nor do we know of any secret compact between them and Messrs. Pauling, the firm interested in the Chinchow-Aigun Railway. With regard to the concession in question, His Majesty's Government were unable to give diplomatic support for this particular enterprise.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will state the names of the individuals and banks constituting the different groups of financiers now acting together with the support of their respective Governments as the six-Power group for the purpose of financing China; whether the terms of the agreements between these groups and between them jointly and China, and the nature of their authority from their respective Governments, will be made public; whether the groups undertake to find a sixth of the money in each of their respective countries; if the money is to be raised mainly or wholly in England and France, will he explain to what extent the other groups or the countries they represent are to participate in the profits or to control the expenditure, and for what consideration; and, if their only contribution is silence or support in taking advantage of China's difficulties by creating a monopoly in Chinese finance, whether the British Government will support the combination for this purpose?


I cannot supply details as to the composition of the financial groups concerned in the loan to China or the terms of their agreements, which are at present the subject of confidential negotiations between themselves. I have already explained, in reply to previous questions, the nature of the support given by His Majesty's Government to the British group in the financial combination, and that it involves no pecuniary liability on them. We have no desire to take any advantage of China's difficulties. It is China who wants to borrow, and not others who wish to press loans upon her. If China can do without foreign loans at all it would be a very great relief, and put an end to many troublesome questions. It is clear that in the present state of affairs in China, if money is to be lent, it must be upon proper conditions, otherwise Chinese credit will disappear and confusion and chaos will result, and I cannot support anything that is likely to produce these untoward consequences.

Captain CRAIG

Is the right hon. Gentleman not supporting a Home Rule Bill which will produce these consequences? [HON. MEMBERS: "Order."]


So far as I have heard the Debates on the Home Rule Bill it has never been suggested that it will ever produce any consequences in China.


In view of the actual financial condition of China, does His Majesty's Government regard it as consistent with the advice tendered to the Chinese Government by foreign Ministers and others, and reported in this day's "Times," in reference to the circumscribing of Chinese finance?


If the hon. Member will let me have a copy of that question on the Paper I will answer it.


Will the right hon. Gentleman say that if the Home Rule Bill is passed it will not have the effect indicated?


The Home Rule Bill has nothing whatever to do with this matter.