HC Deb 24 October 1912 vol 42 cc2344-7

asked why the statement cabled from Peking that the British Legation refused acceptance of the Crisp loan to China with the object of preventing a market quotation and damaging the interests of the bondholders remain uncontradicted; and, if that statement be true, in what respects the Crisp loan conditions fall short of the requirements of the British Government and of the secret conditions of the six-Power group?


The refusal of His Majesty's Minister at Peking to receive communication of the Crisp loan agreement simply indicated the inability of His Majesty's Government to assume any responsibility in connection with that transaction. The reasons were stated in a reply to the hon. and gallant Member for West Hampshire on the 9th instant, a somewhat lengthy reply which I will not occupy the time of the House by reading out again. It contains an answer to most of the hon. Gentleman's questions.


In the Papers to be laid on the Table, will the secret conditions referred to in the question be published?


There is a further question on that to-day. I can only refer to previous answers. The question of the proper time at which they will be published is a matter for the six-Power group. It will not be done in the Papers we are going to lay.


asked whether the Chinese Government terminated their negotiations with the six-Power group in July, 1912, and repeated their notice of termination in August; and, if so, will the right hon. Gentleman explain why in the present month China was not free to enter into negotiations with others because those with the six-Power group were still in progress?


As regards the first part of the question, I must refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply returned to the hon. Member for Thanet yesterday. The Chinese Government were applying to the six-Power group for further advances as late as 21st September, and, though the negotiations have been in abeyance since the rejection of the Chinese proposals by the agents of the group on the 22nd of that month, His Majesty's Government do not regard those negotiations as definitely abandoned.


asked whether the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank is reputed in China to be more than half controlled by German influence; whether it would follow that, although the money invested through the six-Power group might be largely British, that group, consisting of this bank, fifteen German banks, nine French banks, four American banks, eight Russo-Belgian banks, one Japanese bank, and no exclusively British bank, the control would be non-British; whether any foreign control required by the Crisp group would be British; and what grounds there are for supposing that the interests of British investors would be safer under the non-British control of the former group than under the British control of the latter?


I believe that the suggestion contained in the first part of the hon. Member's question is quite erroneous, and I have no information which would enable me to reply to the remainder of it.


asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he is aware of the dissatisfaction caused by the fact that the six-Power group, while seeking to prevent China from procuring a loan otherwise than through houses authorised by the respective Governments of the group, will not make public the political and other conditions sought to be imposed by the six-Power group upon China in making a loan; and whether he will take steps to obtain the assent of the Governments concerned to the publication of the political and other conditions sought to be imposed by the six-Power group in the recent negotiations for a loan to China?


There were no political conditions, and the publication of the financial conditions is a question for the groups to decide.


Is it in the public interest to withhold information of transactions which tend to create a monopoly and which undoubtedly will affect British interests and fetter the freedom of foreign Powers?


There were not political conditions. If it is assumed that there were political conditions and the question was put to me as to whether such-and-such conditions of a political nature were actually included, I would reply in the negative. As regards the publishing of the actual financial proposals made by the groups, that is a thing we can hardly press financial groups to do until the negotiations are definitely abandoned.