§ 29. Mr. S. SAMUEL
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will state the privileges to be conferred upon the new-company to be formed, the British Trade Corporation; what are the obligations to be imposed upon the new British Trade Corporation for the protection and assistance of British manufacturers and of merchants in different parts of the world; and what are the guarantees to be imposed for the due performance of those obligations?
His Majesty's Government have promised the British Trade Corporation their sympathy and support. The Corporation has received a Royal Charter establishing it for a term of 60 years, and Clause 4 of the Charter confers on it the right in certain circumstances to act as the agent of Government, subject to Government being entitled to appoint other agents in any special case in which such a course may appear necessary or expedient. The Corporation has been brought into being with the object of assisting the development of British trade and industries, and failure on the part of the Corporation substantially to give effect to that object would expose it to the liability of proceedings being taken to annul the Charter. The Corporation are also under terms to remain British in character and free from foreign control.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
Will the hon. Gentleman give the House an opportunity of discussing this very important subject?
I have no objection, but the hon. Member's question will have to be addressed to the Leader of the House.
§ Sir F. LOWE
Will the terms of the charter be laid before the House in any way, and will the House have an opportunity of saying whether this Corporation will be afforded preferential treatment over any existing banking institution?
§ Sir C. HENRY
Can the hon. Gentleman say whether this Corporation is receiving any subsidy or guarantee from the Government?
§ 30. Mr. S. SAMUEL
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the Commercial Commissioners who are going to China and other places are to be paid out of moneys voted by the House of Commons; whether the Reports of these Commissioners and information given by them of new business proposals and contracts, as suggested in Clause 10 of the Report of Lord Faringdon's Committee, are to be communicated to the new British Trade Corporation in the first instance, or, seeing that they are paid out of the taxpayers' money, are all merchants to have the same information at the same time as the British Trade Corporation; and, if not, will he say what services have the British Trade Corporation rendered to the nation to entitle them to exclusive preference against merchant firms who have been established twenty, thirty, forty, and fifty years in different parts of the world?
The Board of Trade dispatched a special Commissioner to China three years ago, and do not contemplate arranging for another commercial mission to that country at present. Commercial missions are dispatched from time to time to various parts of the world, and the cost is met out of the public funds. It is not proposed that the British 2570 Trade Corporation should have an exclusive preference in respect of the reports resulting from such missions. Such reports will continue as at present to be available for British merchant firms who deal in British manufactures.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
Will the Government undertake that the Reports are not handed to the British Trade Corporation before they are handed to all the merchants who have been established in China or other parts of the world, some of them as long ago as fifty years, or will they have the same advantage in knowing what is going on as this Corporation, or has this Corporation the monopoly of the Government?
I think that I have repeatedly stated that this Corporation possesses no monopoly, and certainly no discrimination would be made in favour of it.