HC Deb 07 March 1928 vol 214 cc1112-3

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that five great conventions relating to shipping questions, namely, the Freedom of Transit Convention, the Navigable Waters Convention, the Convention relating to the Simplification of Customs Formalities, the Railway Convention, and the Maritime Ports Convention, all of which were agreed to after the War by the States composing the League of Nations, are still unratified by some of the signatory nations; and whether, in the interests of international commerce, he will, through the League, press for ratification by these States?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. I learn that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary raised the matter at a meeting of the Council yesterday, and it was decided to instruct the Secretary-General to draw the special attention of all States members of the League thereto.

4. Sir R. THOMAS

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that the international convention on bills of lading, incorporating the Hague rules, which was adopted by the Brussels Diplomatic Conference in 1923, and signed by 14 countries, has not yet been given legislative force by the signatory countries, other than those which are members of the British Empire; and whether he will raise the matter at Geneva in September with a view to obtaining the complete ratification of this convention?


I understand that some of the foreign Governments, signatories to the Bills of Lading Convention, have introduced, although they have not yet passed, legislation to give effect thereto. As the Conference which resulted in the adoption of the convention was summoned by the Belgian Government, and the convention itself signed at Brussels, it is for the Belgian Government, and not for His Majesty's Government, to move in the matter of ratification. It is not a question which in the ordinary course would be raised at Geneva.


Will not the hon. Gentleman use his influence with the Belgian Government to move in the matter?


I think that, as the Conference was called by the Belgian Government, and is entirely within the purview of that Government, it is for the Belgian Government to take the initiative in the matter.


Are the Belgian Government themselves prepared to ratify the Convention?


I think the Belgian Government have ratified.