HC Deb 06 May 1931 vol 252 cc363-5
5. Mr. DAY

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the negotiations regarding extra-territoriality carried on between His Majesty's representative in China and the Chinese Government have made any further progress since his last statement on the subject?

8. Sir K. WOOD

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the present position of the negotiations on extra-territoriality; and whether he has any information concerning any new regulations prepared by the Chinese Government for governing the adjudication of foreign cases under which foreign nationals would be amenable to the various grades of Chinese courts?


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any other countries are still negotiating with the Chinese Government regarding question of extra-territoriality?


The position with regard to the extra-territoriality negotiations is that agreement has now been reached on a large number of the details of a treaty providing on the one hand for the transfer of jurisdiction over British subjects in China from British to Chinese courts, and on the other hand for safeguards relating to the administration of justice, calculated to give a feeling of confidence and security to the British nationals and British interests under a new regime. A serious obstacle to the speedy and successful conclusion of the negotiations has, however, arisen in connection with certain important treaty ports, which in the view of His Majesty's Government must be excluded from the operation of the treaty until such time as necessary changes have been effected in the municipal administrations at those ports to meet the new situation created by the abolition of extra-territorial rights. This attitude on the part of His Majesty's Government was influenced not only by consideration of the chaos which must ensue from any sudden change in jurisdiction at the ports in question, but also by the fact that they could not alone decide the question, having regard to the fact that other Powers were also concerned. As a way out of the difficulty, His Majesty's Government recently suggested to the Chinese Government that they would be prepared, immediately on the conclusion of the treaty, to agree to the appointment of a special commission which would proceed forthwith to a study of the whole problem of the reserved areas with a view to finding a satisfactory solution.

Unfortunately, the Chinese Government have not seen their way to agree either to the point of view of His Majesty's Government on the question of the reserved areas or to the appointment of the suggested commission. His Majesty's Government, however, have not abandoned hope that, if time is allowed for further discussion, a satisfactory solution of this one outstanding difficulty will be found, and I need not emphasise our sincere desire to reach a friendly settlement. With regard to other Powers, I have seen a statement in the Press by the Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs, but as yet I have no official information as to the final position of the negotiations between the Chinese Government and these Powers. The House will, I am sure, agree with me in recognising the devotion and ability with which Sir Miles Lampson has conducted these long and complicated negotiations.


I am sure that everyone on this side of the House will desire to be associated with the tribute which the Foreign Secretary has paid to the services of Sir Miles Lamp-son. May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he can now lay Papers on this matter showing the course of negotiations and the attitude taken up by the different parties? We have been afraid of pressing for this information until the negotiations had reached such a point that it was possible to give it. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will now be able to give it.


I am quite prepared to give the same serious consideration to that suggestion, but in one paragraph of my reply I have said that we are not without hope that even now we may be able to proceed to a settlement, and I will take that into consideration at the same time. If the right hon. Gentleman desires to put another question, I will give a considered reply.


Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the last part of Question 8, as to whether it is a fact that the Chinese Government have made these regulations purporting to deal with the adjudication of foreign cases in their own Courts?


I have seen a report in the Press of a set of regulations which are supposed to be official, but as yet I have no official information on the point. If the right hon. Gentleman will put a question down next week I will see if we can get it in the meantime.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether Sir Miles Lampson is still detained in Hong Kong, or whether he is actively carrying on these negotiations?


I was not aware that Sir Miles Lampson was at Hong Kong.


Did not the right hon. Gentleman, in answer to a question a few weeks ago, say that he was unavoidably detained in Hong Kong?


I do not remember the question.

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