The Congo Basin Treaties provide for complete commercial equality between the parties and preclude differential treatment in the matter of duties. It cannot, therefore, be claimed that Japan's trade with these territories is contrary to the provisions of the treaties.
It is a question of the legal interpretation of the treaty. Undoubtedly, under the terms of the treaty, that is so.
This matter is regulated by treaty and we are bound, therefore, by the terms of the treaty. Under the terms of the treaty, there is no inequality between the Japanese trade and ours.
§ Mr. Neil Maclean
Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to say that if the present treaty is creating any disadvantage to British trade it will he revised?
There is another question on the matter to which I shall reply later. This treaty is only capable of revision by agreement of all the signatories, and cannot be denounced unilaterally by this country.
§ Brigadier-General Sir Henry Croft
If the other countries signatory to the Congo Basin treaty feel that they are driven out of this area by unfair competition, will my right hon. Friend reconsider the whole question?
The difficulty is that it is incapable of denunciation. If we could get agreement, that certainly would be another matter.
§ Mr. James Griffiths
Will the Minister bear in mind that all this unfair coin-petition comes from Fascist countries?
§ Mr. H. G. Williams
Is my right hon. Friend not aware that this treaty was signed in 1882? Does he seriously suggest that that binds us for all time?
I and the Government rely upon the advice of our legal advisers. That legal advice I have given.