HL Deb 02 May 1843 vol 68 cc1140-1
The Marquess of Lansdowne

said, he would take that opportunity to ask his noble Friend at the head of the Foreign Department a question with reference to a negotiation for a commercial treaty between this country and Portugal. It was notorious that for some time past, negotiations for the formation of a commercial treaty between this country and Portugal had been in progress, and it was no less notorious that, to a certain extent, those negotations had failed. He would not inquire into the causes of that failure; but his noble Friend must be aware that very great anxiety existed amongst a most important portion of the mercantile body as to the present state of those negotiations. They were not able to ascertain whether those negotiations were completely at an end or not: and it was most important that they should have accurate information on the subject, in order to determine what steps they ought to take in the conduct of their commercial affairs. He, therefore, put the question to his noble Friend.

The Earl of Aberdeen

, in answer to the question of his noble Friend, had to state, that for some time past, negotiations had been going on between this country and Portugal, not for the formation of a commercial treaty, for a commercial treaty had been signed last November, but in compliance with an article of that treaty, by which it was agreed that the contracting parties should proceed to a mutual revision of their respective tariffs. Those negotiations were at an end. It was true, that in the official document the terms made us of by the Portuguese government might lead to the idea that the negotiations had been merely interrupted. But our minister at Lisbon had received the ultimatum of the British Government with directions to communicate it to the Portuguese government; and to state, that if it were not accepted, the negotiations were to be considered at an end. That ultimatum was so communicated to the Portuguese government; it was not accepted; and it was then stated by our ambassador that the negotiation was at an end. This explanation, he hoped, would suffice. It would not be proper for him to say more on the subject.