§ THE EARL OF HARROWBY
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether he will lay on the Table, before the Prorogation of Parliament, any Papers explanatory of the commercial proposals made by this country to the Governments of Turkey and Japan? He said it was extremely desirable that the commercial community should be put in possession of more thorough information as to the schemes of the Government with regard to those negotiations than it at present possessed. He hoped the noble Earl opposite (Earl Granville) would be able to assure their Lordships that the Chambers of Commerce of the country were being consulted with regard to the negotiations. He would also be glad if the noble Earl 258 could tell him, for the sake of the commercial community, whether there was any power introduced into the Treaties to give a renunciation after a certain period. It was impossible to overrate the importance of those Commercial Treaties, and the commercial community were watching, with very great anxiety, to see whether Her Majesty's Government were throwing themselves with real zeal into these commercial matters. The commercial community had had grave reason for suspicion in past times as to the real anxiety of the Government on those important topics. He thought he need hardly refer to the great disappointment felt at the failure of the French Treaty negotiations, which had been referred to as being of the greatest gravity in three Queen's Speeches. The commercial community had also reason to complain as to the manner in which the negotiations connected with the Suez Canal had been conducted. They had been conducted in such a way as to oblige the Government to give them up, the commercial community being asked to bring them to a conclusion at which Her Majesty's Government had failed to arrive. Lately, again, the commercial community had had grave reason for suspicion in regard to the Congo Treaty, and as to whether the Government rightly and properly realized the gravity of the subject. He confessed he was somewhat alarmed by the concluding remarks of the short speech delivered by the noble Earl the other night, when he took a most optimist view of the commerce of this country. If that optimist view prevailed to a large extent in the Government, he thought it might account somewhat for the failure of former commercial negotiations. Those who were most interested—whether traders or operatives—in every part of the country, were getting more and more susceptible as to the treatment by the Government of those commercial matters. They entertained grave suspicions that Her Majesty's Government did not rightly appreciate the gravity of these subjects. He trusted, therefore, that the Government would not only make every possible effort during the Recess to bring the proposals alluded to in his Question to a satisfactory conclusion; but that they would also, during the progress of negotiations, lay full information on the Table, so as to enable commercial 259 communities to assist and co-operate with them.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
My Lords, the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Harrowby) has noticed several topics which were not quite apparent in the Notice he has given. With regard to the laying of Papers and Returns on the Table as to the commercial proposals between the Government and Japan and Turkey, I should have thought the noble Earl, from his great official and Parliamentary experience, and from his connection with one of the largest commercial cities in this country, would have been aware that it was extremely unusual and extremely undesirable, while negotiations were going on, to produce those negotiations, not only for ourselves, but for the whole world. I stated the other day that instructions had been sent out, and that our Ministers were in active communication with the Government of Japan on the subject, and that the delay was owing to the instructions from other countries, over whom we have no control, not having arrived; and, under those circumstances, it would not be convenient to produce Papers describing the stages of the negotiations, some of which we are not really at present acquainted with. With regard to Turkey, I can speak in a still stronger way. The noble Earl seems to think that the commercial classes are much more anxious than we are to prevent injudicious arrangements, and that we should present Papers before it is wise to do so. I may mention that delegates have been appointed, and are sitting at this moment, on the Turkish Tariff. They object in the strongest manner to the publication which the noble Earl requires; and Sir Joseph Lee, who represents Manchester, also strongly objects to the publication of those Papers at this moment as being most injudicious. I must entirely repudiate the statement of my noble Relative, that the Foreign Office is lukewarm as to the interest of the commercial community, and that it declines to secure commercial advantages to this country. At the same time, I must also repeat that I believe this country, with regard to its commercial position, although there is a great deal of depression, and certainly a great want of profitable prices, is not so bad as nearly every other country in the world.
§ THE EARL OF HARROWBY
said, he would remind the noble Earl that during the progress of the French Treaty there were free and constant communications, owing to pressure in the House of Commons, with the large commercial bodies of this country on the subject. None of those communications were of a private nature, and as he took a constant part in these matters in the House of Commons, he was enabled to say that that publicity prevented a very great disaster to the country, in not permitting a Treaty to be concluded on less favourable terms than the old Treaty.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
said, that the noble Earl was quite in error in thinking that the Foreign Office had not been in communication with the commercial communities as to the two Treaties to which he had referred.