HL Deb 21 June 1888 vol 327 cc788-90

in calling attention to Parliamentary Paper "Commercial, No. 8, 1888," said, he intended to invite the attention of the House to two points only in connection with the Paper referred to. Firstly, Mr. Bryce, on the 4th of June, 1886, in answer to a Question in "another place," had denied that commercial treaties, containing Most Favoured Nation Clauses, precluded preferential treatment being given by the United Kingdom to the Colonies. Now, that answer, which was given as the opinion of Her Majesty's Government of that day, was completely contradicted by the Return Commercial, No. 8, which had just been laid before both Houses of Parliament, and which contained a memorandum from the Foreign Office which must be considered as authoritative. The only explanation he could offer for Mr. Bryce's answer was that either he gave it from his unassisted judgment, or else that he consulted the wrong person. Secondly, the Return mentioned treaties with the countries named in the Notice which were not terminable for several years—that with Greece would not be terminable till 1898; and until those treaties were worked off, or abrogated by the consent of the countries with which thay were made, all the other countries having a Most Favoured Nation Clause would retain the advantages enjoyed by the countries named in the notice. Now, the Conservative Party were pledged to the policy of drawing closer the Colonies to the Mother Country, or of Colonial federation; but, with one or two exceptions, it must be said that the Leaders of the Liberal Party were fully as desirous of securing that end; and although Her Majesty's Government had concluded the affair of the New Hebrides, yet the Australian colonists were most indebted to the efforts both in and out of office of the noble Earl (the Earl of Rosebery) in their behalf. It is now well understood that there could be no Colonial federation without fiscal preferential treatment of the Colonies. The carrying out of this preferential treatment was therefore certain sooner or later. In April last, Mr. MacNeill, M.P., moved a Resolution, which was carried unanimously by the Ottawa branch of the Imperial Federation League— That the agricultural, manufacturing, and commercial interests of the Colonies and the Mother Country would be greatly promoted by such modification in the various fiscal policies adopted within the Empire as would give to each of its members advantages in the several markets withheld from foreign countries; and the meeting respectfully suggests that Parliament should in its wisdom consider the advisability of entering into negotiations with the Imperial authorities for carrying out such a policy. Under these circumstances, and seeing that the United States had been offering similar advantages to the Canadians in order to detach them fiscally from the Mother Country, it was unfortunate that in negotiating these recent treaties, greater care had not been taken to avoid tying the hands of this country for a further term of years. For instance, what was the good of negotiating a Treaty with Montenegro, a country which had no seaports, and no emigrants, except a few gardeners who went to Constantinople, with the result of adding to the number of treaties by which we were hampered. The ease or difficulty of obtaining a release from those engagements would depend very much upon the amount of trade between the Colonies and the countries with which treaties had still several years to run. The country had a right to be informed on this point, and the knowledge of it would be useful to the Government; he would therefore move for the Return according to the Notice.

Moved for, Return showing the amount of trade between India and each of the Colonies on the one hand, and the following countries;—Equador, Greece, Italy, Montenegro, Paraguay, Portugal, Roumania, Salvador, Servia, Uruguay, during the year 1886."—(The Lord Stanley of Alderley.)


said, that so far as India was concerned there was no objection to the Motion if the words "as far as practicable" were introduced.


said, on behalf of the Colonial Office, he should offer no objection to the Return, provided the words suggested by the noble Viscount were inserted. The Colonial Office desired to do everything possible to strengthen the ties between the Colonies and the Empire; but he doubted whether preferential and protective trading arrangements would have that effect.


said, he would accept the qualification suggested.

Motion, as amended, agreed to. Return showing, as far as practicable, the amount of trade between India and each of the Colonies on the one hand, and the following countries:—Equador, Greece, Italy, Montenegro, Paraguay,Portugal, Roumania, Salvador, Servia, Uruguay, during the year 1886.

Ordered to be laid before the House.

House adjourned at quarter-past Five o'clock, till To-morrow, a quarter past Four o'clock.