§ LORD CASTLETOWN
My Lords, I desire to ask a question of the Prime Minister which was on the Paper yesterday, and refers to a matter of great importance. It is an International question, and largely involves the interests of British subjects. I desire to ask whether there is any objection to any Papers that may exist on the subject of the dispute between the Delagoa Bay Railroad and the Portuguese Government being placed on the Table, and to urge Her Majesty's Government to take the necessary steps to prevent any precipitate action being taken by the Portuguese Government which may in any way imperil the large British interests concerned at Delagoa Bay, or cause damage or injury to British property within the territory of Lorinco Marques.
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (The MARQUESS of SALISBURY)
With respect to the first part of the noble Lord's question he will see that, as the matter is still the subject of communication between this Government and that of Portugal, the time has hardly arrived when we can properly lay Papers on the Table. Of course, we shall be happy to produce them when these communications are at an end. With respect to the subject-matter of dispute I cannot speak very fully, for the same reason; but I may say that we have made very earnest representations to the Portuguese Government to urge 646 them to take no hasty steps, but to give time enough for negotiation in order to settle this considerable difficulty. We are advised that the Portuguese Government would not be within its right to refuse arbitration. Beyond these two statements I do not think it is at present desirable that we should go.