HL Deb 27 March 1911 vol 7 cc617-33

*EARL STANHOPE rose to ask His Majesty's Government—

  1. 1. Whether the decision of the Hague Tribunal with regard to perpetual leases to foreign residents in Japan has been fully put into effect; and
  2. 2. Whether, in view of the change in the status of Korea, His Majesty's Government propose to take measures to protect British interests in that country; and to move for Papers.

The noble Earl said: My Lords, I rise to ask His Majesty's Government the Questions standing:in my name. The question of perpetual leases as they are called is exercising the minds of British residents in Japan to no inconsiderable extent. As your Lordships are no doubt aware, by the old law of Japan foreigners were forbidden to hold land in that country, and in order to overcome the difficulty the Japanese Government forty or fifty years ago instituted a system of what is called perpetual leases—granting, that is to say, areas of land in each of the three chief ports of Japan—Yokohama, Kobe, and Nagasaki—for the purpose of forming foreign settlements in those cities. These leases were granted to private individuals and carried with them immunity from the Land Taxes, an arrangement which was confirmed by agreements made with the Governments of foreign Powers. Recently the Japanese Government held that the new House Tax was not included in the exemption. The question was discussed at considerable length in Japan, and after considerable delay the matter was referred to the Arbitration Court at the Hague, and this Court finally gave a verdict against, the Japanese Government.

This verdict was given four or five years ago, and the Japanese Government have recently instituted laws complying with the ruling of the Hague Court, but I understand that subsidiary questions which hang upon this judgment are still outstanding, and this is a matter which is naturally depreciating the value of the leases held by British subjects. These leases were confirmed, as I have said, by Treaties with the foreign Governments, and there is a considerable feeling of uneasiness among British residents in the Far East that His Majesty's Government intend to give up the leases in return for concessions in the new Japanese Tariff. These leases were granted to private individuals and were bought by them at a price largely in excess of the current value of adjacent lands in virtue of the immunity from taxation. While, therefore, additional security is given to these leases, they are not totally dependent upon the maintenance of the Treaties between the Powers—a point which is confirmed by a Memorandum from Sir Ernest Satow, then British Minister in Tokyo, to Viscount Aoki, soon after these Treaties came into force; in which he stated— If no stipulation on the subject had been made in the Treaty of 1804, justice and good faith would call for the observance of the contractual obligations thus created between the Japanese Government and the foreign renters. It is clear, therefore, that while His Majesty's Government may properly be called upon to protect the rights granted to British subjects, they have no right to give up or modify those rights without the consent of the private owners concerned. I venture to hope that in the reply which will be given to-day on their behalf His Majesty's Government will be able to allay the misgivings of British residents in Japan by satisfactory assurances on these points.

In my second Question I ask whether in view of the change in the status of Korea, His Majesty's Government propose to take measures to protect British interests in that country. The Preamble of the Anglo-Japanese Agreement of January 30, 1902, runs as follows— The Governments of Great Britain and Japan, actuated solely by a desire to maintain the status quo and general peace in the Extreme East, being moreover specially interested in maintaining the independence and territorial integrity of the Empire of China and the Empire of Korea, and in securing equal opportunities in those countries for the commerce and industry of all nations, agree as follows: Then came the Russo-Japanese War, and in the Agreement which was concluded at the termination of that war naturally the Empire of Korea was no longer referred to as such, but the policy of the open door was perpetuated in the new Agreement; for Article III of the Anglo-Japanese Agreement of August 12, 1905, is as follows:— Japan possessing paramount political, military, and economic interests in Korea, Great Britain recognises the right of Japan to take such measures of guidance, control, and protection in Korea as she may deem proper and necessary to safeguard and advance those interests, provided always that such measures are not contrary to the principle of equal opportunities for the commerce and industry of all nations. This was followed by the Convention of November 17, 1905, some months after peace was signed, in which Japan assumed the entire control of the foreign affairs of Korea, and undertook the duty of watching over the execution of the Treaties actually existing between Korea and the Powers; and five days later a circular Note was addressed to the Powers in which the Imperial Government of Japan declared that— in assuming charge of the foreign relations of Korea and undertaking the duty of watching over the existing Treaties of that country they will see that those Treaties are maintained and respected, and they also engage not to prejudice in any way the legitimate commercial and industrial interests of these Powers in Korea. Finally on August 29 of last year the annexation of Korea by Japan was announced, and by a Declaration issued on the same day it was stated that the Treaties with foreign Powers ceased to be operative in consequence of annexation, and that Japan's existing Treaties would as far as practicable be applied to Korea. Extraterritorial rights were abolished and the tariff and coastal trade for foreign ships was to be permitted as before for a period of ten years. Several precedents have been advanced for the claim that the act of annexation of itself cancelled all Treaties formally existing between the Empire of Korea and foreign Powers. In the case of Madagascar, which presents the closest analogy, it was only after vigorous protestations by the late Lord Salisbury that England accepted the attitude adopted by France, and she has never relinquished the principle that succession to rights involves succession to responsibilities. But in all three cases—that of Hawaii, of Texas, and of Madagascar—the country annexing territory had in no case made itself previously responsible for the foreign policy of the country it annexed or solemnly pledged itself to watch over existing Treaties, as did Japan in the case of Korea. I venture to think that your Lordships will agree that this fact very materially affects the question.

And now as to how far the claim to cancel Treaties formerly in existence is likely to affect British interests in Korea. It would seem reasonable to suppose that if extraterritorial rights are unnecessary in Japan, they can hardly be considered necessary in a country under the same Government just across the Straits of Tsushima. But the circumstances in the two countries are so entirely different that no comparison can be made between the two. Japan is faced with untold difficulties. Imagine a country situated somewhat in the geographical position of the Channel Islands inhabited by what is considered an inferior race of a childlike and hopeless simplicity. It is obvious that the dregs of humanity in our great cities would be anxious to emigrate thither to exploit those people for their own advantage, and this is exactly what has happened in Korea. An undesirable class of emigrant gives rise to situations with which the authorities with the best will in the world must be unable to cope.

Nor is this all. Korea is at present not under similar laws to Japan, but under military jurisdiction. Again, there is not in Japan freedom of the Press as we understand it; but there is no semblance whatever of freedom of the Press in Korea. Four out of the seven newspapers which existed. there six months ago have been abolished, and recently the remaining three papers were notified that all communications to the Press and to the public would be made by the Governor-General of Korea and by no other authority. If all Japanese officials and colonists were of the high character of the late Prince Ito, of the present Governor-General, General Terauchi, or of Mr. Nabeshima, there would, of course, be nothing to urge against this abolition of extra-territorial rights, but it is impossible that they should he able to secure British residents from circumstances which they would wish to avoid if possible. There is this further point with regard to extraterritorial rights. Not only are the emigrants of a character who might give evidence in Courts which would not be substantiated, but naturally some of the officials are of a similar character; and communications in Korea being still extremely backward many minor points of law have been handed over to the gendarmerie for adjudication instead of to the Courts. By an Order in Council of January 23 last this country has recognised the abolition of extra-territorial rights in Korea, but I think your Lordships would wish to know whether any qualification was made as to the standing of the Court before which British subjects should be tried.

I turn to the question of trade and commerce. The imports of Great Britain into Korea are about eighteen or nineteen per cent. of the whole, and three years ago were estimated at £700,000. The inter-coastal trade is also very considerable. By the Proclamation issued on annexation Japan limits the policy of the open door to a period of ten years, at which time she may apparently impose any tariff she pleases, and forbid, as she has done in Japan, any inter-coastal trade by British ships—a policy which will bring to an end all British trade in that region. British subjects in Korea are anxious about yet another point—the ownership of land. They fear that they may be forbidden to own land in Korea as they have so long been forbidden to own land in Japan, and they object to the Regulation recently promulgated that in the event of any dispute the question must be referred to a Land Inspection Committee and not to a Court of Law. It is obvious that foreigners may have their interests handed over to a committee without any possibility of appeal to a higher Court, and that injustice in that way may be done. Mining rights, also, are in a somewhat uncertain condition. There are great possibilities in connection with mining in Korea, and already several foreign countries have started there and I believe are being extremely successful. But there, again, the companies are in doubt as to what their future will be, and whether these mining rights will continue to be conceded to them. The question is complicated by the Korean Company Act of December 29 last year, by which no company may be formed in Korea until the approval of the Governor-General has been obtained. This law, though extremely autocratic in operation, will, no doubt, tend to the prevention of bogus companies and the exploitation of the unfortunate Korean, but it should receive attention in so far as it affects the legitimate rights of British subjects.

Next I turn to the withdrawal of the British Consul from Antung. Antung is on the Yalu River, and is now the chief boundary town between what is virtually Japan and China. By an Agreement, very loosely worded as they constantly are, between China and Russia the former Government granted a rebate of three-tenths of the Customs Duty on her imports over the Manchurian border as a set-off against the necessarily heavy freight charges of the railway. Japan has obtained most-favoured-nation terms for the trade between Manchuria and Korea by an Agreement with China dated December 22, 1905. At present Japanese goods are shipped direct to Antung, and no rebate has been demanded. It is possible, however, that a line twenty-nine miles long from the mouth of the Yalu River will shortly be built and the bridge across the Yalu will shortly be completed. It is possible that rebate may then be charged, although the freight charges on the railway will, of course, be infinitesimal. It is felt, therefore, that a British representative should be re-appointed to Antung to watch developments, and that representations should be made before proposals so injurious to British trade are put forward. It is impossible to forecast with accuracy the future of the Far East. But if the feeling is allowed to gain ground that His Majesty's Government cares not, and it will speedily be translated into dares not, to uphold British interests such as those I have put forward, it will go far towards undermining and destroying British influence throughout the Far East and the Orient.

There is one further point. Sir Edward Grey, in a speech which he recently delivered in another place, made a statement with which I think every member of this House is in cordial agreement. I refer to his desire that this country should draw closer to the United States of America. By the Anglo-Japanese Alliance Great Britain is bound to make war in common with Japan for the preservation of Japan's territorial rights in the Far East. When that Alliance was signed Korea was not even a Protectorate of Japan. Manchuria at the present day is not a part of the Japanese Empire. Japan at that time had guaranteed equal opportunities for the trade and commerce of all nations in Korea, and she has made similar protestations with regard to Manchuria. It is possible—in fact, those who know the Far East best consider it probable—that some day Japan may be inclined to take similar action with regard to South Manchuria. We all know that the United States have considerable interests in that region, and they place so much importance upon them that Mr. Knox recently went so far as to suggest the neutralisation of all railways in that region to conserve as far as possible the question of the open door. My Lords, Korea may form a dangerous precedent. a precedent difficult to withstand when applied to Manchuria; and this country may either have to make explanations and withdrawals which once again will earn for us the name of la perfide Albion, or make war on a nation bound to us by every tie of common language and of common origin—a nation whose interests are identical with our own in the Far East. I apologise for having detained your Lordships so long, and I beg to move the Motion standing in my name.

Moved, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty for Papers relating to the decision of the Hague Tribunal with regard to perpetual leases to foreign residents in Japan; and also as to the protection of British interests in view of the change in the status of Korea.—(Earl Stanhope.)


My Lords, before replying to the Questions which stand on the Paper in the name of the noble Earl, I hope I may be permitted, without its being thought impertinent on the part of a very junior Member of your Lordships' House, to say how extremely glad I am sure every member of this House feels at seeing the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition once more in his place.

The first Question on the Paper is whether the decision of the Hague Tribunal with regard to perpetual leases to foreign residents in Japan has been fully put into effect. The Award of the Hague Tribunal, given on May 22, 1905, laid down that the Treaties concluded between this country, France, and Germany on the one hand and Japan on the other hand exempted from all taxes or payments of any kind except those contemplated in the Treaties all land held by British, French, or German subjects on perpetual lease; and not only all land, but also all buildings upon such land, whether they were already constructed or to be constructed in the future. The Award referred to taxes imposed on the properties in question, but did not expressly refer to taxes imposed in respect of the properties in question. The Japanese Government accordingly proceeded to levy State and Municipal Income Tax assessed on properties held under perpetual lease, on the ground that Income Tax was a personal tax; but as the action of the Japanese Government indicated that they placed a different interpretation upon the Award from that placed upon it by the three Powers, the Powers felt that it was eminently desirable to have a clear and definite statement of the taxes and charges from which the land renters could, in view of the Award, claim exemption. In the meanwhile the levying of the taxes above referred to has been suspended, and an informal exchange of views is actually taking place with the Japanese Government in the hope of arriving at a satisfactory settlement of the question. I feel sure that in these circumstances the noble Earl will readily understand that it is impossible for the moment to make a more detailed statement on this point.

I now turn to the second Question, which is whether, in view of the change in the status of Korea, His Majesty's Government propose to take measures to protect British interests in that Country. First of all let me say that the Secretary of State is fully alive to the question of British interests in Korea, and he is doing, and will do, everything which may be possible or practicable to promote those interests. I should like to state very briefly what is the position, broadly speaking, at present. The Japanese Government, in explaining the motives which led them to undertake the complete annexation of Korea, gave certain assurances. Firstly, they gave the assurance that as the Treaties between Korea and other Powers ceased to be operative, Japan's existing Treaties would, as far as possible, be applied to Korea. Foreign residents in Korea would, so far as conditions permitted, enjoy the same rights and immunities as in Japan proper, and they would also enjoy the protection of their legally-acquired rights subject in all cases to the jurisdiction of Japan. Secondly, they undertook to continue the existing Tariff arrangements for a period of ten years. Thirdly, for a similar period, vessels under the flags of Powers having Treaties with Japan would be permitted to engage in the coastal trade between the open ports of Korea and any open ports of Japan. And, lastly, the existing open ports of Korea, with the exception of Masampo and with the addition of Shinwiju, would continue to be open ports. As to foreign settlements, jurisdiction over British subjects, prisons, and other kindred questions, His Majesty's Government informed the Japanese Government on December 16 last, in consultation with His Majesty's Embassy at Tokyo, that they were willing to leave these matters to the sense of justice and good faith of the Japanese officials on the spot. Satisfactory assurances have already been received from the Japanese Government on the question of land tenure, and also on the question of ownership and the working of mines. With regard to the present Tariff, as I have already said it was to be continued for a period of ten years, and it is clearly impossible to ask the Japanese Government to definitely commit themselves in advance to a continuation of the present arrangement after the term specified.

With regard to the withdrawal of the British Vice-Consul from Antung, this took place for purely Service reasons. In December, 1909, His Majesty's Minister at Peking reported that the British political and commercial interests at Antung were, in his opinion, insufficient to warrant the permanent residence of a Consular officer in that place, and it was considered that these interests could be sufficiently protected by periodical visits from Mukden. However, quite recently—at the end of last month—His Majesty's Minister in Peking has been asked whether he has had any reason to modify this opinion during the past year, and I need hardly say that when his answer arrives it will receive full consideration. I think that is all I am able to say on the present occasion. With regard to the Motion for Papers, I am desired to say that the Secretary of State does not see his way for the present to lay Papers on the Table of your Lordships' House, but that as soon as these various matters have been definitely settled he will consider the question of laying whatever Papers he may be able to.


My Lords, as one who has taken great interest for many years in Korea and who is still more interested in the Treaty rights of British subjects and notably of British traders in those parts of the world, I should like to add a few words. In the first place, I am sure we shall all agree in thanking the noble Earl for having raised this question. He did so, if I may be permitted to say it, with a wide knowledge of the facts, with perfect fairness, and with a correct appreciation of the issues he was placing before the House. The noble Lord who has replied has given us the information which he was no doubt instructed to lay, but he will pardon me for saying that it does not cover the whole of the ground and does not remove the apprehensions which my noble friend behind me expressed. In fact, a good deal of the information given us by the noble Lord, if not beside the point—and I will not say that—was irrelevant to the particular fears entertained by my noble friend.

I need not say anything about the first Question. I would not desire to push the noble Lord further than the point to which he went in replying to the Question concerning lands that have been leased in perpetuity in Japan. A point of great importance, however, is raised by our Treaty rights in Korea as affected by the recent action of Japan. What has been going on in the past few years in Korea? During the last seven years there has been a steady progression in the hold which Japan has acquired over that unhappy country. In 1904 a Treaty was concluded by which Korea promised to follow the advice of Japan as regards administrative improvements, and in which Japan undertook to maintain the integrity and independence of the Korean Empire. Then in 1905, after the war between Russia and Japan, there was another Treaty in which Japan assumed control of the foreign relations of Korea and pledged herself, in language differing somewhat from the former Treaty, to maintain the dignity and the welfare of the Korean Throne. The next step was in 1907, when Korea placed herself under Japanese suzerainty, and administrative authority was transferred from her to the dominion Power. And the last step—in July, 1910—was when Korea was finally annexed by Japan.

Thus there has been during the last seven years a progressive tightening of the hold on Korea by Japan. I am not for one moment complaining of that. Korea has been one of the most unhappy of all nations in the world. She has been a sort of football kicked about by the Powers of the East, and that at last she should be steered through the goal-posts of Japan is in all probability in the long run the best thing that could happen to her. Neither do I desire to say anything about the manner in which Japan has executed her self-imposed task. What I am concerned with, and exclusively concerned with, are the rights of British subjects in Korea, guaranteed by Treaties and calling for defence on the part of His Majesty's Government. The noble Earl referred to the Second Treaty concluded between Japan and ourselves in the year 1905, and he quoted these words, which the House will perhaps permit me to repeat— Japan possessing paramount political, military, and economic interests in Korea, Great Britain recognises the right of Japan to take such measures of guidance, control, and protection in Korea as she may deem proper and necessary to safeguard and advance those interests, provided always that such measures are not contrary to the principle of equal opportunities for the commerce and industry of all nations. It is the last words to which I call attention. The noble Earl alluded also to the circular Letter to the Powers that. was issued at the same time as the Treaty of 1905 was concluded. This was the Letter in which the Japanese Government, in assuming control of the foreign affairs of Korea, declared that they would see that in assuming charge of those relations the Treaties existing between Korea and the Treaty Powers should be maintained and respected, and they also engaged not to prejudice in any way the legitimate commercial and industrial interests of those Powers in Korea. That was the state of affairs as regards public international pledges up to 1905.

Then we come to annexation in 1910, and at this stage Japan claimed that annexation should carry with it an abrogation of all existing Treaties. Here we raise on the one hand a question of international law, and on the other hand a question of practical importance for our own people. On the question of international law, no one has argued with greater force in times past than the present Foreign Secretary himself, Sir Edward Grey, that, whatever territorial changes might be effected, the economic status quo, the principle of the open door and of equal opportunities to the commerce of all nations, ought to be respected. The noble Earl behind me alluded to the negotiations that followed the annexation of Madagascar by France in 1899, and, while pointing out the analogy between those circumstances and the present, he rightly told us that the analogy was not. a perfect one. But I remember nothing better, having been Lord Salisbury's Under-Secretary at the time, than this, that when France annexed Madagascar Sir Edward Grey went round the country saying that we as a Government had no right to allow the Treaty rights we enjoyed with Madagascar to be abrogated by that act of annexation by France unless we obtained a substantial quid pro quo. In a speech at Liverpool on January 20, 1899, these were Sir Edward Grey's words— Lie did not believe that trade followed the flag, but what was no doubt true was that where the flag of other nations went British trade might be excluded. An instance of that was to be found in Madagascar. All they desired in regard to the matter was to request France to respect our Treaty rights, or, if our Treaty rights were to be extinguished, to see that they were only extinguished in return for compensation elsewhere. What had happened in Madagascar might happen on a much larger scale in China. They would continue to do their best, and would stand up and ask that the influence of this country should be used in favour of the policy of the open door. That was what Sir Edward Grey said in 1899. Yet if I correctly apprehend the position, when Japan annexed Korea in 1910 His Majesty's Government do not appear to have made any fight for a quid pro quo. As far as I can understand, they have surrendered the whole position; they have—nothing has been said to the contrary—acquiesced in the annexation; they have surrendered our extra-territorial rights, and, if I am right, disabled themselves from any further action in the matter.

What is the present position? It has been explained to us by the noble Earl in his speech just now. You have—I am not complaining of Japan in the matter—Law Courts and Police Courts set up to which British subjects have to take their cases, which are far below the standards of those that exist in any civilised countries, or even in Japan itself. You have a position as regards land holding, mining concessions, and so on, which is, at any rate, somewhat precarious; and you have an engagement as regards the tariff, that the present tariff shall only remain in operation for ten years. The noble Lord who replied for the Government very properly said that it is not for him to prophesy what will happen ten years hence. That is perfectly true. But what I want to know is, What has His Majesty's Government been doing all this time? When it was known that annexation had taken place, did negotiations take place between the two Governments? Was any attempt made to stand up for the Treaty rights of Great Britain, or have we given away the whole thing? I should be the last upon incorrect information to blame His Majesty's Government, but we know nothing of what has happened. We merely have the bald facts that annexation has taken place, that extraterritoriality has been abolished, that our Treaty rights have been impaired, and that His Majesty's Government have apparently acquiesced in this arrangement. If this be the state of affairs, then I must confess that I think there has been some departure from the enunciation of high principle by Sir Edward Grey ten years and more ago. I might quote other passages from Sir Edward Grey's speeches, because I have many of them, in which he has over and over again insisted on the same point. I cannot pursue the matter now, because he is not here to answer me. But I do submit that the case is one that calls for a reply, that we owe a debt of gratitude to the noble Earl for having brought it before the House to-day, and that until further information is placed at our disposal we are justified in entertaining the opinion that there has been some sacrifice of British interests in this matter.


My Lords, the noble Earl beside me (Earl Stanhope) has brought forward a matter of great importance in a speech of considerable ability, and while I recognise that there are some points on which in existing circum stances we cannot press His Majesty's Government for any further information, two points have been raised by the noble Earl on which I should like to say a few words. The first is as regards the coasting trade. I cannot help thinking that that is a matter which seriously deserves the attention of His Majesty's Government, not only as regards Japan, but also as regards some other countries. We know that we are excluded from the coasting trade both of France and of the United States. That is a very serious matter, and I am rather disposed to think that it does more injury to France and to the United States than it does to us. But there can be no question that it does sonic injury to us also.

In Germany the law is much fairer. In Germany they also have a law that the coasting trade is reserved to German vessels, but there is a proviso that where any country allows German vessels to share the coasting trade of that country, then the German Government gives the same privileges to vessels of that country in connection with their own coasting trade; and as we allow German vessels to carry goods between ports in this country, I believe I am correct in saying that Germany allows us the same privilege in regard to'German ports. I cannot help thinking that it would be very desirable if His Majesty's Government would raise this question wherever we are deprived of coasting rights; and we may fairly point out to a foreign Government that it is unfair that we should allow them to trade from one British port to another and that they should prevent us from trading from one of their ports to another; and the example of Germany might be brought forward as a fair way of dealing with this question.

With reference to the duties in Korea in the future, the Council of the London Chamber of Commerce have passed a unanimous resolution calling the attention of His Majesty's Government to the injury which might be inflicted on our commerce with Korea under the annexation. Of course it may be said, and said quite truly, that the case of Madagascar is not exactly upon all fours with this of Korea, but still it is one of a very similar character, and we know that our trade in Madagascar suffered very much when that country was annexed by France. It is, of course, quite open to France, or to Germany, or to any foreign country, to make any changes in her own duties which she may think to her advantage, and as a Free Trader I am bound to believe that in doing so she inflicts more injury upon herself than she does upon us. But it is a different thing when a country like France annexes Madagascar, or a country like Japan annexes Korea. There the duties did not stand at all upon the same footing, and surely it is somewhat unfair that French goods should be admitted to Egypt on the same terms as ours and vet our goods should be excluded from Madagascar unless they pay high duties to France.

Now we have very nearly the same question raised with regard to Korea, and, as I say, in the City of London we are a good deal exercised in our minds as to the injury which may be inflicted upon our commerce by these arrangements. It is, no doubt, some advantage that there should be the undertaking that the duties will not be raised for ten years, but, after all, in the history of nations ten years is but a very short time, and when you get towards the end of the period the uncertainty of what may happen will have a very serious effect. My noble friend who replied on behalf of His Majesty's Government said he did not think we could ask for anything more. But, after all, we had something to give. We had to consent to the annexation of Korea, and it seems to me, as it did to the noble Lord below me (Lord Curzon) and to the noble Earl who brought forward this subject, that we ought not to have agreed to any arrangements of that kind without serious protest and without doing everything to protect our commercial interests. Japan, of course, is quite entitled to raise her own duties as much as she pleases; but it is a different thing when we have to consider the question of Japan raising the duties in Korea, and we are afraid in the City of London that the arrangement which has been made will be very detrimental to our trade in Korea. I do not know how far the matter may have gone, but if it is possible to make any strong remonstrance on the subject I venture to hope that His Majesty's Government will do so.


My Lords, I do not wish to press the Motion, as I understand that His Majesty's Government will produce Papers on as early an opportunity as possible. There is, however, one point on which I should like to say a word—namely, with regard to the Consul at Antung. It has happened on more than one occasion that we have allowed things to slide until the scheme has been definitely formulated and it is impossible for us to get as great privileges as might otherwise have been the case. It is obvious that if we wait until the harbour at the mouth of the Yalu is finished and the railway constructed, it will he difficult for us to object to a rebate being given to the Japanese. But if we put forward our plea now that the rebate is only given for very high freightage over a long distance of railway and that therefore it is not an analogy which can be compared with a railway line 29 miles long, I venture to think His Majesty's Government will be able to take up a much firmer attitude than if they wait until the whole matter is settled.


I think the noble Earl slightly misunderstood what I said. The promise I gave was that, as soon as all these matters were definitely settled, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs would consider the question of submitting Papers to Parliament. I cannot definitely promise Papers.


I cannot help remarking that that does not put us in a very satisfactory position. The settlement may take years to effect, and I fully understand that neither the noble Lord nor in all probability the Leader of the House can pledge himself with regard to laying Papers in the absence of the Foreign Secretary. This instance emphasises the complaint which I made last week that we ought to have a representative of the Foreign Office in this House. In the present case the noble Lord who replied for the Government has given the official answer to the noble Earl's Questions, but he is stumped when we put a simple question like this with regard to the laying of Papers. All we can do, therefore, is to ask the noble Lord and the noble Viscount the Leader of the House to be kind enough to convey our humble request to the Foreign Secretary to listen to what we have said this afternoon, perhaps to read our speeches, and to give us Papers if he can do so. I suppose it is no good pressing the Motion for Papers further; but I think my noble friend will be justified in asking at no distant date whether Papers on the subject can be laid, and, if the answer is unsatisfactory, there will be nothing left for us but ourselves to raise the question again.


My Lords, there are difficulties in the way of presenting the Papers asked for, as other people have to be consulted. I will, however, convey to my right hon. friend the Secretary of State for. Foreign Affairs the desire of the House, and I will endeavour to convey the impression of humility with which the request is preferred.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.