wished to ask the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs—this being the year during which (under the agreement of 1841 with Denmark regulating the dues levied by that country on goods passing the Sound) notice can be given of terminating such agreement; whether it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government so to give notice; also, whether any, and what, negotiations have been entered upon between this country and Russia, or Prussia, having for their object the commutation of these dues for an immediate money payment to Denmark, or other compensation?
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
begged to inform the hon. Member that the agreement of 1841 related to a tariff which had existed since 1645, and that certain duties contained in it were lower than those which were exacted anterior to 1841. The arrangement of that year not only brought down all duties to the scale of 1645, but it also reduced some below that scale, and it was therefore an advantageous arrangement to this and other countries. Her Majesty's Government had not taken any steps to dissolve the existing agreement with the Danish Government, nor had any negotiations at present been entered into on the subject. He (Viscount Palmerston) thought the House would see that, independently of all other considerations, and setting aside the question whether it would be expedient to terminate the agreement, the present moment was not one at which it would be right to do anything that might have the appearance of pressing hardly upon Denmark, which country had so recently passed through a severe struggle. He would not pronounce any judgment upon the parties in that question; but this was clearly not the time at which a generous and friendly Government would take any step that might be considered of a hostile character.
§ Subject dropped.