MR. J. WALTON (York, W.R., Barnsley)
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any formal or specific agreement in writing has been concluded by the Government of Great Britain with the Government of China in respect of the Yang-tsze Provinces beyond the notice contained in the brief telegraphic dispatch of Sir C. Mac-Donald to the Marquess of Salisbury of 14th February; and whether the reply of the Yamen to the British demand referred to in that dispatch was in writing; and, if so, whether their reply will be laid upon the Table?
If the honourable Member will refer again to the telegram to which he alludes, he will see that Sir Claude MacDonald addressed a dispatch to the Chinese Government on the subject, and received one from them in reply. The agreement is, therefore, in writing and specific. Its contents are fully described in the telegram from Sir Claude MacDonald already published; and the actual words of the assurance—namely, that, "It is out of the question that territory in the Yang-tsze region should be mortgaged, leased, or ceded to another Power," are there quoted. If, however, the honourable Member still entertains suspicions on the subject, I shall be most happy to show him a copy of the dispatch.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT (Monmouthshire, W.)
I understand from the Under 943 Secretary that a formal dispatch on the subject of the Yang-tsze Valley was addressed to the Yamen by our Ambassador in China, and that a formal answer in writing was returned by the Yamen to him; I would ask the Under Secretary whether he will not lay these two important dispatches on the Table of Parliament. It is not a question of private communications: it is a matter of the highest consequence to have the text of these two dispatches, of which only a single sentence appears in the telegraphic communication.
I think the right honourable Gentleman fancies that there is rather more in the dispatches to which he alludes than there actually is. There is not the slightest objection to laying the dispatch of Sir Claude MacDonald or the reply on the Table of the House other than the slight inconvenience of laying a single leaflet of paper which only contains a few lines.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
was understood to ask: Is the House to understand that no alteration has been made in regard to this region since the dispatches were written?