§ * MR. REES (Montgomery Boroughs)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, since one reason for the late Government's refusal in 1903 to co-operate officially in the construction of the so-called Bagdad Railway was the desire of the Turkish Government to increase the Customs duties from 8 per cent. to 11 per cent., and to pledge such increase as a guarantee of interest on the requisite capital, His Majesty's Government has consented to this increase of the Turkish duties; whether this increase is to be used as a kilometric guarantee, in whole or in part, towards the construction of the Bagdad Railway as already constructed or projected; whether His Majesty's Government is obtaining any substantial concession from the Turkish Government in return for consenting to this increase in the Customs duties; and whether the Turkish or German Governments, or any financial group, has requested His Majesty's Government to reconsider the refusal to co-operate in the construction of the Bagdad Railway or to provide a terminus upon the Persian Gulf; and, if so, whether the results may, if no sufficient objection exists, be communicated to the House.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir EDWARD GREY,) Northumberland, Berwick
His Majesty's Government have not, as yet, consented to the proposed increase in the Turkish Customs duties. As to the conditions on which they are prepared to do so, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I am giving to a Question from the hon. Member for the Ripon Division of Yorkshire on this subject.†The question of the Bagdad Railway has not recently been brought before His Majesty's Government officially from any quarter.†See next Question and Answer.
§ MR. LYNCH (Yorkshire, W.R., Ripon)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any negotiations are at present pending or contemplated between His Majesty's Government and the Porte for an increase in the Customs duties on British goods imported into Turkey as fixed by treaty; and whether, in view of the fact that the great preponderance of the import trade into Turkey is in British and Indian hands, he will ascertain the views of the representatives of that trade before sanctioning any such increase.
§ SIR EDWARD GREY
Negotiations with regard to the conditions on which His Majesty's Government can assent to an increase in the Turkish Customs duties have been in progress for some time. Throughout these negotiations the preponderating importance of British trade with Turkey and the views of representatives of that trade have been fully borne in mind. We have been in consultation with the Board of Trade, and the Embassy at Constantinople is fully informed of the special points to which importance is attached.