rose to ask, Whether a document which has recently appeared in The Morning Post as a letter from the Foreign Office to the Secretary of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce is authentic? The noble Lord said: The letter must have appeared in the first week of August, but I am not sure on what day as it was communicated to me in an extract. It is dated July 29th, signed Julian Pauncèfote. Its substance is, if I interpret it correctly, that the Foreign Office are prepared to negotiate directly a Commercial Treaty with Roumania, in imitation of the Austrian example, of which so much was heard last Session. After the opinions I have ventured to express upon the subject, it was not possible for me to pass the statement perfectly unquestioned. But I did not wish unguardedly or hastily to assume it to be genuine, as it has not appeared in any Papers given to the House. The Question is intended rather to elicit facts than to convey oblique or premature reflection on the conduct of the Foreign Office. Although the letter has some marks of authenticity, it seems improbable on the face of it that the Foreign Office should decidedly abandon the ground on which they stood last year; even in deference to a commercial body whose importance is admitted. It seems to be improbable that even if a market was endangered some better method of retaining it would not have been arrived at. Even if a prohibitory duty was impending from 1193 Rumania, one would think the diplomatic mind might reach a better counter project than capitulation on a principle so recently maintained as indispensable to Treaties. One could not readily assume that with the talents and resources which the Foreign Office is well known to possess, on a point so grave, a vassal Principality should be able to checkmate them by any menace it resorted to. I therefore framed the Question in the way in which I put it.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
My Lords, I need hardly say, in answer to the Question, that the document to which the noble Lord refers is authentic and accurate in its terms. With regard to the question of policy which has been raised, if the noble Lord had been acquainted with all the facts of the case I do not think he would have taken the view which he appears to take. He has spoken of a reversal of our former policy on the question, but there really has been nothing of the kind. What has happened is this—When the discussion occurred on the subject of a Commercial Treaty with Rumania last year, I said all along that upon grounds of policy I had no objection to the negotiation of such a Treaty, but that our sole objection was that, according to our view of the construction placed upon existing Treaty arrangements, the Porte had a right to object, and therefore such a Treaty ought not to be concluded without the consent of the Porte; and I say the same now. If the Porte is willing, however, to give way, I see now, as I saw then, in point of policy no reason why it should not do so, nor do I think that any injury would accrue to the Turkish Empire in consequence. Communications have passed on the subject, and the result is that while, from considerations which I need not enter into, the Porte is unwilling to make any formal or official change in the relations between it and Roumania, yet, seeing the difficulties of the case, and having been either unable or unwilling to prevent other Powers from negotiating such Treaties, the Porte has waived the objections which it entertained, and we understand that no impediment will be raised on its part to the conclusion of a Treaty of this kind. That removes the only obstacles which stood in the way, and, therefore, negotiations are going on.