No. 87.
Mr. Nicholas Fish to Mr. Fish.

No. 501.

Sir: The Prussian Parliament has been dissolved by a royal decree, and the minister of the interior has issued a notice for the election of electors on the 20th, and of members of Parliament on the 27th October.

Besides the ordinary questions upon which the various fractions are generally divided, the complexion of the new Parliament will be studied with deep interest in regard to the question of free trade and protection.

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You will remember that in 1873 the Imperial German Parliament passed a law removing the duty on iron after January 1, 1877. It was a compromise between the two parties. At that time the prosperous condition of the iron trade caused this law to give but slight apprehension to those engaged in the various branches of the iron industry. Since then the iron trade, in common with all others, and, perhaps, in excess of all others, has suffered great depression. Those engaged in it, therefore, will use every means to continue the duty which now protects them from competition with foreign manufacturers.

The decision of the question is not, however, with the Prussian, but with the Imperial Parliament. The former may, however, exercise a powerful influence on the action of the latter, should either side be found largely in the majority. Many of its members will be elected to the German Parliament, where they will have the question presented for decision. Should a decided expression of opinion be given in the Prussian Parliament, it would probably guide the action of the Prussian government with its large representation in the Federal Council. As the question now stands, the Prussian government appears disinclined to take active steps on either side, but there are indications that it would not be averse to siding with the protectionists, were an opportunity afforded it.

I have, &c.,