Mr. McLane to Mr. Bayard.
Paris, August 13, 1885. (Received August 26.)
Sir: Referring to my dispatches Nos. 24, 36, and 53, I had a full conversation yesterday with Mr. de Freycinet in reference to the failure of the Chambers to act upon the bill providing for the inspection of foreign meats and for admission of American meats after such inspection.
I explained to Mr. de Freycinet the view I took of this question, considering the original prohibition as due to sanitary considerations exclusively, and, therefore, when these sanitary considerations no longer existed, it was manifestly the duty of the Government to repeal the decree, leaving American meats to be imported subject only to the same duties and inspection as were provided by existing laws for all foreign meats.
Mr. de Freycinet did not contest the soundness and equity of this view of the subject, but he referred to the fact that when the French Government proposed to act upon this view the Chambers interposed objections, and it was then generally conceded that the prohibitory decree could not be repealed until a more satisfactory provision could be enacted for the inspection of imported meats. The present minister of commerce, with whom I have had full conference, entertains this view of the subject, and would not now consent to sign a decree repealing the prohibition without the enactment of such improved inspection.
Mr. de Freycinet observed that these views of the minister of commerce had been generally accepted by his colleagues in the Government, [Page 376] and that he had himself entertained the hope that the inspection law would have been passed before the adjournment of the Chambers.
The minister of commerce is himself an earnest protectionist. He represents in the Chambers a constituency in the north of France, where the agitation against the importation of foreign meats is very great and active.
Mr. Ponyer Quertier, a former minister of finance, and a very influential statesman, is at this time engaged in a series of conferences or discussions in this region, urging upon the agricultural population the expediency and necessity of prohibiting the importation of all foreign meats, especially of American meats, which even at the present rate of duty would undersell all domestic and all other foreign meats.
These considerations have great weight, I think, with the minister of commerce, and indispose him to make concessions in the premises. Therefore it is that while admitting to me that he would make no invidious distinction against the importation of American meats, yet he would not repeal the existing prohibition until he has the necessary legal authority to insure the public health when such importation is permitted from all countries on equal terms.
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As stated in my No. 53, of the 7th instant, I will, after the elections are held, consider the expediency of renewing the discussion of this question, but it is not likely it can be renewed with any advantage before the new Chambers have met, and have fully completed their organization, which cannot be before the end of the month of October.
I have, &c.