Chargé Fletcher to the Secretary of State.
Lisbon, Portugal, October 1, 1906.
Sir: I have the honor to report that, for the third time this year, the General Cortes was formally opened by the King on the 29th ultimo. The speech from the throne outlined a number of reforms which will be proposed. The most important being a law providing for ministerial responsibility; a new method of public accounting; a new election law providing for smaller election districts, one seat for [Page 1244] each district, instead of large districts with majority and minority representation in each as at present, enlargement of the franchise and judicial supervision of elections; a much-needed reform in public instruction. Remedial legislation is also proposed for the judicial, public works, war, colonial, and navy departments.
Several new commerical treaties, the negotiation of which the legation has previously reported, will be submitted and as soon as made public I will forward copies and translations.
The contract for the tobacco monopoly, heretofore fully reported, will soon be taken up and will likely be approved. The question of the sanitarium concession at Madeira will also have to be settled.
The opposition, consisting of the followers of Hintze Ribiero, four Republicans, and other smaller groups, will be very active, but it is believed that the coalition, composed of the followers of Luciano de Castro and João Franco, will be able to carry its programme through the lower chamber. The attitude of the House of Peers is likely to be hostile, on account of the Liberal tendencies of the present ministry, but will hardly be obstructive. Much interest is taken in the session just opened, and it is hoped that some real legislative work may be accomplished.
I have, etc.,