HC Deb 04 April 1845 vol 79 cc176-8
Mr. Ewart

was desirous of making an inquiry on a subject on which he had troubled the right hon Baronet (Sir R. Peel) before. It related to the existing state of discord between Buenos Ayres and Monte Video. His object was twofold: that British persons and British property might be protected, and that peace and commerce in that quarter of South America should be restored. He had been informed, on authority which he could trust, that the present state of affairs in the River Plate was an aggravation of the past. In the first place, the partial blockade of Monte Video had been declared a general blockade. In the next place, the commerce of the River Plate was closed to foreign vessels. Our ships could not proceed up the River Plate to Paraguay. Next, a duty had been levied, which virtually fell on foreign shipping at Buenos Ayres. On the vessels now there it might amount to several thousand pounds sterling. He understood also that the English and Scottish schools had been closed by the act of the Buenos Ayrean Government. The Scottish and English children were compelled to resort, if they went to any school, to the Buenos Ayrean schools. Lastly, the children of British subjects had been naturalized as Buenos Ayreans; consequently they were denaturalized as British subjects. His question, therefore, to the right hon. Baronet was, whether, under such circumstances, there existed (as he would not doubt there did) ample means for the protection of British persons and property in the River Plate, and whether there continued to be a prospect that this important quarter of the world would be speedily reopened to the commerce of Great Britain and of the world?

Sir Robert Peel

said, that this was a most important question, and he could not say much more than he said on the former occasion when he was questioned on the subject. The English Minister had proceeded to Buenos Ayres; and he, with the Minister of France, would exercise all their influence to put an end to the war in those countries. He believed that the Representatives of England and France would adopt such steps as would insure the restoration of tranquillity. With respect to the protection of British property, there was now, or there would shortly be, a British force in the River Plate of six ships of war; this force would be sufficient to protect British property. With respect to the schools, the hon. Gentleman must have much more recent information on the subject than any that had reached the Government. They had not received any recent communication from the British Minister on the subject. As he understood the matter, last year an edict was issued by the Governor of Buenos Ayres, which professed to regulate the schools there; and the question now put to him was, whether certain British and Scotch schools in connexion with the British and Scotch churches there, were subject to this edict. The only answer which he considered necessary was, that the British and Scotch subjects of Her Majesty at Buenos Ayres had a right to have schools for the education of their children. If any such edict for the putting down those schools had been issued, the hon. Member might depend upon it that effective remonstrances would be adopted by the Government to get it rescinded. Of course, however, the Government could not interfere unless it appeared that the Buenos Ayrean Government trespassed on the rights of British subjects. The last question of the hon. Gentleman was also one of importance. It was as to the naturalization of the children of British subjects at Buenos Ayres. It appeared that the general law was this—That the son or grandson of a British subject born abroad was also a British subject. But he could not deny that children born in a Foreign State were not also subjects of that State. Such was the law in this country, for the children of foreigners born in Her Majesty's dominions were British subjects. If the children of British residents at Buenos Ayres were born out of that State, the authorities there had no right to make them Buenos Ayrean subjects. If, however, the children of British subjects were born at Buenos Ayres, and continued to reside there, they obtained the rights of citizenship in that place; but with those rights they also had imposed upon them the burdens and duties of citizens and were liable to the law of Buenos Ayres.

Back to