§ Viscount Palmerston
wished to put a question to the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, of which he had given notice. It was stated in the newspapers that the French Minister of the Interior (M. Cunin Gridaine) had announced to the Chambers that he was about to propose a Bill for the purpose of carrying into effect certain modifications which the British Government had consented to in the Treaty which was concluded in 1839, between the two Governments, for regulating the fisheries in the narrow seas. He wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman what these modifications were?
§ Sir R. Peel
apprehended there must be some mistake in the report of the French newspapers with respect to the words used by the Minister. There was a Convention entered into in 1839 between this country and France with respect to the fisheries of the respective countries in the narrow seas; and the Eleventh Article of that Convention provided that certain regulations should be entered into between Commissioners appointed by the two countries. Those regulations were accordingly agreed upon by the Commissioners, and were embodied in an Act of Parliament which passed through the Legislature of this country, and received the Royal Assent in 1843. By the Convention, it was agreed that 253 each country should, if necessary, pass a legislative measure for the purpose of carrying the regulations of the Convention into execution. We passed, in accordance with that Article, a law to enable us to inflict the penalties awarded under the Convention for breaches of the regulations. The French Government had not as yet passed a similar law; and he apprehended the French Minister (Monsieur Cunin Gridaine) had merely expressed an intention to introduce a law to carry the regulations of the Convention of 1839 into effect. It would seem from the report in place; but no modification had taken place; and he therefore thought that there most be some mistake as to the announcement which was made in the French Chamber.
§ Viscount Palmerston
wished to know if he was to understand from the right hon. Baronet that there had been no modification of the Convention, or of any of the regulations which had been agreed upon by the Commissioners under the Convention?
§ Sir R. Peel
said, that since the Act of the British Legislature in 1843, an Act passed for the purpose of carrying the regulations into effect, there had been no modification of the Convention or the regulations.
§ Captain Pechell
said, that the subject had been brought forward in the French Chamber of Deputies recently, by M. Estancelin, a representative who look a constant interest in the question as it related to the French fishermen. M. Estancelin expressed his opposition to the Treaty of 1839, as fatal to the interests of France; and in reply to those observations, M. Guizot said:—I found the Treaty concluded—its very date proves it. I endeavoured in the negotiations opened on the subject to remedy the evil. My position was rather difficult, for the Treaty was concluded, signed, and ratified, and it was found necessary to reverse certain clauses thereof, which were in full force. The negotiation ended in the adoption of regulations which have, in a great measure, redressed the grievances complained of by M. Estancelin. Certain clauses of the new Convention will be submitted to the legislative sanction in both countries.What was that redress, he would ask? Was it to be conceded that the French fishermen should come within a shorter distance of the English coast to fish than 254 they are at present allowed under the Convention? There was no reason why that point should be conceded to the French fishermen. He held in his hand an extract from a petition of the French fishermen of Dieppe, Fecamp, and Boulogne, relative to the decline of their fishery; and that petition was presented by M. Estancelin, who had taken a very great interest in the subject. The extract expressed the views taken by the fishermen; it was:—Nous deplorons vivement l'extremité à laquelle nous sommes reduits, nous voudrions marcher tête levée comme le faissaient nos ance but. Il nous faut l'appui positif et efficace du gouvernenient. Nous voulons rendre à notre patrie la pêche nationale dont elle s'est depouillée au profit de l'Angleterre.Did the Government intend to permit such a modification of the regulations as would seriously affect the interests of our fishermen, by allowing the French to fish within a shorter distance of our shores than that agreed upon in the Convention of 1839? M. Estancelin in effect said the noble Lord (Palmerston) had stolen a march upon them, and that the interests of the French fishermen had not been properly consulted.
§ Sir R. Peel
thought it very unwise to enter into the subject of petitions that were presented to the French Chambers, or to quote speeches which had been made upon the subject in the French Chamber of Deputies.