HC Deb 18 June 1852 vol 122 cc935-6

said, he begged to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer the following questions: 1. Whether the question as to the territorial right over the Lobos Islands had been laid before the present, or late, or what Law Officers of the Crown, and in what year? 2. And, if there were an etiquette against making public the answer given by the Law Officers, whether there was an equal objection to producing the case laid before such Law Officers, with a view to satisfying the agricultural public of this country that every means had been taken to give them the great advantage of a cheaper supply of guano? 3. If the present Law Officers had not been consulted on this important question, whether there was any objection to consult them?


said, that as the questions referred more particularly to his department, he would take the liberty of replying to the hon. Gentleman's questions. In the first place, a case involving the territorial rights of the Peruvian Government over the Lobos Islands was raised in 1834, and submitted to the Law Officers of the Crown, who had made a report; but, as the hon. Member must be aware, it was not usual to make public such reports. With regard to the case then submitted to them, and on which the opinion of the Law Officers was founded, it would be found in the papers shortly to be laid on the table of the House, and that statement must be his excuse for not now entering at greater length into the question raised by the hon. Member. In consequence of the report of the Law Officers in 1834, Mr. Belford Wilson, our Consul General, was informed that there was no reason to doubt the Lobos Islands had been always part of the territories of Peru, and that the Peruvian Government was right to prohibit fishing around them. As to the third question, the Law Officers of the Crown had not been lately consulted, because the question appeared to have been decided in the former report.


said, considering that the question he wished to ask did not affect the right to the islands belonging to Peru, perhaps the noble Lord the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs would state whether Her Majesty's Government had applied, or intended to apply, to the Peruvian or other Governments interested therein, to enter into arrangements for the purpose of obtaining for British ships free access to places supplying guano. Also, whether any instructions had been given to Colonial Governors and officers of Her Majesty's Navy to look out for islands or other places containing guano, and take any practicable steps towards securing to the public, at the cheapest rate, an ample supply of that article free from adulteration; and whether there was any objection to lay upon the table any papers relating to that subject?


said, he quite admitted the deep interest and importance of the questions, and, in answer, had to state that several applications had been addressed to the Peruvian Government, with the view of obtaining guano at a lower price, but hitherto, he regretted to say, without success. He did not undervalue the importance of negotiations on the subject, but he believed the best means of procuring an ample supply of guano would be by bringing into play the principle of competition. He could inform the hon. Member, however, that at the present moment instructions were being sent out by the Admiralty directing our naval officers on distant stations to use their best efforts to discover islands containing fresh supplies of guano. Printed reports were being sent out by which the various kinds of guano could be tested, and the right hon. Baronet the Secrectary for the Colonies had directed the Colonial Governors to promote the search for it by every means in their power. The papers would be laid on the table in the course of the evening.

Subject dropped.